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FYI, I’ll be on Lansing Online News tonight at 7, talking about Fable: Blood of Heroes, writing, and whatever else comes up. You can check the Ustream broadcast, or if you’re local, you can listen on 89.7 FM.


I’m 41 years old. When I was in elementary school, we played a game called Smear the Queer. I had no idea what “queer” actually meant. I just thought of it as another fun roughhousing game, basically like tag with the added bonus of getting to tackle someone at the end.

The movie Teen Wolf came out in 1985, when I was eleven. It included Michael J. Fox having the following exchange with a friend:

“You aren’t gonna tell me you’re a fag are you? Because I don’t think I can handle that.”
No, no…I’m not a fag. I’m a werewolf.”

As recently as 2003, laws against sodomy were still on the books in fourteen states (including my own state of Michigan).

In 2005, my home state of Michigan passed a Constitutional Amendment stating:

To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.

On Friday June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that Constitutional Amendment and others, ruling that same-sex marriage was legal throughout the United States.


This feels monumental.

I know the U.S. and humanity as a whole still has a great deal of work to do when it comes to addressing social inequities and discrimination, but this was huge. I think about the treatment and awareness of LGBT people during my childhood and look at how much that’s changed over the course of a generation…the fact that the White House was lit up in rainbow colors to celebrate the legalization of same-sex marriage… It’s joyful.

White House - Rainbow

I’ve seen people say that, because they’re straight, this ruling doesn’t directly affect them. And I think I understand what they mean. Friday doesn’t affect my 12-year marriage to a woman in any way. It doesn’t change my family or financial situation or legal security in all the ways it can for people in same-sex relationships.

The impact isn’t the same, but it does affect me. It fills me with joy and pride. It brings a sense of relief for friends and loved ones. It rekindles hope that my country can become better, and that we can overcome discrimination.

(It also screwed up my productivity on Friday, because instead of working on my book, I was scrolling through social media to see all of the celebration and happiness. I’ve decided that I’m okay with that.)

I recognize that this was a long, hard-fought battle, and this victory doesn’t end people’s struggles. The United States is one country, not the world. Friday didn’t magically erase hate and bigotry. And it will likely lead to more of the pushback we’ve been seeing against inclusiveness, diversity, and acceptance.

But it’s still a joyful thing, one I choose to celebrate. When I listened to a friend and coworker fighting back tears as she talks to Human Resources about adding her wife to her benefits…when I think of friends who left Michigan after we passed that amendment in 2005, whose legal status will now be recognized if they choose to return…when I see my friends online celebrating their relationships, and I can’t even tell who’s updating and commenting on Facebook because so many people have rainbowized their icons…I can’t understand how anyone could fail to be moved by such an outpouring of shared joy and love.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's Rainbow Facebook picture

I look at the hate crimes and racially motivated terrorism we’ve seen in recent weeks, the bile and bigotry coming out in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the narrow-mindedness and the utter lack of empathy, the blinding fanaticism and extremism and hate. The victory of June 26, 2015 reminds me why we fight against these things: because change for the better is possible.

I am so happy for everyone whose lives will be better as a result of this ruling, and I’m happy for my country for taking a step toward fairness and equality.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 29th, 2015 04:13 pm (UTC)
I think if I'd given an opinion a week or so ago, I'd've said something along the lines of "It doesn't really have a lot to do with me, because I'm straight, but [..]," and then said something about it being a jolly good idea just on the principle of the thing.

What's struck me this past few days is how happy it's made me feel reading how happy others have been made by this. Despite my veneer of Anglo-Saxon, straight, middle-aged distance from all that emotional stuff, it really did make me feel glad on other people's behalf. (Maybe I'm not dead inside, after all....)
Jun. 29th, 2015 04:30 pm (UTC)
I actually got work done on Friday, but only because some of the work I had to do was graphical, and the kind of thing I could do while higly distracted. Which is good, because there was twitter, and there was tearing up at work three times and... yeah.

