Don't Tell

Boiling It All Down

Vote ButtonI have some dear friends whom I greatly respect who will vote for Donald Trump. Some of them appear to be voting for him because they really have an intense dislike for Hillary Clinton. Some of them are voting for Trump because they genuinely believe he will provide them with greater economic opportunity, which they truly need. And then there are those who will vote for Trump out of a variety of fears. I don’t really think any of my friends fit in that later category.

I still will respect and hold dear any of my friends who vote for Trump or a third party candidate. I believe strongly that each citizen in our democracy has a right to vote for whomever they want to vote. I harbor no ill will at all.

I confess that I don’t understand why people have an intense dislike for Hillary. I once thought it was because of the endless smear campaign Fox News and the Republican party have had against her for decades. But some of my friends are very bright and informed and, well, frankly they are too smart to fall for the Fox agenda. So, I don’t understand this one. I don’t have to. I accept it. I wouldn’t vote for a person for whom I had an intense dislike either. And, well, honestly, that’s one reason I won’t vote for Trump. I find him personally, well, to borrow a word, deplorable.

I do understand people needing a candidate that they believe will support their economic best interests. I get that reason. However, I personally think that Trump will only enrich himself and those, like him, who are already beyond wealthy. I don’t think he cares about the middle class. In my opinion, a man who obviously has no loyalty to his own wife is not going to think about the middle class or anybody else–just himself. I wish Donald Trump did care about the economic welfare of the middle class, but his pattern of bankruptcies (6 of them) and his numerous examples of refusing to pay people who worked for him demonstrates otherwise to me.

But one of the really big reasons I would never vote for Donald Trump is his ongoing, self-declared commitment to appointing conservative, right-winged judges to the Supreme Court that will work to end my marriage. I do hope my straight friends can understand that. Would you vote for a person who you knew would dissolve your “straight” marriage? (Well, maybe some would, actually! LOL–that being a joke)

It Just Keeps On Giving

Marriage Equality Wedding Rings2008

Ours has been the marriage that keeps on giving. Steve and I were married in 2008, in that brief window in California when marriage equality was the law of the land. We had been together for years and years prior to that.

Then, shockingly, also in 2008, our marriage went into limbo when the citizens in the state of California voted on Proposition 8, which ended marriage equality. Was our marriage then valid? We didn’t know. Again, I ask my straight friends, can you imagine your marriage just being voted away? It’s inconceivable to you, I know. It’s absurd. Unthinkable. And this was the moment I became an outspoken activist for marriage equality: Nobody has the right to vote away another’s marriage, nobody.

The state of California then announced, after weeks of deliberation, that the 14,000 marriages that had taken place in that narrow window of time when marriage equality was the law of the state, remained valid marriages recognized by the state. Of course they were not recognized by the federal government.

You have no idea what a confused mess doing our federal taxes was. It was a nightmare. Expert accountants (who charged a bloody fortune) couldn’t even figure it out!

2013

In June, 2013, the Supreme Court struck down the federal law known as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and also, in Hollingsworth v. Perry, allowed marriage equality once again in the state of California. Our marriage was finally recognized by both the state and federal governments. Yay! Doing our taxes was just like anyone else doing their taxes. We were married.

2014

In November, 2014, we moved back to Georgia. Oops! Oh my god! Suddenly our marriage was no longer valid in this state but was valid at the federal level. Tax time was, once again, a weird mess.

2015

In June, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States settled the issue once and for all in Obergefell v. Hodges. Marriage equality was the law of the land. We were finally married again, and this time our marriage was legally recognized in all 50 states.

So this is the single most significant reason I will never vote for any candidate, like Trump, that will work to dissolve my marriage. In this sense, I’m a single issue voter. My marriage is as sacred to me as it is to anyone else. My love for my spouse is as significant to me as is anyone else’s love for his/her spouse.

I think that, if I were married to a spouse of the opposite sex, I would still never vote for a candidate that would strip away marriage equality–end someone else’s marriage. But that is an easy decision for me to make now, because I’ve personally experienced the outrage of having people vote my marriage off the island as if it were some participant in a reality TV show. Until you have lived through that experience, I don’t think you can understand how hurtful it feels.

