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Lions Roar : May 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN M Ay 2009 26 celebration at City hall, and retroactively stripped these couples of their marriage licenses. State after state began passing bans on same-sex marriage, and president Bush announced his support for inscribing such a ban in the u.S. Constitution. My mother, my beloved, and I returned to our beach one more time. My mother leaned on Keith’s arm as the ashes and bones of her best friend for fifty-four years tumbled into the water. KeITh anD I Were FInaLLY aBLe to get legally married a year ago, following yet another court decision. My mother was one of our witnesses, with a box of Kleenex in her lap. We already felt married, but it felt good to take those humble vows again in front of a county clerk. The corridors of City hall were full of beaming gay couples who had been together for decades. My father would have been happy that day too. The election season was upon us, and I was doing full-time volunteer work to help put Barack Obama in the White house. One day, we received a glossy brochure in the mail featuring smil- ing portraits of Barack and his wife Michelle, urging us to vote for proposition 8, an amendment to the California constitution to ban marriages like ours. I knew that Obama was on record as being against the amendment. But his statement, “I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman,” was emblazoned at the top of the brochure. at the same time, the ads opposing proposition 8 seemed to convey an extreme wariness of offending anyone. “no matter how you feel about marriage...” they began. and there were no glowing couples in the ads, which struck me like running a cam- paign against school segregation while being afraid to show any minority kids with textbooks in their hands. But the pro-8 ads went straight for the gut, linking marriages like ours with the rape of children and compulsory sex ed for kindergarteners. post-election morning was bittersweet. Like most of our friends, we were overjoyed that change would finally come to Washington. But the narrow passage of proposition 8 tasted like sand in our slice of victory cake. as a Buddhist, I vow to cultivate compassion for every sentient being, even those who are trying to legislate our love out of exis- tence. I try to understand their fears about tinkering with an insti- tution so fundamental to human happiness. I imagine that some of their sons and daughters are waiting patiently for the day they can finally be honest with their parents about who they really are. The extraordinary truth about gay marriage is that it’s com- pletely ordinary. Keith and I wake up at dawn, and I make him a sandwich to take to school. he gets kids excited about the won- ders of the universe for a living, and I try to do the same thing for adults in my science writing. In a universe in which loved ones and tall buildings can turn into ashes overnight, it’s good to know where your garden is—whether it’s a committed rela- tionship, a daily sitting practice, or a handful of earth and seeds. and it’s important to remember that happily ever after is getting shorter all the time. ♦