Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan’s daughter, has a wonderful
column on MSNBC about same sex marriage. Surprise, there’s a Reagan on our
The irony of our times is that the one group of people—gays— who passionately
want to get married are slamming into a wall built of political concerns, legislative
wrangling, right-wing religiosity (an oxymoron if I ever heard one), and oddly
enraged TV pundits who seem to think the world will come to an end if two people
of the same sex join in holy matrimony.
… Whenever I hear about the furor over gay marriage, and whenever I step back and look at how tentative and wary we are about love (I’m including myself in that one) I wonder the same thing: What is it about love that frightens us so much? In the personal arena, the easy answer is, I suppose, loss. We wonder if we can survive the deep bruises to our hearts if our partner gets ill, or dies, or leaves. Solitude might be safer. Yet we see people surviving loss so we know it’s possible; the heart is a sturdy little muscle.
The harder question is: What is frightening about a same-sex couple standing forth in front of the world and making their commitment to one another public? Is the happiness of others really so threatening? Maybe
the bravery is what’s threatening. I don’t know if I could stand up to society’s wrath in the name of love. I hope I could, but as a straight woman, I’ll never be tested on that one.
A woman I know sat at the bedside of a man dying from AIDS. He told her he didn’t think he’d accomplished much in his young life, and now he was dying.
She said, “Did you love?” And he replied, “Oh, yes. I have loved deeply with all my heart.”
“Then you accomplished everything,” she said.
It’s funny, but I don’t think of it as brave to be living my life openly, with my partner and our son. At least not any braver than anyone else who dares to love and let others into his/her life. It’s just what I have to do, to be happy. Maybe the bravery comes from believing I deserve happiness, and daring to claim it despite the odds.
Still, when I get up every morning and see my son and partner out the door before I prepare to leave for work myself, I think I probably experience what just about anyone else experiences at a moment like that, watching two people I love walk out the door. At times like that, loving at all seems like a huge risk to take. So much of my heart is invested in both of them, and I’m not sure how well I could handle the loss of either of them, but I’m certain I’d loose a part of myself too.
I guess the difference between me and Patti, or me and any other heterosexual person in the same boat, is that I’m willing to take the risk of loving – and building a family – and while I get the personal benefits of that love (seeing my son first thing in the morning and hearing him laugh or say a new word, being able to roll over and see my partner beside me, etc.), I live in a society that tells me every day that love is not equal to the love that other – more traditional – families share; that what I have is some kind of second-class love. I know that’s not true. Maybe that’s where the bravery comes in; in daring to act as though the love that created and bonds my family together is just as worthy as any other.