Marriage Project, Day 27

This essay was written in 2004, but the local presses wouldn’t publish it. Moreover, the writer asked me to withhold her city and state. She said bigots where she lives like to take their viewpoint out on your pets. Progress has real costs. The backlash is ugly, as we see repeatedly in a candidate like Rick Santorum. We are given voices to speak. We are given stories to tell. Speak truth to power. Speak it as long as you live. Meet my guest for today’s Marriage Project:

Here’s looking at you
by Marguerite Quantaine

Publicly, Thomas Jefferson believed in the principles of freedom. But privately, he grappled over whether the worst white man was still better than the best black man.

Ultimately, Jefferson’s failure to champion equality left his own illegitimate child enslaved, opening the wound which has since defined – not the competency of his mind – but the capacity of his heart.

We are once again at a crossroads governing the use of fine print to qualify freedom and equality.

But this time, the Jeffersonian paradox challenges whether we, as a nation, believe the worst heterosexual is still better than the best homosexual.

Because all the worst heterosexuals in America can marry.

But even the best homosexuals cannot.

As the high court strips away all righteous rhetoric and political posturing, it’s possible they’ll recognize a raw reality, i.e., even when heterosexuals commit the most heinous crimes (murder, rape, child molestation, spousal abuse), their known deviant behaviors are ignored by American marriage laws.

However, even when homosexuals are model citizens, their one identified aberrant activity is prepossessed.

The court must then question whether this speaks to the heart of who we are, regardless of whom we perceive ourselves to be.

On the one hand, we insist the purpose of marriage is a belief in the sanctity of family.

On the other, we ignore the fact that millions of felons sitting in high security prisons nationwide are predominately heterosexual, having marginal moral character at best. Yet each has a right to marry.

In some sit suspects held for complicity in the 9/11 attacks. And even they have the legal right to marry in every state in this nation.

But Lily Tomlin doesn’t.

Charles Manson, Sirhan Sirhan, David Berkowitz, and the Menendez brothers can.

But Ellen DeGeneres can’t.

The loathsome, imprisoned Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, could.

But the honorable, sitting U.S. Congressman, Barney Frank, cannot.

If the court entertains the position that “sin” is the foundation on which law is defined, will it validate the proponent “hate the sin, not the sinner” premise?

Can it then ignore evidence verifying it isn’t “sin” being shunned, profiled, attacked, ridiculed, or denied equal rights? Only American citizens are.

Will the court ask why there are no marches planned, political wars being waged, or state constitutional amendments being drafted against the seven deadly sins? Or, why it’s only a singular, Bible referenced, declared abomination being targeted?

And, if this is an inflamed edict, could it set precedence for other inflamed edicts as just cause to alter constitutional law?

The court might recognize the ten commandments governing the worship of other Gods, building graven images, working on the Sabbath, cursing, dishonoring parents, murder, adultery, stealing, coveting, and bearing false witness as written in stone. But being gay is not.

Politicians and pundits insist same-sex marriage is un-American, implying we can’t remain an “America The Beautiful” if we allow marriage to be maligned. Because, like that best loved song, the institution of marriage has been declared our national heritage and pride.

But only the Supreme Court can decide which American-born citizens qualify as entitled to inalienable rights, and which (regardless of birthright or exemplary character) do not.

Before then, the justices may be compelled to reflect on citizens like Katherine Lee Bates. A woman who spent 25 years in love with another woman, and her entire life as one of America’s finest homosexuals. Who felt, authored, and gifted our nation with those cherished words, “And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.”

Perhaps it’s even possible our Supreme Court will decide it’s time we stopped cherishing a broken institution that denies equality to our totality, and in so ruling, bind us by law to cherish each other, instead.

6 thoughts on “Marriage Project, Day 27”

  1. Marianne K. Martin

    Nicely done, Marguerite. Clear, recognizable examples of the injustice and the ridiculousness involved in denying the right to marry. And, sadly, I am not surprised that your local press would not publish it.

