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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.

Ever been to Austin? If you have, you’ll recognize the title of this post, Keep Paganism Weird, as a variation of the city’s popular catch phrase. Plastered on buildings and bumper stickers is a reminder that Austin has a history of wild, weird culture, and that it’s important that the young’ins continue the cultural tradition into the future.

On my last night in South San Francisco, we were visited at our hotel by the fabulous, beautifully painted, perfectly pickled one, Titania Humperpickle. She is one of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Witness her loveliness:

Sister Titania (pronounced with a soft “i,” as in tits, and a soft “a,” as in tah-tahs) identifies as a Pagan (it’s a big enough umbrella for her), but the Order isn’t rooted in one religious tradition. Anyone with a calling to slap on some heels, get painted, dress up in nun attire in order to do service workany kind of service work, mind you can become a Sister (after a long vetting process, of course).

I sat on the floor in the presence of a white-faced, platform-shoed nun, totally in awe. She brought with her a vial of Holy Glitter, which is glitter mixed with — I kid you not — the ashes of former Sisters, the ashes of some of the Order’s most cherished relics, and a few other delightfully magical things. She made a little bindi-esque dot of glitter on our foreheads as a sisterly blessings (see photo below). She told stories of the Order’s origin, of the stuggles of LGBT people over the years, and of the inspiring work being done by Sisters across the globe.

By the time she left, we were all grinning ear to ear. It was really wonderful.

The Sisters embody a kind of theatricality that I find completely refreshing. They take their work seriously, and they are intentional about their presentation (the white-face, itself, has a story), but they also bring with them a kind of whimsy that, honestly, you don’t see in every corner of the gay community.

Personally, I think we gays need to embrace the radically expressive elements of our community. We don’t all need need to be Martha Steward devotees in order to be gay. Gay can be more mismatched and fabulous than that. Gay can be weird, and sometimes it should be.

When I wrote the piece Pagan Is The New Gay, I looked at parallels in the how Pagans and LGBT’s (i.e The Alphabet People) struggle over their titles and categories. Perhaps there’s cause to search out parallels again.

The Sisters keep it weird. They challenge social norms, and they force us to reexamine what we assume about gender, about service, and about how presentation of persona is something that, to a greater or lesser degree, we all do. They are radical, and by being radical they make possible the space for something extraordinary to occur.

They are a shimmering ritual on heels.

Her heels are green and powerful, I promise.

Can we take cue from the Sisters in the Pagan community? Do we (do you? do I?) permit ourselves to be extravagant, weird, or over the top in our presentation, or would doing so feel like too big a risk?

LGBT people have worked so hard over the past ten, twenty years to be accepted by the mainstream culture, and in the process many have forgotten that it was a drag queen that threw the first brick at Stonewall. Is a similar thing happening with modern Pagans? Are we pulling back from the weird?

This morning I head to Denver’s Pagan Pride festival, and I have no sense of how weird or how tame it will be. I’ll be sure to report next week. But in the meantime, I ask you:

Do you want to keep Paganism weird?

[After you post your comment & share this post, visit the new BITG feature, Letters. Then, check out the BITG post written last year about another Sister of Perpetual Indulgence, The Day The Heathens Built A Chapel.]