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Lions Roar : May 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN M Ay 2009 24 atom that belongs to me as good belongs to you.” Then we threw a big party. The only person to talk politics that day was my father Don- ald, a college professor and lifelong advocate for social justice. My coming out in high school had been tough for him to accept, but he went on to become a champion for equality in the ameri- can Federation of Teachers. he gave the fight to legalize gay mar- riage a rousing toast, and even my new contingent of blue-eyed relatives cheered. a few months later, our mayor, Gavin newsom, began grant- ing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The first to wed were Del Martin and phyllis Lyon, pioneering gay activists and advo- cates for women’s health, who had been waiting fifty years for that day. newsom’s bold decision launched a firestorm of angry words about defending the sanctity of marriage from “activist judges” and brazen interlopers like Del and phyllis. Gay people were accused of mocking the sacred institution of marriage with their flamboyant tuxedos and gowns. after a Texas court overturned a law against sodomy, u.S. Supreme Court Justice antonin Scalia unleashed a torrent of disdain from the bench. he equated homosexuality with “fornication, bigamy, adultery, adult incest, bestiality and obscenity.” Suddenly Keith and I found ourselves at the flash point of a raging culture war. Did we have to call it marriage? Wasn’t that an unnecessary provocation for those who take that word to mean getting to the church on time? What about framing our commit- ment with a less confrontational term like “civil union?” Certain words, however, have alchemical power. a humble noun or verb can become a transformative mantra. embracing the word “marriage” had a subtle but profound effect on our relationship, like unlocking a door to a secret garden that only other married people know about. now our job was to care for that garden together—to nourish it, weed it when necessary, and give it the compassion and space it needs to grow and flourish. Knowing the way to that garden proved to be a great comfort shortly after that, when my seemingly healthy, vibrant father suf- fered a heart attack at a union meeting and died a few days later. My heartbroken mother moved to San Francisco to live near us. and that same winter, our beloved house in provincetown was torn down by the guys we had rented it from for years. We had planned to make our marriage legal, but we didn’t get the chance. In the months after dozens of couples like Del and phyllis were wed, further court decisions put a stop to the Certain words have alchemical power. A humble noun or verb can become a transformative mantra. Embracing the word “marriage” had a subtle but profound effect on our relationship. The Tilt Seat MANTRA WINES Vajra B�e�ed W�n� LIMITED PRODUCTION 707 480 9961 phone sales only For infor mation on our other wines: www.mantrawines.com