Um… so to speak.
No, I am not gay. Nor am I bi. Not that there is anything wrong with that.
I am a conservative who has decided to speak up for legally recognizing the union of same-sex partners.
There, I have said it.
I blame the inspiration for this declaration on the incredible feature story on the death of Sandy Rogers that appeared in the Sunday (1-27-2013) edition of the daily. Written by reporter Steve Crawford, I could attempt to describe the piece, but go online and read it for yourself. If you come away from the experience with anything less than a frog in your throat, I would suggest you see a wizard about getting a new heart.
Rogers was one of three local law enforcement officers violently killed in the line of duty, in three separate attacks, during a three-month stretch last year. If you love a police officer, or know someone who does, that may have been the most surreal season of loss you have ever been through. Most folks in my generation have not lost a peer to a military conflict. Some have, but most have not. But the three officers we lost last year, Rogers, her fellow Aiken Department of Public Safety Officer Scotty Richardson, and Richmond County Sheriff’s Deputy J.D. Paugh, were so well liked and so well known in the community that it was as if we had all lost members of our family.
Crawford’s article focused on Rogers’ surviving spouse, Frances Williams. No big surprise there, everyone who really knew Sandy Rogers knew very well that she had a significant other, a soulmate she had claimed for her own for the last 27 years. That Sandy and Frances were both women is perhaps a fact that I need to specifically state right here. (It occurs to me that I know men in Augusta who are named Sandy and Frances. Several of each, in fact.)
That the late Sandy Rogers and her spouse, Frances Williams (an officer with the USC-A Campus Police), chose to protect and serve local residents was a blessing for us. That they chose to do that in the state of South Carolina has ended up not working out so well for them.
Master Corporal Rogers was murdered by an animal, just a few minutes removed from killing his own girlfriend and yet unborn child. I hope to soon see the day when I can write about the state’s execution of that mad dog. Justice would certainly be served if that day comes to pass. Unfortunately, the injustice done to the late officer and the love of her life by the State of South Carolina is likely to live on.
They would have married long ago if they could, but the same state that both women swore to protect and serve, even at the cost of their own life if need be, says no to that.
They were together as a committed couple 27 years. That is longer than my own parents were married. It is longer than my wife’s parents were married. It is longer than the combined total of my two failed marriages and my one successful marriage.
It was longer than Prince Charles and Princess Diana were married, JFK and Jackie, Ashton and Demi, Arnold and Maria, or Sonny and Cher. They were together longer than Bonnie and Clyde, Martin and Lewis, Peaches and Herb, or Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Green Jeans.
To be fair, Hall and Oates, David Letterman and Paul Shaeffer, and the Captain and Tennille do have them beat. But they are in the minority.
The above listed partnerships perhaps give you a tad bit of historical perspective, lighthearted but solid proof positive that Rogers and Williams were real. As was their commitment to each other. As was their love.
But not officially. Not in the state of South Carolina.
Religious folks say that the word “marriage” refers to a divine decree. A blessing that only comes from the one true God above. Whatever God you happen to believe in, of course.
Well, here is what I say: If the fundamentalist religious right can happily (or at least quietly) allow Jews, Hindus, Buddists, Atheists, Scientologists, Sikhs, Wiccans and Satan Worshippers to be “married” under law, why can’t they allow same-sex couples to be granted the same legal rights when they declare themselves committed in a civil union?
How odd is it that under American law your friendly neighborhood Satan worshipping cult and the Holy Church of the Latex Obsessed can be granted property tax exemptions and wage protections for their paid clergy, yet we get stingy when it comes to granting same-sex couples the same rights as heteros married under the most asinine flags that freaks can fly?
That Sandy Rogers died upholding these laws is ironic. That we continue to abide a status quo that refuses to allow two adults who love each other the civil benefits of a recognized union is downright criminal.
I am a conservative, and it is all I can do to fight for gun rights, tougher punishment for violent criminals and the elimination of a gratuitous welfare state.
As soon as we let all the smart gay folks have their civil unions, we can expect them to join us in the fight for the important things I listed above. If we truly respect individual rights as conservatives, then we need to get the hell out of their way.
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