Here in Texas, I’ve been personally doing everything that I can to ensure that I am pushing for equality. I follow local, state and national politics and I call my representatives, email them and everything else that I can do to get them to support or introduce legislation that will further the cause of legal equality.
In my quest, I work toward understanding what it is that those who are against equality are not understanding. Let’s face it, we can’t just stand on corners yelling “Equality now” and expect for the ears that our message land on to translate that to mean all of the things that we mean when we say it.
The general public probably thinks that we simply want to put wedding rings on our fingers and walk around waving it in their faces. Obviously, we can already do that if we want. It’s not like there’s a law against buying a ring and wearing it. In my opinion, if people knew what they were truly voting for when they cast their votes, they’d more often vote in favor of equality.
As often as I’ve written to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison and Senator John Cornyn and received their form letters in return, I’ve given up on anything less than phone calls with them. The replies I get from both of them when I talk about the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) are absolutely indicative of a pure lack of understanding on their part. Both of them mirror the history of how the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community has “attacked” marriage and families. Their language constantly uses the terms “assault on families” and “attack on marriage” as if allowing us to partake in in marriage directly effects their own family’s legal rights and protections.
I think that most people who would read me understand enough that these senators themselves (and others throughout the country) are the ones who are manning attacks and assaults on the LGBT community. They are imposing restrictions on our access to legal protection while enjoying their own freedoms unhindered.
In the state of Texas alone, there are 17,444 children that are being raised by same-sex couples. Our legal system treats these families as if it were a single parent household giving little to no ability for the second parent to use the law to protect that family unit.
It’s a complicated scenario for even the LGBT community to fully understand, let alone someone who doesn’t have a stake in equality but, I’ll break it down with some examples.
My friend John was married and had a son from that relationship. When he and his wife divorced the courts granted him custody of his son. A few years later John met Mark and they eventually fell in love. 10 years later and John’s son is 15 and loves Mark and thinks of Mark as his dad as well. This family unit is tight nit very much like the family I grew up in except for the gender makeups.
Mark and John have bought a house together in a nice neighborhood in Austin. Unfortunately, the way the law works only John is able to be listed as the owner of the house because they are not married. Even though they both take care of child and house, any amount of money that is put into the house from Mark’s income must be claimed on John’s income as receipt of rent which the government keeps a percentage of. This is money that their family already was taxed for from Mark’s income tax from his paycheck.
Literally, this is food taken out of their son’s mouth.
This isn’t the only example of these types of injustices but it goes to show how exactly denying marriage equality is effects children who’s parents are same-sex while benefiting families that are made up of the heterosexual construct.
Even more horrifying is the legal fees involved with drawing up wills and powers of attorney so that, in John’s absence, Mark has the ability to take their child to doctors, enroll him in schools and other items that come natural to a married family. It takes thousands of dollars to accomplish this and they still aren’t fully protected from family members who may contest wills should John pass away unexpectedly.
In Austin, there are an estimated 945 same-sex couples that are raising children, in Houston 2,458 and in San Antonio 1,180.
These are a lot of families suffering simply because the adults in these families are not allowed to get married.
To the title of my post today, “it may be too late”: some of these families have already gotten to the point where it no longer matters. By the time they are finally able to get married the damage to their family has already been done.
This is why, I am asking everyone who is reading this to simply show up tomorrow and support these families.
There are marches, vigils and mass commitment ceremonies going on in Austin, San Antonio and Houston that you can get involved in. Respond that you are going and INVITE all of your friends to show support as well.
If you are not in Texas, no worries, there are events all over the USA!