My name is Doug, and I have a penis.
My wife's name is Elena, and she has a vagina.
Our neighbors are Tom and Kevin. Each has a penis, like I do.
Elena and I wed in 2004 and have since led a blissful life together.
Tom and Kevin have also led a blissful life together.
They have not wed, however. That's only because they live in New Jersey where blissful marriages between two people with penises or vaginas have not yet been welcome.
If this all sounds even loosely juvenile so far, that's because it is.
I write this passage having just attended the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee's Marriage Equality hearing on bill S-1967, a local ordeal not surprisingly given national attention in light of Prop 8 and similar goings-on. The good news: the bill passed. The bad news: it passed by a mere 7-6 and heads to a full Senate where the uphill climb extends far into the stratosphere.
My wife and I both signed up to testify as the straight white couple eternally confounded by this iniquity. Sadly, we never gained the opportunity to speak due to the confines of time. Gladly, we were superseded by dozens of courageous men, women and children who spoke eloquently, passionately and persuasively about the unfathomable suffering they have endured.
Proponent arguments ranged from the honorable civil rights champion, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who sent an incisive statement urging the bill's passage to NAACP chairman, Julian Bond, who delivered an in-person entreaty that stirred souls, and even a 10 year old who spoke about explaining civil unions to classmates... "They look at us like we're from Mars."
Opponent arguments included Senator Gerald Cardinale, R-Bergen County, who waged his concern that passage of said bill would encourage more people to choose to be gay, followed by a rabbi who extolled "...think what's in store for the innocent child", supplemented by a layperson who dropped nuts, bolts and screws upon a hearing table to illustrate how things can and cannot work.
But as we walked from the capitol building this evening wondering if there ever were to be a true fait accompli, I kept wondering what, in fact, was the nucleus of such disdain for this otherwise no-brainer. And then it hit me. Through all levels of tenor this night, there were but two critical words never to enter testimony... penis, vagina.
Are we afraid that this marriage-for-all-amendment is just a social experiment the likes of which will fail the very continuance of our species?
Or are we just plain afraid to admit that the "penis" and the "vagina" have some serious answering to do.
What we do know is that our masses have most certainly been afraid of doing what is morally unambiguous, largely because of its effect on political constituencies, professional careers, religious affiliations and personal ties.
By labeling marriage an "institution" to which a man and woman have exclusive access, we have shamefully rendered a glorious union into an ostensible slog.
Do ANY of us really wish to live in an institution anyway?
I want to live in a HOME where I am loved and can love back every minute of every day in an equal and uncompromising way.
Luckily, my wife and I have all the accoutrements to do that, namely one penis and one vagina. But there are those in my very own family who get stopped far short of what I have because of their anatomical sameness and the law shaking its finger, "No-no, uh-uh." Because they are not straight, are they somehow crooked?
My wife and I live in an historic, reemerging, New Jersey neighborhood... a melting pot of African Americans, Irish Americans, Italian Americans, Jewish Americans, Hispanics, and yes, gay people. We wake up to real life every day, not some deeply edited version of what some people think life ought to look like. This IS America, for better or for worse, in sickness or in health, until death do us part.
Therefore, the very fact that we had to appear in Trenton to defend our America was and is an infinite insult and a disgrace. 45 states that similarly deny our citizens this most basic of rights should be mortified by such myopia.
Vast numbers of folks are just plain afraid that acknowledging what is equitable will somehow make them weak, vulnerable and unwelcome in familiar places. But it is our gay brothers and sisters who are the ones unjustly unwelcome in the most familiar of places.
Why are we so afraid to welcome them? Why are we so afraid to welcome anything but the status quo, anything but life's rich pageant? I have never heard an argument that is judicious or vaguely relevant. As infantile as this may sound, all there is is the fear of two penises, two vaginas. Nothing more, nothing less.
If over 40 percent of heterosexual first marriages currently end in divorce, 60 percent of second marriages and 70 percent of third attempts, it is downright preposterous for us straight folks to proclaim our holier-than-thou arguments. Yet, according to the National Center For Vital Statistics, Massachusetts, where gay marriage has been running strong for 5 years, retains the national title as the lowest divorce rate state.
4,000 years ago, in what anthropologists deemed the bare beginning of marriage,
clusters of a few dozen people were led by several testosterone-fueled males who shared and governed multiple women and children. Some might jest that sounds like today's modern family. The point is, however, most of us are fully aware that times have changed, and so too must the ways by which we move through time. Otherwise, we will deny ourselves the growth we so long for and the dignity we certainly all deserve.
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government."
How can it possibly not be time that America acknowledges marriage for one and all? Otherwise, the people of this nation must exercise their right and responsibility to abolish this failed form and reinstitute it altogether.
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