Prop 8 as Seen from Blueberry Ridge

wild blueberries


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

0 thoughts on “Prop 8 as Seen from Blueberry Ridge

  1. This beautiful column shows how none of us are free when any group is denied their basic rights. This world has so much cruelty and injustice that I would think that any form love takes would be cherished and respected. We need to hold love in awe rather than say that a certain form, such as gay marriage is less valid than another. Thanks, Andrea for another beautiful column.


  2. Blueberries!!! Closest I get to fresh blueberries in L.A. are the ones in the little, green plastice baskets in the produce section of the market, and they certainly aren’t free for the picking!
    Hi Andrea,
    Your thoughts on marriage are echoed by a same-sex couple in West Hollywood in an article published in this week’s L.A. Weekly:
    In the article is the following quote:
    “It’s not something I’m passionate about,” says Garcia, of Hollywood, who grew up in the Bay Area. “I’m not really looking to get married, and it’s just a certificate — I don’t need a piece of paper to tell me I’m married. But I do understand there’s a larger principle. The whole thing is about equality, and [Prop. 8] is unconstitutional.”
    In most cases, the decision to marry should be considered for much more than romantic considerations to avoid potentially nasty surprises later on. All states have different marriage laws that define marriage obligations. People who are planning to get married should at least become familiar with what in means to be married in the specific state where they will be married.
    My partner and I moved in together in our forties without marrying. We each have our own financial assets, and have kept them separate throughout. One of the reasons (I have many) that we didn’t marry is that, when I was a volunteer ombudsman at a skilled nursing facilty, I had cases where a person became incapacitated, and rather quickly, expenses to maintain that person in a SNF would drain the assets of both that person, as well as the person to whom they were married. I have a provision in my Power of Attorney for Healthcare to the effect that if I’m unable to make my own healthcare decisions, I prefer that the person with Power of Attorney directs medical providers with merciful intention to administer medication to painlessly and expediently induce my death if I’m in a persistent, irreversible coma or vegetative state or if I’m terminally ill and treatment only prolongs the moment of my demise, or for purposes of relief from suffering or quality of life. However, California physicians most likely would not respect that wish, and at best, I’d be allowed to drift away, how ever long that may take and at whatever expense. Until this problem is remedied, I wouldn’t consider getting married. I could move to Oregon or Washington where there are assisted suicide provisions, but it’s foggy and cold for a big chunk of the year — don’t know if I could tolerate that!
    People who believe that marriage should only be for a man and a woman have an easy fix for this, if they weren’t so intent on harrassing people in same-sex relationships. “Marriage” becomes exclusively a cultural/religious union. I.e. a person gets “married” in their church, synagogue or whatever. Goverments, on the other hand, only recognize domestic partnerships as a legal entity. Problem solved — Separation of church and state — What a concept!


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