Gayle Madwin (queerbychoice) wrote,
Gayle Madwin

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Grandparents, Again

My mother recently emailed me to ask if I wanted to go to my grandparents' house for Christmas - the same grandparents whom I disowned because they apparently supported Proposition 8. I repeated to my mother the same thing I had already said before: I would visit any grandparent who voted No on Proposition 8 or who did not vote at all on Proposition 8, but I will not have anything to do with any grandparent who voted Yes on Proposition 8 or who refuses to tell me how they voted on Proposition 8. My mother wrote back, "I didn't ask, but Grandma volunteered 'I don't remember how I voted.' So I guess you won't be there for Christmas." I am now drafting my reply.

Hi Mom,

Unless Grandma suddenly developed advanced-stage Alzheimer's disease in the time since I last saw her, I think it takes a truly mind-boggling amount of not caring the tiniest bit about me whatsoever for her not to have even given enough thought to her decision about voting to call off my wedding to be able to remember afterward what she decided. Especially after having been told that voting to call off my wedding would cost her the right to ever see me again, which means that in addition to not caring the tiniest bit whatsoever about me and my own well-being, she also had to either care nothing about her relationship with me, or have so little respect for me that the idea that I could actually mean anything I say never even crossed her mind.

If there were a ballot proposition to annul her and Grandpa's marriage - say, by annulling all the marriages of Catholics or people who are too old to have children anymore - wouldn't she expect me to vote against it and remember for sure that I had voted against it? I would have not only voted against it, but been so horrified by the fact that it was on the ballot at all that I would have campaigned against it as hard as I could. But I not only didn't ask Grandma and Grandpa to campaign actively against Proposition 8, I didn't even ask them to vote against it. I only asked them not to vote for it. And they can't even assure me that they did that much?

It's often said that you only find out who your friends are when you find yourself needing to call on them for support. There is no time in my life when I have ever needed my grandparents' support anywhere near as much as I have needed it during this past election season. Not only did they fail to support me, but they joined in the attack against me. And it has been a much more painful attack than just about anyone who wasn't also the victim of it seems to fully comprehend. (But thank you for doing your best; Susan went so far as to tell me I ought to call you and Dad every single day for the rest of my life just to thank you both over and over for being good parents. I said I thought you'd get a little tired of answering the phone all the time if I did that every single day.)

The first portion of the harm done to me is the fact of having my wedding called off at all. It makes planning either a wedding or a domestic partnership ceremony virtually impossible. I can't plan a wedding ceremony because I don't know when I'll be allowed to get married. I can't plan a domestic partnership ceremony because if I have one and then my marriage is legalized the following month, I will have to have a second ceremony, and who in the world can afford two wedding ceremonies in one year?

The second portion of the harm done to me is the different laws I'll be subject to even after having a domestic partnership. Domestic partnership laws are, first of all, insulting in various ways, such as the fact that people are required to live together before they can become domestic partners, whereas no one would dream of requiring opposite-sex couples to move in together before getting married. Second, domestic partnerships have no potential to be recognized by the federal government. If Barack Obama keeps his campaign promise to repeal the federal DOMA, then Susan and I will have to fly to Massachusetts or Connecticut to get married before we can be recognized by the federal government as married. If we get married in Massachusetts or Connecticut, how many people who know either of us will fly there to attend the wedding?

The third portion of the harm done to me is the fact of this harm being done to me by the majority of all the people I ever meet, because this makes it very difficult for me to feel normal goodwill toward any random strangers, ever. With every single place I go, every single person I pass on the street, I am forced to realize that 52% of these people (or in Susan's county, 68% of the people) conspired to call off my wedding indefinitely. This knowledge inevitably changes, in a very unpleasant manner, one's outlook on the world.

The fourth portion of the harm done to me is the fact of my own grandparents joining in the mob attack against me. If my grandparents had not joined in this attack on me, I could have at least taken comfort in knowing that none of the people conspiring against me actually knew me and knew that it was me they were conspiring to attack. The fact that my grandparents did join in the attack on me made the attack at least twice as painful as it would otherwise have been, and not a single day has passed in two months when my efforts to concentrate on other things have not been continually interrupted all day long by the sense of betrayal by my grandparents specifically.

The fifth portion of the harm done to me is the fact that I couldn't even talk about any of this with any of the people I saw in person on most days of the week before the election, because talking about my own personal life was recategorized as "political campaigning" and was therefore inappropriate to discuss with co-workers. Any heterosexual whose wedding was in danger of being called off would tell co-workers about it and at least get some sympathy for it. But when I was sitting in my cubicle with tears streaming down my face, I couldn't tell any of my co-workers why, because some of them might have been participating in the conspiracy to call off my wedding, and if I dared to complain about that, it could have been regarded as unfairly pressuring them to stop calling off my wedding. Which there is nothing unfair about in the first place, but it could have been seen that way and probably would have been.

By refusing to assure me that they did not participate in committing these attacks against me, Grandma and Grandpa have signaled their approval for all of these different harms done to me. If they truly believe there is a God, they should be very, very worried about how they will account to that God for having caused this much pain to their own granddaughter on the basis that I dared to love someone. It might have been better if they had physically attacked me with knives instead of legally attacking me at the ballot box, because at least then I would get out of the hospital much sooner than I am likely to get my right to marry Susan restored.

If they want to re-establish a relationship with me, they need to do the following: (1) congratulate me enthusiastically on my engagement and express their fervent hope that I will be able to marry Susan as soon as possible, and (2) donate at least $200 to Equality California ( to support the effort to repeal Proposition 8 so that I will be able to do so. But unless they do those things, they are no more grandparents to me than Dad's father was. Their being involved in my life and claiming to love me but then actively joining in a mob that called off my wedding is more painful to me than if I had just never known them at all.

You can forward or read aloud or summarize to them all of this or none of this or whatever parts of it you see fit. It really doesn't matter, because they have demonstrated absolutely zero willingness to listen.

Also, Susan would like it stated for the record that this is all my decision and she would go along with any decision I made about my family. I think this should be obvious, but in case it's not, I'm stating it.

Tags: susan
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