Not Full Citizens – The Progressive, 10/23/2006

The New York Supreme Court exhibited classic, pre-9/11 thinking in its ruling that the state constitution does not permit gay couples to marry. 9/11 BC. The court’s majority referenced sexual preference rather than sexual orientation. They “reasoned” that since same sex parents don’t have children by “accident or impulse”, gay parenting is unhealthy for children. This is not a decision. This is a cry for help.

Or maybe they are really just protecting gay couples from the horror that is marriage? Is this the new “closeted tolerance”? I’m not a lawyer, but the Court’s brief made so little sense, I began to worry that my worst fears had been realized. Is it possible that the Domino’s Pizza School of Law has graduated its first class and is already fast-tracking them onto the state’s highest bench?

Please note that commentators on the cable shows did not sneer endlessly that these are activist judges. No, the New York Supreme Court was just doing the right thing.

Since the decision in our so-called liberal state, I’ve been trying to rally my fellow gay New Yorkers. Because we are apparently not full citizens of our Empire State, I think we should jaywalk whenever we want. Decline to do jury duty. And I don’t think gay people should pay taxes. A friend pointed out that they put people in jail for not paying taxes. Au contraire, I said, neither they nor their corporations do time, except on golfing junkets.

In the face of the horribollah of the Mideast, my plaint can sound like queer-quibbling, even to me. But rulings in New York, California and many other states, not only make gay people morally expendable They also have very real life consequences, even in Massachusetts, the home of gay marriage.

On June 26, 2006, my good friend Eric Rofes died suddenly in Provincetown, MA. Each day it becomes clearer what a huge loss his death is for the gay community. Eric, almost fifty-two, organizer, educator, historian, sex radical, feminist, thinker and writer, had cut his activist teeth in Boston in the 1970s. He lived in San Francisco and was in his beloved Ptown for the summer working on his twelfth book.

His death was discovered on Monday night and by Tuesday evening, many of his friends from his old Boston Gay Mafia days, now national gay leaders, gathered in Ptown. Crispin, Eric’s partner of sixteen years finally arrived from San Francisco late Tuesday afternoon, stunned and stricken. He had in hand Eric’s power of attorney, his will and their domestic partner papers. We found the only cantor on Cape Cod through the Yellow Pages and planned his funeral.

Crispin wanted an autopsy to learn the cause of death. Despite their sixteen years, he was told that he would need Eric’s mother’s authorization.

You do not want to anger gay lawyers who are heads of national organizations in their time of grief.

The autopsy was performed and revealed a massive heart attack and undiagnosed congestive heart disease, important information for Eric’s surviving brother.

Crispin wanted to honor Eric’s wishes for cremation and was informed again that he would need the mother’s authorization.

Again, the angry gay lawyers on cellphones.

Eric had powerful, relentless, connected friends to fulfill his final wishes. But what of other Crispins, in small and large towns, paralyzed by grief, going it alone, with no energy or agency to decide what will become of their partner’s remains? They are the collateral accidents from unjust impulses.

Kate “Everybody back to Ethics School” Clinton is a humorist.