Never Yield

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I was a student at University of Arkansas when the marriage ban was voted in.

This was three months after an identical ban was ratified in my home state of Missouri (exactly one year after the death of my father). It coincided with the passage of citizen-voted bans in ten other states and the re-election of George W. Bush, who, along with his then-closeted campaign manager, fluffed his national platform by promising a federal marriage ban to his normally “small-government” base. A national platform that soon grew and became two-pronged: the federal marriage amendment and the war in Iraq. A national platform that widely targeted queer youth as well as adults, whose figurehead, party faithful, and media implicitly linked our community with the wars overseas and equated us with the Taliban. If you were a queer American in 2004, you were an enemy of America. And if you didn’t feel like you were, that notion was swiftly dispelled when the ballots were counted.

The significance of those bans passing can not be understated. After more than a year of silent nudges and mild-to-moderate public harassment (what else do you call statements like “gay marriage will destroy the American family”?), waking up the morning after election day was like finding a mob with torches and pitchforks camped out on your doorstep. “Get out, dyke. You’re not wanted here.”

I don’t think conservative Americans gave any significant thought to the message they were sending with their vote and, if they did, they were certainly willing to shunt their morality to the side in favor of a “united front” with men and women who turned out to be liars and war criminals. The basic human rights of queer Americans were deemed an acceptable sacrifice. I felt that keenly at 21 and it hurt. I can only imagine how it felt for much younger kids growing up in Missouri and Arkansas.

Ten years after having the most powerful man in the country paint a target on our backs, marriage equality has come to Arkansas. It’s already being attacked and the pro-marriage equality attorney general has vowed to defend the original ban in court nonetheless, but I’m ridiculously proud to be a Razorback today.

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~ by blackmoodcraft on May 12, 2014.

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