The Last Mile, by Noah St. John

When my mommas fight, they go on long car rides, come back and I hear our car stay still. They come in and Robin goes directly to the bedroom angry. Maria will sometimes make toast or water. I sit in my room quiet, listening like a radio antenna.

My mommas drive a CRV, they bought it brand new; the car is big boned practical. It is our car. I have been one with this CRV for so long now. We used to drive for miles out on the highway until I fell asleep. It has taken me to martial arts practice, and school plays. This is the car that took me to the Gay Pride parade where I skipped through the crowd throwing mini Oreos. This is the car I’ll learn to drive in; the car I’ll remember.

Last Tuesday night my mother Maria comes into the house with a weathered smile. My other mother Robin and I are sitting in the room. Maria asks us if we will take a drive with her. So we all get in the car, our hearts thudding in offbeat unison, and as we drive, silence settles in, and I wonder. Then I know. This is it.

And I didn’t imagine it would end like this. I didn’t imagine an ending at all but if they were going to tell me about the divorce, what a way to do it. I sit in the back seat. I wonder when they’ll say it; how they’ll say it.

I think about how my time will be split between them. I wonder what will happen when they see each other afterwards. Will it feel like collisions? I don’t want to meet another girlfriend.

I can’t imagine anything but this; it’s ending is unthinkable, my heart hurts at the thought of our last miles. These miles. Who will take the CRV?

In the back seat I think about how lucky we are to have had this family. Their twenty years of marriage, my fifteen with them. I remember when Maria drove away one night without saying where. I remember when I came to them crying at the idea of separation. I remember when Robin came out sobbing. I remember when Maria whispers at Robin to be quiet, and Robin yells louder.

I feel these walls crumbling; I don’t want this life to end. Maria starts to talk. I pinch my leg and look out the window. She tells me that our car, our CRV is just thirteen miles away from reaching one hundred thousand miles now. I wonder if this is part of the divorce speech or just a distraction. I feel angry. They should just say it.

She tells me the reason we took this ride, is so that we could all be there, one hundred thousand miles together; as the people who matter in her life. Slowly, I come to the realisation that this isn’t a break-up ride; this is a stay together ride.

We’re in the car, and we’re driving on a Tuesday night, and we’re ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and eighty seven miles in. We stop for onion rings and sundaes; keep driving… ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-three miles… Stevie Nicks… ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-six miles… Elton John. When we get to ninety-nine thousand nine hundred and ninety-nine miles, we hold hands…blast Melissa Etheridge and sing ‘Lucky’ at the top of our lungs.

There are too many reasons that my mommas found love in each others presence. There are too many moments when we are unbreakable, and in this moment we are one family, constructing road as we go; burning bridges behind us, adding mileage like graceful ageing… driving in our CRV, towards moonlight.

i from the Independent front page: Lords Wave Through Gay Marriage Bill.

Peers vote convincingly FOR same-sex marriage Bill and Wreckers routed as Lords backs gay marriage

The first gay weddings are expected in July of next year after the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill survived an attempt to wreck it following a heated two-day debate in the Lords.

A wrecking amendment was defeated by 390 votes to 148 and the measure was then given a second reading.

Opponents of the move will table amendments during the Bill’s committee stage in the Lords, in the hope of winning further safeguards for churches and public servants such as teachers and registrars who oppose same-sex marriage. But tonight’s big majority will reduce the prospects of them succeeding and jubilant supporters hope the Bill will now survive largely intact.
Lord Alli of Norbury, a gay Labour peer, welcomed “a stunning victory for equality”. He said: “There can be no doubt that the public, the House of Commons and now the House of Lords are in favour of marriage equality. Those opposed to this Bill should listen to the overwhelming voice of the majority, not just in both Houses of Parliament, but across the country.”

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of the gay equality pressure group Stonewall, said: “We’re absolutely delighted. We always expected a tough challenge in the House of Lords.” He said the rarely-used “fatal motion” tabled by opponents showed the lengths to which a minority of peers were still prepared to go to deny full equality to lesbian, gay and bisexual people. He added: “In the last 24 hours alone, opponents of equality in the Lords have compared loving, committed relationships to incest and polygamy. Britain’s 3.7m gay people don’t deserve to be second class citizens in their own country.”

But critics warned that their fight is not over. Bob Woollard, chairman of the Conservative Grassroots group, said: “We recognise that others, whilst having reservations about the Bill, were reluctant to take the unusual step of voting it down at this stage. We urge the House of Lords to fulfil its constitutional role to give full and proper scrutiny to this Bill,” he said. “There is still time for the Government to reconsider this un-Conservative proposal and we look forward to continuing to make the leadership aware of the deep reservations amongst the grassroots about the political and practical implications of this Bill.”
Tonight’s decisive vote was a boost for David Cameron, who was praised by some Labour peers for his “courage” in pressing ahead with gay marriage. The Prime Minister hopes that, now the Bill has received big majorities in both Houses of Parliament, the heat will go out of the debate. He believes that gay marriage will be accepted once it has been introduced, just as opposition to civil partnerships faded quickly after they were allowed.

