Dolly Parton and Melissa Etheridge were interviewed by Oprah years ago after teaming on an album and Dolly stated her position on legalizing gay marriage by saying, "Hell, I believe they should be just as miserable as the rest of us." Of course, it got a big laugh and made a heck of an impression on me. Dolly Parton has been married to the same man since May 30, 1966, nearly forty-five years. Given that she's mastered the art of being flirtatious and emphasizing all the good physical traits with which the good Lord has endowed her, that surprises most people.
What also surprises people is that gay couples can enjoy equally long monogamous relationships, although it rarely gets press. Instead, we see story after story of how gay love is not real, and even if it approximates what heterosexual couples enjoy, it will crumble when the going gets tough and there are no legal consequences for walking away. That line of reasoning, propagated by right wing evangelical thinkers, is exactly what seeps into our gay community's collective subconscious and feeds the serial monogamy rampant in gay and lesbian circles.
Despite whether it happens for gay and lesbian couples or for heterosexual couples, it's remarkable when people who are committed to one another stick out the rough patches that are inevitable for any couple. I believe this phenomenon occurs when the commitment to one another comes from a shared belief in the sanctity of the relationship. Gay and lesbian couples want something that is really simple in theory, but profoundly intricate in practice: equal marriage rights.
As Dolly said, we simply want the right to be as miserable as everyone else. What makes that statement so outrageous is its truth. There are many dark, difficult periods in long term relationships. They are born out of misunderstandings and fear of sharing our deepest thoughts and beliefs for fear that they will be met with rejection. They manifest themselves in infidelity, dishonesty, and fear. The true test of any relationship is how each person in the relationship deals with those hurdles. Anyone who has come through those dark periods intact, knows the joy born from the choice to stay together is capable of lighting up even the darkest nights.
So, as Donna and I count down the days to our 11th anniversary, I'm blessed to sit next to my best friend, the woman with whom I've grown so much and share countless blessings. And the one thing I will continue to pray for is the day when I can legally marry her. What I don't know is whether when that day comes Skye will be our flower girl and Hunter will be the ring bearer or they will stand with us as legal witnesses. What I do know is that together, we will continue to joyfully wait for the day when, as was said at our civil union, "the State of New Jersey catches up with what God intended."
- Stacy Graffam
- I'm a lesbian mom in an inter-racial relationship, living in Bergen County, NJ. My wife and I are raising two beautiful children, an eleven year-old son and a six year-old daughter. I'll be sharing our adventures in faith and parenting on a regular basis. My entries are also published in Gay Parent Magazine (www.gayparentmag.com).