Don't TellThe End of Accommodation

For many, many years I felt required to accommodate people’s limitations: their bigotry against gay people. I never publicly acknowledged in my workplace the fact that I loved my partner of many years, that I even had one, or that I was even gay. I really don’t think people were stupid and didn’t suspect.

Obviously, I never mentioned a wife. In my last job assignment, one person asked me if I was married. I simple replied, “No.” (I wasn’t at that time.) and then asked about their family. People certainly were talking about it behind my back all the time, whispering “Is he gay?” But, they could only suspect.

I was never ashamed of my longterm relationship with Steve, I cherished it. But I felt confident that I would not be able to do the work that I did if some people knew I was gay. Some people are rabidly homophobic. Some people just fear that which they do not understand. I understood those realities. So, I chose to live in “Don’t ask. Don’t tell.” to accommodate their limitations.

I don’t think most heterosexuals can understand how confining that is. Imagine never being able to talk about your spouse at work or even acknowledging you have one. As we would go places and do things together, I would blog about them here. But I often found wording the experiences so as to exclude any mention of Steve a difficult and burdensome task. While he understood, I’m sure he found it distasteful. Everyone in his workplace always knew about me. My picture was on his desk. They didn’t care.

After moving to California, where literally all of the straight people I met could care less about a person’s sexual orientation, I was vastly more open about my then marriage. I will never forget the first time the coolest straight guy I had known up to that point very casually said, before driving off after a meeting with me, “Give my love to Steve.” That’s the way anyone should be. Yet, I found it stunning the first time I heard it. Peter, a heterosexual married man with kids, like most people in California, got it.

Once again, I’ve returned to the deep south which seems to have made some progress on this issue. What has changed the most though is my attitude. I no longer will expend any of my life energy trying to accommodate people’s limitations related to homophobia. I’m not living loud or flamboyantly. That’s not who I am. I’m a fairly quiet soul, like my father. But I no longer have any patience for homophobia. None. Zero.

So, all of that to say: I will never vote for a candidate that will not fully support my marriage to the person I love. Marriage equality, my marriage, matters to me a great, great deal. A vote for Trump is a vote to end my marriage. For some that would be a badge of honor, I know. For others, that will merely be an unfortunate casualty of politics. But for others, like Ken Bone, this is a deeply difficult decision.

The Undecided Voter

Ken Bone
Ken Bone, Undecided Voter

Mr. Ken Bone, 34, an operator at a coal plant in Illinois, was one of the undecided voters who asked a question during the second presidential debate. His question was, “What steps will your energy policy take to meet our energy needs while at the same time remaining environmentally friendly and minimizing job layoffs?”

He’s worried. I really understand why. I would be too if I were in his shoes. But what I find so fascinating is why he is still an undecided voter. Here’s his explanation in his own words:

“Donald Trump, he might have my economic interests more in mind, just from a personal level. He will help my coal-fired power industry probably more than Secretary Clinton and give me a lot of future for my wallet and my ability to take care of my family.

But on the other hand, if he’s allowed to appoint the next Supreme Court nominee, there’s a very good chance that we could lose some of the rights that we’ve fought for for the last eight years, rights that all Americans should share, like marriage equality. And I do not want to see anyone’s rights taken away.

So that’s what makes it difficult for me. It’s–we’re looking at a personal interest versus community interest election.”

In another interview he said:

“I would really hate for anyone’s rights to be taken back,” Bone told the late night host Jimmy Kimmel. “We fought so hard to get marriage equality and to get rights expanded to more Americans and I couldn’t–it would be unconscionable for me to see those taken away by a Supreme Court justice appointed by Donald Trump.”

Wow. Prior to reading his comments, I thought no one in his/her right mind could be undecided at this point. But now I get it. And I deeply respect this man for grappling with this difficult choice in such a thoughtful and clearly defined way. There really are a lot of exceptionally good people in our country: wonderful people with great big hearts!

3 thoughts on “Boiling It All Down”

  1. I love this story, Tim, I just want you to know I will not be voting for Donald Trump, but I can’t in good conscience vote for Hillary Clinton. I love you very much and want only health and happiness to you and Stephen.

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