A leaf for hand in hand;
You natural persons old and young!
You on the Mississippi and on all the branches & bayous of
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. -
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
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."
"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.
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
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