I was trying to explain it to one of my labmates. This has been my whole adult life, and I only say adult because prior to me getting my majority folks were mostly focused on things like establishing that the gay panic defense was bogus. (Not that that's entirely gone away. And it did seem to take watching a our community die to wake people up to the fact that there was more to being gay than just being perverts.)

In the early ninties, I was one of the people who really wondered if it was really the time to fight for marriage, and if maybe we should focus on things like housing and employment protection first. Maybe in another twenty years, I said, then. Not to long ago, I was thinking about this, and realized that, in fact, it's been twenty years now. Holy fuck. (This is not profanity, this is prayer.)

It does seem like I could feel the ground shift beneath my feet and settle in a new place.

...maybe we can work on that employment protection thing now? And not treating trans folks like crap? (The announcement of transition coverage for federal employees kind of got lost in the party, but it really shouldn't have.)

But still. Holy fuck.
Jun. 29th, 2015 05:12 pm (UTC)
Oh, God. The gay panic defense. So...much...WTF.

"...maybe we can work on that employment protection thing now? And not treating trans folks like crap?"

Sounds good to me!
Jun. 29th, 2015 05:51 pm (UTC)
It's neither long ago nor far away. I mean, heck, I'm only a year older than you are. I grew up in queer neighborhood - which was a tremondous privilege for a queer kid. I mean, really, my worst coming out angst is all the time I spent trying to figure out which gender I had to give up (this being my understanding of gender at the time) before I really got it through my head that bi was a thing you could be.* The flip side is that my coming of age was all mixed up in watching an awful lot of people die. (I have sometimes tried to explain to friends and lovers why on certain topics I go from 0-60 rabid. In my head, there are still scungy old walls on which someone has spray painted SILENCE = DEATH. I suppose nothing short of Alzheimer's is changing that.)

But I think the extent to which we as a society decide via popularity contest who is a member of our society and who gets protection is one of those things we often try not to look at straight on. The friend I know who sufferred the worst - and horrible, and permanent injuries - from a gay-bashing, happened to be straight. (Homophobes, not possessed of the best gay-dar, who knew?)

But then, a close relative was a stripper for many years, and I became aware of the stigma in many police departments, where anyone who was involved in the sex industry, no matter in what legal ways, was pretty much assumed to be asking it and not fully deserving of protection. I spent a while terrified not of her job, but that if anything did happen to her, she would be written off as disposable because she was obviously one of those people. (And a lot of gains of have been made. But.)

It makes me think a lot about the people we're already not inviting to the table.

Anyhow! More weddings! More parties! More tables! Nothing's perfect, but when you're trying to build a world out of imperfect pieces, you have to celebrate everything.

* Well, okay, and that I ended up coming out to my mother three times, because she kept "forgetting". Even though our working agreement was that I wasn't going to bother to lie to her, so if she didn't want to know, she better not ask.
Jun. 29th, 2015 06:54 pm (UTC)
The "who we aren't inviting to the table" is messing with my head. The fact that it also opens the doors for marriage for trans- individuals with no restriction on their partner's gender is fantastic. And the slippery slope arguments with animals and whatnot are patently ridiculous... for the most part.
But specific points such as nonreproductive adult incest (despite my inherent revulsion) or chimpanzee recognizance (not currently valid since there's no way they have an idea of legal rights, but could be developed) or polygamy (problematic as most commonly practiced in history, cementing male power structures) are sticking in my craw. I still haven't come up with full pictures of what I want to say in response, and I'm sure they'll come up with more complicated objections.

To both: Yeah, I spent most of Friday and a good part of Saturday scrolling through rainbow flags almost instinctively... today I realized I was doping up.
Jun. 29th, 2015 07:59 pm (UTC)
The who we aren't inviting to the table was more me riffing on the "gay panic" defense idea. What does it take for someone to be "obviously" outside of the protections of the society? (We're rather in the middle of a discussion around this regarding people of color.)

That being said, I'm pretty dubious about drawing conclusiongs about polygamy in general from historical male dominance. After all, if we're going to go that route, we should have gotten rid of straight marriage (but perhaps still instituted gay marriage ;-) ) I mean, marital rape has only become illegal in the US during my lifetime, and I'm only forty-two. I would suspect that the generally speaking, the equitibility of polygamous relationships would roughly reflect that of the societies they occured within. Certainly, a survey of polyamorous relationship amongst people I know would not suggest male dominance.

