Equality is a Pagan Value

Those who say that equality is not a relevant “Pagan” issue are incorrect.

There is no one for whom equality is not a relevant issue.

Strip the rights of one, and you strip the rights of all. Conversely, uphold the dignity of one, and you uphold the dignity of all.

Today SCOTUS struck down DOMA and Prop 8, and by doing so they allowed us all to take one small step forward in the direction of equal treatment under the law.

The Scale of Things (sunface13 on Flickr)

I heard the news from my husband, which seemed perfectly appropriate. He came into the room and woke me. I’d slept in, tired from a long work trip in LA. He pulled back the blinds and said,

“Good morning, sweetie. We’re recognized by the federal government.”

Sean and I were married in California in 2008 during the brief, pre-Prop 8 window when LGBT couples were allowed to wed. It wasn’t technically a shotgun wedding, but it was close. While we’d been talking about getting married for a good while, we didn’t make our plans official until we learned that California would offer marriage licenses to gay couples from out of state. California was the first state to allow this. We scheduled our time-slot as soon as we could.

Being married, and at the same time not being married has been a strange reality to live with. It’s a discontinuity that most married couples could not conceive of. When I bring it up to straight friends or family members, there’s often an “ah-ha” moment.

I never really thought about what that would be like, is a common response.

Talking about the reality of being a “married but unrecognized” couple has been an important testimony to make for another reason. The political forces which so vehemently appose gay marriage are the same forces who would happily regulate the bedrooms and sexual practices of straight people.

A puritan is a puritan is a puritan. They want to invalidate my relationship just as much as they want to get all up in your uterus.

When I say that this is a small step toward equal treatment under the law, I’m not just talking about us queers here. I’m also talking about moving toward a place of greater gender equality, too. Our society is built within a binary gender paradigm which favors one gender over the other. In many ways, the LGBT rights movement threatens that very paradigm, because jumping on board the gay train requires you to suspend all of your “normal” assumptions about gender roles in relationship. Do that, and you start seeing imbalance and injustice nearly every place you look.

LGBT rights are like a gateway drug in that way. Start supporting the homos, and before long you’ll end up a complete social justice activist.

(I’ve seen it happen.)

It’s good to remind people who may think of LGBT rights as a “fringe issue” that today’s ruling fits into a much larger discussion about personal liberty and equality — two principles which can, with enough political firepower, be jeopardized for even the most mainstream among us. Even hetero-normative folks need to be on the lookout.

But not today. Today is a day worth celebrating. I believe that equality is a Pagan value, and equality was upheld today.

That’s worth at least a cupcake.

I offer my sincere thanks to all of the front-liners; all of the people who stood on corners and got petitions signed; all of the people who sent e-mails and form letters; all of the people who spoke their own, personal truth about living in a queer relationship; and, perhaps most especially, I thank all of the many, many straight people who took up arms in this fight. Straight allies are no joke. They’re the real deal. We need more of them.

I’m going to go on being gay with my husband now, doing gay stuff.

Like picking up some produce.

Going to mom’s house for dinner.

You know…

Gay stuff.



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12 responses to “Equality is a Pagan Value”

  1. Cosette Paneque Avatar

    Well said, Teo. It was a good day for America.

  2. Sandy Avatar

    Teo, I read your blog often and have not commented before. Thanks for this post and for the humor you use to deliver this message (though I have to say, as a woman “all up in your uterus” made me squirm!). Equality IS a Pagan value and its important to realize that sometimes we need to say that explicitly. And you’re absolutely right that the freedom denied to one of us is simply a warning that the same rights (and more) can be denied to all of us if we are not paying attention.

  3. Soliwo Avatar

    I do not belief this is a fringe issue, not at all, but I do sometimes forget its importance. Probably because the Dutch have passed our 10-year anniversary of same-sex marriage two years ago. But! And this is a big but … the struggle for equality is still not over. Gay marriage is not the summon of equality, we must remember that. Kids still say ‘gay’ when they mean stupid, dull or different. And there is even discrimination within the gay community about some gays being to feminine … A lot of people are fine with gay people as long as they do fit in the gender stereotypes. That is simply not good enough.

    This is a small victory.
    But marriage rights are not the end.

  4. Daniel Grey Avatar

    Teo, you are invited to my wedding in half a decade or so. Dress will be nerd casual.

    1. Teo Bishop Avatar

      I’ve got just the outfit.

  5. Margana Avatar

    I want a ‘Equality is a Pagan Value’ bumper sticker! Love it. Congratulations to everyone celebrating today as new start in their lives. Straight, Gay, whatever, all Pagans should be rejoicing.

    1. VoiceOfReason71 Avatar

      Me too! Oh heck, I’ll just make my own!

  6. Mario Pabón Andraca Avatar
    Mario Pabón Andraca

    The Hellenes knew it! Check out the Orphic Hymn:

    The Fumigation from Frankincense.
    O Blessed Equity [Dikaiosune], mankind’s delight, th’ eternal friend of conduct just and right:
    Abundant, venerable, honor’d maid, to judgments pure, dispensing constant aid,
    A stable conscience, and an upright mind; for men unjust, by thee are undermin’d,
    Whose souls perverse thy bondage ne’er desire, but more untam’d decline thy scourges dire:
    Harmonious, friendly power, averse to strife, in peace rejoicing, and a stable life;
    Lovely, loquacious, of a gentle mind, hating excess, to equal deeds inclin’d:
    Wisdom, and virtue of whate’er degree, receive their proper bound alone in thee.
    Hear, Goddess Equity [Dikaiosune], the deeds destroy of evil men, which human life annoy;
    That all may yield to thee of mortal birth, whether supported by the fruits of earth,
    Or in her kindly fertile bosom found, or in the depths of Marine Zeus profound.

  7. Kauko Avatar

    As happy as I am about the SCOTUS decision, as a gay man living in a Southern state where there is still a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, I sometimes get tired of being happy for everyone else about this. It’s been nice to watch state after state turn on this issue, but for those of us living in the most conservative parts of the country marriage equality still feels like it’s something that will never happen.

    1. Daniel Grey Avatar

      Kauko, I empathize completely. I’m a genderqueer lesbian born and raised in Virginia, and while I’ve been ecstatic for my queer siblings in other states, a huge part of me is scared I will never be able to live in my home state or near my family in order to build a home with my wonderful partner. Not to mention I am from a very conservative part of the state, so a ruling for gay marriage would unlikely change te majority opinion of homosexuality in my home town. It is a rough thing to have about your shoulders. I don’t know if it’s any consolation, but there are others who share your burden and are looking for our time for justice, too.

  8. Conor O'Bryan Warren Avatar
    Conor O’Bryan Warren

    I literally wept when I heard the news. Cried and cried and cried.

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