I went to college for two and a half years in order to figure out how to not feel things like a typical straight white male. The only group in the world who suffers less discrimination than I do are rich, straight, white males. I do feel pain though; when I read about all of the hate transpiring on the earth, or watch a video of someone suffering, I cry. I try my hardest to imagine what it’s like growing up in a village somewhere far away, with my own customs and traditions, when suddenly a bomb falls out of the sky and kills my entire family. I try to put myself in the shoes of a Muslim living in the United States – home of the free – and getting beat and mocked for practicing a different religion. Each and every morning I sit on my couch with my computer in front of me and try, and yet I will never know what it’s like to feel what these people feel.
Back in 2006, my then girlfriend and I decided that we wanted to express our love in public and make a lifelong commitment to each other. After a few months of planning we stood in front of family and a small amount of close friends and became partners recognized by the State. We had worries leading up to the wedding that we wouldn’t be able to afford it or that her family and my family wouldn’t get along, there was even a scare the morning of the wedding when the man who was to marry us was running late. Since the wedding, we have had our ups and downs; we know marriage is hard and we know that half the people who attempt to spend the rest of their lives with another human being fail. We face challenges every day – I want to live in one state and write, she wants to live in another and go to school – but we know we have the power to overcome them or to decide it’s not worth it anymore and go our separate ways. We had and have absolutely no fear that our marriage will be broken up by another person. There was no worry, the day before the wedding, that the state of Colorado would decide that I couldn’t marry the love of my life. We don’t wake up in cold sweats because the US Supreme Court could decide on a whim that our marriage isn’t valid. I can cry, I can stomp my feet, I can meditate on it, but there is no way for me to really feel what the members of the gay community in California have been going through recently. You can get married, you can’t get married, you can, you can’t, you are a human just like everyone else, you’re not quite as important as those of us who like people of the opposite sex. I have no idea what it’s like waiting for some judge who has never met or heard of me, to decide whether or not I can express my love.
I doubt that very many people woke up this morning and thought about me; more specifically how to ruin my life. However, hundreds of thousands of people woke up this morning and the only thing on their agenda was how to keep certain kinds of people who love each other apart. The group that is opposing gay marriage the hardest said: “that most of the United States and the majority of countries worldwide do not allow gay marriage because the institution of marriage serves a societal interest.” As arrogant as I am and as much as I love my wife, I do not for one second think that my marriage serves a societal interest. These people think it does, so let’s assume that society is better off because Ryan Hartman married Rebecca Diaz. When I think of my gay friends who have partners I can’t seem to put my finger on the differences that make my partnership good for society and theirs bad.
I know I don’t write the most interesting (or sensible) pieces on the web and I know that I only get 5-10 hits per day, but I feel that the things I touch on are important. Even if only five people read this, my hope is that one thinks a little more about whatever issue I touched on that day.