Remember when I said the Obamas appear to have a good partnership? And how they seem to love each other deeply? And then last night while happy tears streamed down my face, Michelle Obama went out to greet her husband after his acceptance speech and I read her lips saying "I love you" and they both looked so happy? Rich turned to me and said, "See, baby. The guy who loves his wife is going to be president." Yeah, that was great. But they weren't all happy tears last night. The concession speech that John McCain gave was probably one of the most reasonable things he's said in the last eight years. He was focused and civil and kind and perhaps a bit relieved. And while McCain even flirted with the idea of hope (without ever saying the word), his own supporters booed. Seriously, people? You're fucking booing? This isn't a baseball game, it's an election and I would hope you could be a little more adult than that.
Then the results for Proposition 8 started coming in, and it just seemed like we were taking two steps forward and one step back. I have a hard time wrapping my head around anyone who would vote for that ban, let alone over 5 million people. Maybe a million of them were confused by the Yes/No answer and thought they were voting to allow same-sex marriages. Maybe a million people's hands slipped and fell on the wrong voting box. Maybe another million were just so insecure in their own chance for happiness and personal satisfaction that they wanted to limit the number of neighbors that might be happily wed while they stayed bitter and alone. But that still leaves several million Californians that I cannot understand.
One of the readings from our wedding last year was from Plato's Symposium:
Humans have never understood the power of Love, for if they had they would surely have built noble temples and altars and offered solemn sacrifices; but this is not done, and most certainly ought to be done, since Love is our best friend, our helper, and the healer of the ills which prevent us from being happy.
To understand the power of Love, we must understand that our original human nature was not like it is now, but different. Human beings each had two sets of arms, two sets of legs, and two faces looking in opposite directions. … Due to the power and might of these original humans, the Gods began to fear that their reign might be threatened. They sought for a way to end the humans’ insolence without destroying them.
It was at this point that Zeus divided the humans in half. After the division the two parts of each desiring their other half, came together, and throwing their arms about one another, entwined in mutual embraces, longing to grow into one. So ancient is the desire of one another which is implanted in us, reuniting our original nature, making one of two, and healing the state of humankind.
Each of us when separated, having one side only, is but the indenture of a person, and we are always looking for our other half. … And when one of us meets our other half, we are lost in an amazement of love and friendship and intimacy, and would not be out of the other’s sight even for a moment. We pass our whole lives together, desiring that we should be melted into one, to spend our lives as one person instead of two, and so that after our death there will be one departed soul instead of two; this is the very expression of our ancient need. And the reason is that human nature was originally one and we were a whole, and the desire and pursuit of the whole is called Love.
If you manage to find your other half, I don't believe any one individual or even 5 million of them have the right to take that person away from you. Others may belittle your relationship, call your other half your "roommate", your "friend", or things much worse, but they're speaking with insecurity and jealousy. I have faith, though, that even if this proposition really passes, it is not a judgment on those whose marriages may be nullified, but a judgment on all the others who voted out of fear and ignorance and a lack of understanding. Last night in Chicago, Barack said that Michelle was his best friend, the rock of his family, and the love of his life. And he never said the word wife or spouse, because I believe that for him all those things are synonymous.
I propose that everyone should look at your own marriage (I'm particularly looking at about 5 million of you over on the west coast). Is that person your best friend? Is that person the love of your life? Do you mention him or her as such to your co-workers or write those words in on tax forms and legal documents? Perhaps for you the word husband or wife is a suitable term for everything you vowed on your wedding day. I contend that everyone should have the right to use that term for one person in his or her life. And if the word spouse really does mean the same thing to all people and we're all on the same page, then maybe we will be that much closer to being equal.