Thursday, August 30, 2012

Brian & Chuck

Brian McEntee was production designer on Ice Age, and Cats Don't Dance, and art director on Beauty and the Beast and The Brave Little Toaster.  Besides being a super talent, he is also a super guy. Here, he shares his thoughts on sharing 30 years with his domestic partner, Chuck Richardson

by Brian McEntee
Chuck and I are celebrating our 30th anniversary today, although we’ve been legally married in the State of California for only 4 years (As Chuck puts it, “It was a very long engagement.”). Emily Post doesn’t list any special type of gift to give for the 30th anniversary, so I came up with my own gift that all of you can give us: support for our federally recognized marriage rights.

Marriage equality is precisely meant for people like the two of us. Opponents like to point to promiscuous gays among us and claim all gays will denigrate the institution of marriage for straights. But marriage is not for promiscuous people, gay or straight. It is for two people who have made a commitment to each other. And promiscuous straight people can already get married, so I don’t see the logic in this argument.

The truth is, Chuck and I are our own little family of two. My parents are both gone, and my siblings all live far away. Chuck’s mom is still alive and he has siblings too, but none live close by either. We are the only immediate family each of us can rely on. With this in mind, imagine having your own significant other suffer a medical emergency and not be able to make medical decisions for him or her, or even have hospital visitation rights. Or, imagine having one or the other of you die and, after 30 years of building a life together, having a relative of your spouse have the legal right to all their possessions and you have none. This is what gay couples face in states that do not recognize gay marriage and why federally legalizing gay marriage is vitally important.  And even though we are legally married in CA, if we have an emergency situation while traveling in another state that does not recognize our marriage, nothing requires them to recognize our married status--thus the need to federalize these rights.

Even if you have misgivings about gay marriage on your own personal moral or religious grounds--and that’s your right--you should support legalizing secular gay marriage. We support your right to live out your beliefs. And those who believe gay marriage is wrong should never, ever get gay married. But, just as we allow you the unencumbered practice of your beliefs, we should be allowed ours, and be allowed the same freedom to live them out too. If what Chuck and I share is sinful in your God’s eyes, isn’t that our business? Shouldn’t that be between your God and us? Doesn’t your God allow free will as a part of the process of your faith?

Marriage equality is not a religious argument anyway. It is a political straw dog. Many Christian denominations and other religious faiths marry gay couples already--they are well ahead of the federal and state governments on this. Each church and religious group is free to make their own choice about who they marry, and that will not change with legal recognition. (For example, the Catholic Church will only marry Catholics to other Catholics.) But secular marriage is where all the legal rights sit--this is the arena necessitating a change to include gay couples.

Those who know Chuck and me personally know how well our relationship works. My life has been enriched and has flourished by his being in it and I cannot imagine life without him. The stability and mutual support of our relationship has also allowed us to be of help to aging and dying parents, siblings in need of a hand, and our friends and neighbors.

Please help make this our best anniversary ever by making your support for gay marriage known through your votes and publicly expressed opinion. Feel free to share my post with your Facebook friends and progress the conversation. Thank you.

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