Although peers do not normally vote against a Bill on its second reading, Lord Dear, a crossbench peer and former Chief Constable of the West Midlands, tried to stop the measure in its tracks with his wrecking amendment. He told peers the proposal could “completely alter the concept of marriage as we know it”,saying the Bill was “ill thought through” and had no democratic legitimacy. It was so “fatally flawed” that it was incapable of sensible amendment and should be sent back to “the drawing board”, he argued.

Lord Vinson, a Tory peer, warned that same-sex marriage could create a “moral mess” by fundamentally altering the “most important social structure ever known to mankind”. He added: “Fifty years ago those who criticised Christ were persecuted; today those who promote Christ are prosecuted…. We need the sort of legal protection that was given to conscientious objectors in the last war – a war that was fought to allow the very freedoms of expressions and thought that are under attack today.”

Baroness Stowell of Beeston, a government whip and equalities spokeswoman who won praise for her speeches in the debate, said the legislation was a “force for good” which would strengthen the institution of marriage. She said that, if further changes to the Bill were necessary to make protections for religious organisations clearer, the Government would consider doing so.

Lords at war: What they said

Lord Birt: “This brave Bill brings us one historic step closer to a better world.”
Lord Mackay: “I conclude that the union… in this Bill is not the institution of marriage but a new and different institution which deserves a name of its own.”
Lord Vinson: “If we mix up values and edges are no longer defined, it is like mixing many paints together. The end result is a dull, amorphous moral mess.
Lord Collins of Highbury: “My husband and I have taken every opportunity given to us to celebrate our 16-year relationship on an equal footing in civic society.”
Lord Glenarthur: “I fear for the future of family life if this Bill is passed.”
Lord Eden: “This bill… is damaging, divisive and destructive.”
Baroness Thornton: “It is the personal testimonies, not just of those lords who faced discrimination… but all of those who have spoken of the love and strength they have found through their partners, civil partners, husbands and wives to secure our resolve.”

Making a Stand for Marriage Equality: An Open Letter to Mr and Mrs Curnow, who delivered a petition to Downing Street AGAINST marriage equality

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Curnow,
Please accept my warmest congratulations on your recent marriage. I can only imagine the joy you both are feeling right now, knowing that you have made such a significant and universally recognised commitment to the person you have chosen to spend the rest of your life with. If things remain as they currently are in the United Kingdom, I will only ever be able to imagine that feeling. You see, I am a lesbian and am therefore not legally permitted to marry the person I choose to spend my life with. I presume you must be very busy at the moment, enjoying the honeymoon period of your married life, but I hope you are willing to take few minutes to try and understand why I find it very upsetting, confusing and frustrating that you both were allowed to marry the person you chose, but I cannot.
I’m really just a regular person; I have family and friends who I love, a good job that I really enjoy and a nice, comfortable home. Sound familiar? I hope so, because I have a wonderful life and appreciate every single day how lucky I am. I have a brother who is two years older than me. When we were little we fought like cat and dog but, at the same time, we would defend one another with our lives if anyone else tried to hurt the other.
Growing up, our parents always treated us equally; no favouritism, no stereotypes, just love. Since I could walk, all I ever wanted was to have a ball at my feet. My brother was quieter than me but in time developed confidence as he started to write and perform music. We were always encouraged to follow our dreams and passions and were told that nothing was beyond our capabilities if we gave it our all.
Our parents also imparted in us a keen sense of justice; of right and wrong. When asked what she wanted for our futures, our mum would simply answer that she hoped we would both be “happy, healthy and well-adjusted.” Now that we are a bit older and hopefully a bit wiser, my brother is my best friend. And, in somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy, we are both all of those things our mother wished. Yet in the eyes of the law we are not equal.

My brother and I have always been quite similar; we both love music, we both like Chinese food and we are both attracted to women. The fact that he is male means that, when the time comes, he can marry the woman of his dreams. The fact that I am female means that I cannot. As someone who was brought up by a family who surrounded me with the values of love, justice and equality, that really hurts. I cannot wait for the day to come when my brother marries the woman he decides to spend the rest of his life with and am sure that he would equally love to see me marry the person I choose; but at the current time, only one of us has that right.

I understand that you recently delivered a petition to 10 Downing Street that held the signatures of 500,000 people, on behalf of The Coalition for Marriage who believe that marriage should remain as only existing between one man and one woman. I watched with great sadness as a beautiful bride and handsome groom, who have recently embarked on the journey of married life together, chose to spend what is surely one of the happiest times of their lives delivering a petition that is ultimately designed to deny that right and that happiness to others.
I have read and listened to many arguments from those opposing equal marriage and, please believe me when I say, I respect each and every one of their opinions. With the same respect, however, I wholeheartedly and passionately disagree.

Dr Don Horrocks from The Coalition for Marriage has aired many opinions regarding same-sex marriage over the years; some of which reference polygamy and horses (but that’s another letter for another day). The issues I want to raise are with regard to the comments made by Dr Horrocks inThe Coalition of Marriage’s video posted on their YouTube account which shows you both delivering that petition to Downing Street.