  2. Cynthia Pittmann

    I appreciate so much of what Jefferson wrote about freedom and the rights of all people, yet it’s difficult to understand how he could own enslaved people. The contradiction is even more perplexing when you realized he had a love relationship with one of them.
    The idea about the rights of upstanding and admirable people not being able to marry is so well expressed. It is genuinely absurd that real criminals can marry the person of their choice but same sex couples cannot.
    My own mother and her partner were murdered because of intolerance so this issue is close to my heart. I appreciate the strength of your argument and support this cause 100%.

  3. Pingback: Tired of hearing about Me,Me,Me? | Words of Barrett

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Jill Malone

Jill Malone grew up in a military family, went to German kindergarten, and lived across from a bakery that made gummi bears the size of mice. She has lived on the East Coast and in Hawaii, and for the last seventeen years in Spokane with her son, two dogs, a hedgehog, and a lot of outdoor gear. She looks for any excuse to play guitar. Jill is married to a performance artist and addiction counselor who makes the best risotto on the planet.

Giraffe People is her third novel. Her first novel, Red Audrey and the Roping, was a Lambda finalist and won the third annual Bywater Prize for Fiction. A Field Guide to Deception, her second novel, was a finalist for the Ferro-Grumley, and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Great Northwest Book Festival.

Giraffe People

Giraffe People

Between God and the army, fifteen-year-old Cole Peters has more than enough to rebel against. But this Chaplain’s daughter isn’t resorting to drugs or craziness. Truth to tell, she’s content with her soccer team and her band and her white bread boyfriend.

And then, of course, there’s Meghan.

Meghan is eighteen years old and preparing for entry into West Point. For this she has sponsors: Cole’s parents. They’re delighted their daughter is finally looking up to someone. Someone who can tutor her and be a friend.

But one night that relationship changes and Cole’s world flips.

Giraffe People is a potent reminder of the rites of passage and passion that we all endure on our road to growing up and growing strong. Award-winning author Jill Malone tells a story of coming out and coming of age, giving us a take that is both subtle and fresh.

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A Field Guide to Deception

A Field Guide to Deception

In Jill Malone’s second novel, A Field Guide to Deception, nothing is as simple as it appears: community, notions of motherhood, the nature of goodness, nor even compelling love. Revelations are punctured and then revisited with deeper insight, alliances shift, and heroes turn anti-hero—and vice versa.

With her aunt’s death Claire Bernard loses her best companion, her livelihood, and her son’s co-parent. Malone’s smart, intriguing writing beguiles the reader into this taut, compelling story of a makeshift family and the reawakening of a past they’d hoped to outrun. Claire’s journey is the unifying tension in this book of layered and shifting alliances.

A Field Guide to Deception is a serious novel filled with snappy dialogue, quick-moving and funny incidents, compelling characterizations, mysterious plot twists, and an unexpected climax. It is a rich, complex tale for literary readers.

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Red Audrey and the Roping

Red Audrey and the Roping

Occasionally a debut novel comes along that rocks its readers back on their heels. Red Audrey and the Roping is one of that rare and remarkable breed. With storytelling as accomplished as successful literary novelists like Margaret Atwood and Sarah Waters, Jill Malone takes us on a journey through the heart of Latin professor Jane Elliot.

Set against the dramatic landscapes and seascapes of Hawaii, this is the deeply moving story of a young woman traumatized by her mother’s death. Scarred by guilt, she struggles to find the nerve to let love into her life again. Afraid to love herself or anyone else, Jane falls in love with risk, pitting herself against the world with dogged, destructive courage. But finally she reaches a point where there is only one danger left worth facing. The sole remaining question for Jane is whether she is willing to accept her history, embrace her damage, and take a chance on love.

As well as a gripping and emotional story, Red Audrey and the Roping is a remarkable literary achievement. The breathtaking prose evokes setting, characters, and relationships with equal grace. The dialogue sparks and sparkles. Splintered fragments of narrative come together to form a seamless suspenseful story that flows effortlessly to its dramatic conclusion.

Winner of the Bywater Prize for Fiction, Red Audrey and the Roping is one of the most memorable first novels you will ever read.

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