(I am reminded, not pleasantly, of moving to Cleveland from Seattle, joining the local polyamory mailing list, and having someone remark how surprised they were to find such an outspoken feminist such as myself - and seriously, I would hardly stand out as such on a similar list in Seattle - being at all interested in polyamory. I.... Ugh. No. So many kinds of no and fail. WTF. There are many things about Ohio that I absolutely love, but this was not the only way in which it was a really difficult move.)

I'm not certain there isn't some legal precedent about non-reproductive adult incest and right to privacy... but this is very dim memory, and I don't know how broadly it would apply even if my memory is more or less correct. It really doesn't strike me as my business, any more than it's my business what someone's genitals look like underneath their clothes, or what kind of sex they like to have. An awful lot of people get up to all kinds of things. Many of those things I don't personally want to be part of, but that's a pretty different bar than thinking there's a positive social reason for interfering.

The handling of chimpanzees is certainly an interesting one. (And a contentious one in one part of my field - I'm a neurobiologist - though I've side stepped the matter by working with sea slugs, myself. My slugs have 1/50th as many neurons as a cockroach. I try to treat them well, and a lot of my work is computational modelling, but even PETA hasn't had anything to say to us that I know of.) I think there are a lot of different, if related, questions there - because deciding they have much greater right to legal protections isn't the same thing as deciding to, say, try to mainstream them into society. (From what I know of attempts to raise chimpanzees in human homes - even by people who knew quite a bit about them - this would almost certainly work really, really badly.) So is it a right to be left alone? A right to habitat? What about healthcare?

* Note, I am using the general term, polygamy, not polygyny or polyandry.
Jun. 29th, 2015 08:38 pm (UTC)
I have to second tylik regarding polygamy. "Problematic as most commonly practiced in history" describes all kinds of marriage -- monogamy most definitely included -- and is not, to my eye, a strong argument for making something illegal now.

(For me, the big obstacle regarding polygamy is logistical. Once we stopped treating "husband" and "wife" as entities with different legal rights, same-sex marriage became almost completely a non-issue on the logistical front. But we have a lot of laws based around the assumption that there are two people in the marriage, and would have to rethink all that stuff in order to legalize polygamy, alongside the social sea-change. Which is not an insurmountable obstacle . . . but it is a non-trivial one.)
Jun. 29th, 2015 04:49 pm (UTC)
I remember "smear the queer", though I hadn't thought about it since Jr. high. And like you, I had no idea what that meant at the time.

I get the "doesn't directly affect me" thing - while my wife is Bi, it's not as though I'm afraid she's going to leave me for a woman or something like that. But this does mean that many of my friends and acquaintances can travel the country without worrying over whether their relationships are recognized. Including both the minister who married us and the woman who's the current pastor at our church. So yeah, definitely an indirect effect on my life, and well worth celebrating.
Jun. 29th, 2015 05:44 pm (UTC)
I am reminded of a poignant sight, back in 1991 when I visited the Musee de la Resistance in Lyons. Things like printing presses and leaflets...and a uniform from a concentration camp. With a pink triangle. And not a word of explanation. I wept. As for the folks who think this has nothing to do with them, what if the world had risen up in outrage when gays were targeted for extermination? Before the Jews, before the gypsies, before the Catholics...? Injustice harms us all. Hatred threatens us all.

On a lighter note, now I might even get to dance at my daughter's wedding...
Jun. 29th, 2015 06:13 pm (UTC)
So much happy.

It seems like lately, all the news has been bad and filled with hate. So when "Love Wins," it really lifted me up.

I am (among all the other hats I wear) an ordained nondenominational minister, and also do handfastings for various Pagan folk. The first marriage rite I ever did was for a pair of women, and I've always wondered if they were still together, wherever they ended up. If they are, I hope they are celebrating along with all my friends and family who are gay.

