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Marry free … or move to New Hampshire?

This piece will appear in the June 17th print issue of Creative Loafing, and they’ve already posted it online at their website. Read it here or at CL (you can post your comments at either site) or just look for it at newsstands on Wednesday (the 17th) if you prefer!

Ah, New Hampshire – that bastion of backwoods, barns, and covered bridges – has given me yet another reason to love it: On June 3, the Granite State legalized marriage between same-sex couples.

I’ve had a major jones for New Hampshire since catching my first glimpse of that state’s motto — “Live Free or Die” – while on a family vacation when I was a teenager.

Born in Florida and high-schooled in Ohio, I hadn’t exactly been exposed to a population where the concept of living freely was a subject of any conversation, much less a fiercely asserted axiom emblazoned on the backside of every passing car.

Later, when I went to college, I drove straight back to New Hampshire — a state I loved because it was, and apparently still is, a place where people mind their own business and let others mind their own as well.

In Florida, people spend massively more time minding everybody else’s business — which explains why photos of décolletage and dollared-up dinner-goers still get so much ink in the society pages of local publications while serious content shrinks abysmally next-to-nothing. And, it explains why dumb laws, like last year’s Amendment Two which effectively banned gay marriage, get passed here.

Six states — Iowa, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, and now New Hampshire –have come to the fair-minded and constitutionally-supported conclusion that gays should have the same unalienable rights as heterosexuals to pursue life, liberty, and happiness in the form of marriage.

Florida, however, remains an intellectual backwater on the subject.

Floridians actually say things like “I don’t mind gays,” or “Gays don’t bother me,” but then they qualify those barely-open-minded statements with caveats like “As long as they don’t flaunt their gayness” or “As long as they don’t come on to me.” And, those minds seem to close entirely when discussing the subjects of allowing gays to marry or adopt and raise children.

Yes, here in the Sunshine State, pretty much anyone can marry, for pretty much any reason, as long as it’s not in the name of “gay love.”

A heterosexual male who has beaten his first wife to a bloody pulp can freely seek out a new wife to knock around in a second or third marriage. A heterosexual female who makes a living by marrying strictly for money can walk down the aisle as often as she likes … as long as she can find yet another husband/sucker to take to the divorce cleaners.

Registered sex offenders and paroled pedophiles can marry with impunity under Florida law. Even Florida’s murderers and rapists – locked up in prison – are legally allowed to marry … while hard-working, tax-paying, community-volunteering, non-criminal, even church-going, gays are not.

But it’s not the first time Florida has been so stubbornly stupid. We had Anita Bryant whining about gays in the 1970s, and before that, marriage between blacks and whites wasn’t tolerated either.

It wasn’t until 1967, when the Supreme Court ruling of Loving v. Virginia forced individual states to allow interracial marriage, that Florida was dragged, kicking and screaming along with most other southern states, into acting with common human decency.

Looking back, don’t those times seem barbaric? So how come we’re still letting the same things happen now?

Why can’t Florida, for once, be ahead of some curve besides real estate busts and python infestations? Why can’t we step up to the plate and jump on the bandwagon of true freedom not just for some, but for all?

Florida needs to revisit the question of gay marriage.

Either that or risk losing all of us equal rights types — straight and gay — in a mass exodus to that quirky little state where folks of all sexual stripes can not just live free … they can marry free, as well.

Posted on June 8th, 2009Comments RSS Feed
One Response to Marry free … or move to New Hampshire?
  1. John W. Perkins
    June 9, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    I think it’s a totally lovely idea for two of the same sex to marry..

    I have a great fondness for my life-partner, Odis.. He’s very affectionate and devoted to me.. He will wait by the door in enthusiastic anticipation each evening and leap up upon me and give me all kinds of love..

    I believe it would be great if he and I could marry.. I don’t see why it would be a big deal just because he and I are both male.. Or, that I’m a man and he’s a cannine..

    Besides, I could use the tax write-off.


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