Personal Statement on Same-Sex Marriage
Lowell Greenberg, 8/04

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A leaf for hand in hand;
You natural persons old and young!
You on the Mississippi and on all the branches & bayous of
the Mississippi!
You friendly boatmen and mechanics! You roughs!
You twain! and all processions moving along the streets!
I wish to infuse myself among you till I see it common for you
to walk hand in hand. - Walt Whitman

Postscript: Peter and I are no longer boy friends, but still friends. Yet everything written here applies- even more so with the passage of Oregon Constitutional Amendment 36.- Lowell Greenberg, 1/10/2005

"I am one of many people who would be harmed in real ways if same-sex marriage is banned in the United States as a whole and/or the state I live in.

I am a successful, openly gay forty-eight year old man. Yet I feel like a second class citizen in my own country. My boy friend Peter, is a Canadian citizen. I love Peter as much or more than you may love your spouse, boy friend or girl friend. Yet, because I am a US citizen and Peter is Canadian, if we both wanted to live in the United States, Peter could not be admitted for family-reunification since we are not married.

If Peter was able to live in this country as my partner, we still would lack basic rights afforded married couples. For example, if I had a stroke or other medical emergency, Peter would have difficulty getting my doctors to perform needed emergency care since we are not married. It could cost my life or his life if he is the one injured. If Peter or I should have a loss in the family we could be denied leave for family care or bereavement so we could together visit our loved ones- again because we are not married.

I know many same-sex couples that have been together five, twenty and forty years. Three couples I know were married last March in Multnomah County. Yet I fear many of the rights they have gained will be taken away if amendment 36 to the Oregon constitution passes.

For example, I know a friend who was with his partner for six years. When his partner died, their home and all of their possessions went to the deceased partner’s family. This and his great sense of loss and grief contributed to his having a major depression. Other couples I know have gone to great expense to establish wills and powers of attorney. Yet even these may be contested by parents or others.

There is something more. I am only recently out to myself and others. As I look back on my life and reflect on the lives of so many gay friends, I realize that the most devastating form of homophobia is the homophobia within- the lack of self acceptance and even self-hatred that can occur when you feel society doesn’t accept or respect a basic aspect of who you are. Perhaps if I grew up in a society were gay life and marriage was accepted, then my coming out journey would have been far less painful.

More importantly, I want to help young people feel more accepted. Gay teenagers represent one-third of all teenage suicides, yet they are less than a tenth of the teen population. Gay teens have greater amounts of depression and substance abuse. You see these teens everyday - they could be your own son or daughter, or one of your neighbors, co-workers and/or friends’ children. I want LGBT teens to realize that their sexual orientation is natural, normal and healthy. If same sex marriage was a normal part of society, then one more barrier to full equality and acceptance would be torn down. And this is important because in a very real sense, lives are at stake.

Yet one last thing. Six weeks ago I came out at work, 4 weeks ago a "No On 36" sticker appeared on my car and two weeks ago I was laid off. Coincidence? I am unsure. But it would be nice to live in a land where the suspicion would not enter one's mind and where laws protect against such discrimination."
 

Other Thoughts

"It would seem high time, I say, that public opinion should recognise these facts; and so give to this attachment the sanction and dignity which arise from public recognition, as well as the definite form and outline which would flow from the existence of an accepted ideal or standard in the matter. It is often said how necessary for the morality of the ordinary marriage is some public recognition of the relation, and some accepted standard of conduct in it. May not, to a lesser degree, something of the same kind (as suggested in the next chapter) be true of the homogenic attachment? It has had its place as a recognised and guarded institution in the elder and more primitive societies; and it seems quite probable that a similar place will be accorded to it in the societies of the future.
Edward Carpenter, "The Intermediate Sex," Chapter 3- The Homogenic Attachment, published in 1908.

"...the distance remains immeasurable . . . As soon as I remember what the end is — however great the distance — I do not doubt. Dear friend, you have so infused yourself that it is daily more and more possible for men to walk hand in hand over the whole earth. As you have given your life, so will others after you — freely, with amplest reward transcending all suffering — for the end that you have dreamed." Letter from Edward Carpenter to Walt Whitman in 1876

"Edward was beautiful then — is so now: one of the torch- bearers, as they say: an exemplar of a loftier England: he is not generally known, not wholly a welcome presence, in conventional England: the age is still, while ripe for some things, not ripe for him, for his sort, for us, for the human protest: not ripe though ripening. O Horace, there's a hell of a lot to be done yet: don't you see? A hell of a lot: you fellows coming along now will have your hands full: we're passing a big job on to you." Walt Whitman in a letter to Horace Traubel on Edward Carpenter

 

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