And me--because finally, there was something in the news that was worthy of celebration.
Jun. 29th, 2015 07:14 pm (UTC)
Good for you, and Arnie, too!

So many people can be so dumb.
Jun. 30th, 2015 04:13 am (UTC)
I can't like this sentiment enough.
Jun. 29th, 2015 07:14 pm (UTC)
"The victory of June 26, 2015 reminds me why we fight against these things: because change for the better is possible."

Yes, precisely this. These victories are the payoff of years and years of work, and prove that progress can be made.

I spend much of my time in MA, so in a way this is more of a "those 14 holdout states will finally have to catch up"... and even so I was surprised by how I get goosebumps every time I read that opinion. No more excuses, no more patchwork of laws and bans and lower-court rulings; no more wondering if my marriage is valid if I cross state lines.

My hope is that in 20 years this is taken for granted by most people the way interracial marriage was by the people around me when I was 10 years old in 1987. The victory is sweet as hell, but the war will truly be over when this is just normal, and the bigots are considered nasty little footnotes of history.
Jun. 29th, 2015 07:49 pm (UTC)
Like you, I find my heart filled with joy for friends who no longer have to fight battles to have their marriages recognized in some states. I also think we have many more battles yet to fight, but that doesn't make this win any less worth celebrating....
Jun. 30th, 2015 04:12 am (UTC)
I'm incredibly happy for this moment. And for what it means.

But I'm also aware it's just one step along the road to acceptance.

Still... In 1993, Cincinnati passed an ordinance banning any so-called "special rights" for LGBT people, with heavy support from the African-american community.
Eleven years later the ordinance was overturned by another popular vote, and Cincinnati now has not only an openly gay councilmember but Jim Obergefell singing the city's praises. My kids' public high school is accepting of LGBT students, and for a school on the West Side to say that (the more conservative and Catholic part of a conservative and Catholic city) that's an accomplishment.

We've got a long way to go, but we've come a long way in such a short time.

Just like the rest of the country.
Jun. 30th, 2015 09:25 am (UTC)
I grew up in the UK, where Section 28 wasn't repealed until I was nearly 30.

I vaguely understood that gay and lesbian people existed, but only via media stereotyping and tragic films about AIDS; pretty much the only out people I knew personally were relatives in another country, and I had no real understanding that B and T even existed (let alone genderqueer, asexual, etc etc) until I went to university and took in that there were LGBT groups around and eventually came to understand a lot more.

The UK has had same-sex civil partnerships for over a decade, and same-sex marriage for about a year, and my children are growing up with a much more diverse idea of happy healthy relationships than I did, and I am so happy that this is the case.
Jun. 30th, 2015 05:17 pm (UTC)
The Supreme court decision is a major step forward in the fight for equality and acceptance. There are still deep pockets of resistance, as we have seen in some of the southern states who are saying they don't have to issue marriage certificates if they don't want to. I'm hoping/waiting for a smack-down from the Supreme court on them.

I'm straight but I too wept for joy at the decision. I actually got to tell my summer student that her marriage to her sweetie Jess is now legal in all 50 states. We both cried. We've come a long ways in my lifetime. When I was growing up, I knew no gay people (at least any that were willing to admit it) and it simply was not talked about. I think it's much better now but I can't help but think there will be rough times ahead.
Jul. 2nd, 2015 06:16 am (UTC)
I'm significantly older than you, and "smear the queer" was apparently after my time. But I do remember that in junior high (specifically -- I don't recall this from either elementary or high school, but it was rampant in grades 7 and 8), "queer" was the all-purpose insult. At the time, I had no idea what it meant; I figured that out much later. Looking back, I have to wonder how many people around me did know and were using it out of malice, how many people who were targeted by it* felt it as a personal blow.

* I certainly came in for my share of it, as a class outcast -- and I know I used it as well. But it didn't have any more meaning to me than "cooties", which was another common insult, did.
Jul. 2nd, 2015 07:12 pm (UTC)
I remember just assuming that any insult I didn't know the precise meaning of was an anti-gay slur, which I think worked about 80% of the time.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )


Jim C. Hines


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