In this video, Dr Horrocks said that same-sex marriage will alter the meaning of marriage. It is my belief that the meaning of marriage and what it represents will not change. The only thing that will change is that more people will be able to enter into it. With marriage being such an important institution in this country, as is being argued by The Coalition for Marriage, surely more people entering into it will only strengthen it rather than weaken it; another argument he put forward.
The other view Dr Horrocks expressed that I would like to address is that legalising same-sex marriage would result in marriage and family becoming a historical memory. Again, much to my frustration, this opinion was expressed without any justification or context.
Families in the UK come in many colours, shapes and sizes. One definition of family is “a social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered as a group, whether dwelling together or not.” I’m sure you will agree that a single-parent and their child or children is no less a family than one with both a mother and a father (or two parents of the same sex for that matter). It is estimated that there are around 2 million single parents living in the UK; the majority of whom I am sure are raising children who are happy and thriving.
For me, a family is a group of people, usually but not always related by blood, who give each other a sense of belonging, safety and love. The funny thing about arguing that same-sex couples will damage the lives of the children they raise is that never once has a same-sex couple conceived a child by accident. Every single gay and lesbian couple who decided to have a child together must plan for it, often in great detail; whether this is a lesbian couple who need to find a sperm donor, a gay couple who must find a surrogate mother or either of these looking to go through the lengthy and often difficult process of adoption. Every single child brought into the home of a gay or lesbian couple is wanted.
I understand that your unwillingness to support same-sex marriage may stem from your opinion that the concept is in conflict with your personal religious beliefs. I respect everyone’s right to uphold any religious views they wish, however, I cannot respect that those views should be allowed to prevent others of different or no faith to be united in marriage.
The Government’s equal marriage consultation explicitly states that, if passed in law, same-sex marriage would have to be conducted in a civil setting with no religious content. It has been argued by religious leaders that this would be open to challenge on a human rights basis, however, it is my personal view that once the equal-marriage legislation is passed, whether that is sooner or later, the best possible scenario for all would be that those faith groups who support equal marriage should be permitted to conduct ceremonies, whilst those who oppose it should have their rights to do so upheld in law.
I have heard it argued that since same-sex couples are able to enter into Civil Partnerships that there is no need to allow them to marry. There is no doubt that when Civil Partnerships were introduced in the UK in 2004 they signified a massive leap forward towards equality for LGBT people. However, I and many others feel that these are almost a second-class option. The fact that we can have legal entitlements as a couple is wonderful, but in the eyes of society it is not equal – it is not a marriage.
Imagine taking your partner to a party and being unable to truly introduce them as your husband or wife. “This is my Civil Partner” doesn’t quite have the same ring, does it? It sounds almost clinical and it certainly is not equal. Mrs Curnow, I presume from your visit to Downing Street that you are interested in politics; do you think that when most women over 30 won the right to vote in the UK in 1918 that they should just have smiled, said “thank you” and accepted it? Or do you think they were right to continue to fight for equality until 1928 when all women finally gained the same voting rights as men? This could not have been achieved without their male allies and LGBT people cannot achieve true equality without the support of our straight allies.
As a newly married couple, I presume that you will be considering starting a family one day. Please take a moment to think how you would feel if your child told you that they were lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Believe me when I tell you that, despite having the most supportive family I could wish for, that was the single most difficult conversation of my life. Would you love your child any less? Would you want them to have equal rights to their straight brother or sister?
I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this letter and I urge you to think seriously about why you felt so strongly about denying same-sex couples the right to marry that you deemed it appropriate to dress up in wedding attire and hand-deliver that petition to 10 Downing Street earlier this week. I would love to know your thoughts on why you believe your own right to marry the person you love is greater and any more legitimate than mine.
In the meantime, I wish you both all the best in your married life together. I am sure you will experience your share of ups and downs, but I think this quotation I recently read sums it up: “if you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” Whilst we appear to be travelling on different paths in our lives, I wholeheartedly hope that one day I too will be legally entitled to embark upon the same journey of married life that you both have just begun, with the person I choose.
Julie Price

Note: The original news report of the Curnow’s visit to Downing street can be found HERE.
Update: THIS article in The Telegraph documents the many disgruntled messages the couple have since received.

Following this letter The L Project has decided to write a counter-petition, more details HERE.

MUST SEE: “8”: A Play about the Fight for Marriage Equality

Featuring an all-star cast including George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Martin Sheen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jane Lynch, Kevin Bacon and others, “8” is a play written by Academy Award winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black and directed by acclaimed actor and director Rob Reiner. It is a powerful account of the case filed by the American Federation for Equal Rights (AFER) in the U.S. District Court in 2010 to overturn Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that eliminated the rights of same-sex couples to marry in the state of California. Framed around the trial’s historic closing arguments in June 2010, 8 provides an intimate look what unfolded when the issue of same-sex marriage was on trial.