Friday, November 07, 2014

Lifting of same-sex marriage ban in Wyoming a big surprise

I don't know about you, but I am still stunned by October's news that same-sex marriage is now the law of the land in Wyoming. I never thought I would see that day. I'm a supporter and have been for many years. The same goes for my wife Chris. We've been married for 32 years. In February 2011, we attended a rally at the Capitol supporting marriage equality. Rev. Rodger McDaniel and his wife Pat were scheduled to burn a copy of their 34-year-old marriage license as were the rest of us married folks who turned out to support the cause. The authorities frowned on burning things on public property so McDaniel used a paper shredder instead. Not as picturesque but we got the point across. If our LGBT friends can't get married, our marriage licenses aren't worth the paper they are printed on.

Now they are.

Credit goes to Wyoming Equality for its efforts. Kudos to Jeran Artery for being the face of the movement in his home state. Jeran and his partner Mike will be married soon. Wishing much happiness to this loving couple.

As is often the case in our strange state, it wasn't just Democrats who stand up for marriage equality. Republicans and Libertarians are also in the mix. Sen. Cale Case and Rep. Sue Wallis spoke out publicly for the legislature's civil unions bill.

Wyoming has come a long way in a short amount of time. So has the country. So have I. I grew up in the South of the sixties. Gays and lesbians were safely in the closet. Those who attempted to live openly gay lives were tormented and beat up. It was nominally OK for gay guys to be hairdressers and florists. It was not OK for them to be teachers, coaches, doctors, carpenters or politicians. Queers. Homos. Faggots. You've heard all of the terms. Name-calling hurts. Getting punched in the face hurts too.

Why am I tolerant when others are not? I lived in cities where I had LGBT neighbors and friends. I worked in the arts where many LGBT people work. The arts has always called those with different sensibilities. I once interviewed a successful dancer for a story. He grew up in Casper. He was an athlete who wanted to be a dancer and not a football player. He had some wonderful teachers, but also had to endure a lot of abuse from classmates. He ended up attending an arts high school in Massachusetts, college in New York City and now is a principal at a Canadian dance company. Why was this Wyomingite called to be a dancer and not a cowboy? There's some mystery in that, but thank goodness he found out what his calling was and had a chance to pursue his dreams.

BTW, there are gay cowboys in Wyoming, and not just in Annie Proulx's short stories.

I like who I have become. An aging tolerant white guy. This puts me at odds with some of my demographic cohort, but it has always been thus. Baby Boomers are a cantankerous lot. All of the battles we fight now, we also fought back in the sixties and seventies. I was a peacenik who was supposed to be a warrior. I was tolerant when I was supposed to be a bigot. I am a feminist who was supposed to be a know-it-all patriarch. I'm a liberal from a conservative family, A writer who was trained to be a priest or a corporate board president or one of those blowhards you see on FOX.

By taking a different path, I took a different path.

And that has made all of the difference.

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