By Andrea Scarpino
US District Judge Vaughn Walker has ruled unconstitutional California’s Proposition 8 that denied marriage to same-sex couples. In his ruling, Judge Walker wrote, Indeed the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
Last weekend, Zac and I picked blueberries in Marquette along a trail called Blueberry Ridge. When we left the house, we didn’t know where we were going; people kept telling us it was a great year for wild blueberries but weren’t specific about where to pick them. So we started driving. We pulled off of the highway a couple of times to look along the side of the road before we came upon a sign for Blueberry Ridge. If any place was going to have good berries, that seemed like it. So we pulled into the trail parking lot, jumped out of the car, and started picking. In the parking lot. Eventually, a fellow blueberry picker came out of the woods and led us to a better place, and there we wandered for over an hour, bending into the low bushes, delighting when we found a hot spot with dozens of berry bundles clumped together.
When a log presented itself, we sat on it. When the mosquitoes started attacking, we paused to apply bug spray. And we came home with container after container of wild blueberries. Some we immediately made into celebratory cocktails, but the majority we froze to eat throughout the winter.
Zac and I are not married—for political reasons I say when someone asks. Neither of us believes we should marry when everyone in this country isn’t allowed the same. Even though Judge Walker provided a giant step forward in this country’s fight for marriage equality, larger legal battles are brewing. I am optimistic that gay marriage will be legalized in my lifetime, but I am not optimistic enough to believe that this ruling signals a definitive change. And even when marriage is legalized for everyone—even those who don’t identify themselves as gay or straight—then will Zac and I marry?
One definition in the Oxford English Dictionary of to marry is to handcuff together. Another is, (of whisky, wine, etc.) to age or mature. And finally, my favorite: Naut. To splice (two ropes) together without any resulting increase in girth; to bring together (two ropes) so that they can be hauled together equally.
The truth is, blueberry picking is laborious and uncomfortable. Blueberries grow close to the ground and picking them involves a lot of bending over, trying to find the right way to stand as you reach through the underbrush. By the time we left Blueberry Ridge, my back and neck were sore, my fingers stained blue. But together, Zac and I had picked hundreds of berries. I support a legalizing of marriage for everyone, no matter what. But I also think that loving another person should be more like blueberry picking and less a handcuff together. More like fresh air and dirt trails. More like hauling together equally.
Poet and essayist Andrea Scarpino is a frequent contributor to POTB. You can visit her at www.andreascarpino.com