Our friends are constantly giving us grief. Why, oh why, they ask would we ever live in Virginia when we have Maryland and the District of Columbia at our fingertips? Don’t we know what a horrible, discriminatory red state we live in? Why would we choose to live somewhere where our relationship is not recognized and our joint household might be more prone to be challenged than in other nearby states?
Because we like it here is why.
With a few small exceptions.
As I’m sure many of you can agree, matters like this are never so simple. My partner and I are not black and white thinkers. We have pulled together what legal paperwork we can to protect our wishes and financial interests, but we otherwise remain firmly planted and further committed to living where we live: in a wonderful neighborhood — our own living urban village — with great neighbors, an easy walk to our favorite stores and restaurants, and access to major thoroughfares and the Metro. And, we are only 2 miles from DC. When you live in the Northern Virginia bubble with gay neighbors and a gay councilman on hand, what’s not to love?
I concede that it is not an easy picture, but it sure doesn’t sound to me like moving across the river would suddenly solve our problems. That’s, of course, easy to say because my partner and I have supportive families, are financially secure, and don’t have any intense health conditions which threaten our comfort. We would love nothing more than to find some legal recognition and protection for our relationship (which I believe we are due as tax-paying Americans), but, unless we move to Massachusetts, Connecticut or Vermont or migrate to Canada, isn’t it only a small degree of difference?
Should our circumstances change (having a kid, needing hospital care, etc.), it would seem reasonable to consider a move like this. Take, for example, Tibby & Barbara, two lesbians more senior than I, who have made the difficult choice to move from VA to MD to better protect their relationship. These brave gals were featured in this past Sunday’s Washington Post Magazine. I found it quite easy to relate to their story, relative to finding comfort in one’s own community — even if the bigger legal picture is more bleak — and do not envy the difficulty they are surely facing in finding their way in a new community. I applaud them for their courage and wish that stories like this did not occur so frequently.
The part of the article which, I thought, said so much was the introduction of the bank teller from Tibby & Barbara’s VA town, Fredericksburg. Her story seemed to capture the sentiment with which so many people (read: average Americans) can identify: yes, I am personally affected by this, but I’m really uncomfortable with being “political” and asking for and/or experiencing change. Here’s how the author, Michelle Boorstein, so beautifully put it:
Fran Farmer lives in that gray area, too. She’s Barbara and Tibby’s favorite clerk at Union Bank & Trust. Farmer hugged them when she heard they were moving and urged them to keep an apartment here. The women are a part of her daily life, she says, and she felt “very, very sorry it’s come to this.” But she wasn’t sure she opposed the new law.
“I can’t get into the rules and regulations, and I’d rather not comment on that. It’s very complex,” says Farmer, 58, who grew up in Fredericksburg. Asked how she balances her affection for the women with her feelings about gay marriage, she says: “I don’t know how to answer that. I just know I didn’t want them to move. I don’t like change much.”
It seems that this is the key, isn’t it?
Finding our collective way out of the comfort of a messy status quo on behalf of a minority group of our citizens and understanding that welcoming more love and taking a strong national stand for healthy and loving committed relationships between two people (regardless of sexual orientation) offers a much stronger stance toward preserving marriage than legislating hateful attitudes does.
Thanks to OnlineStores.com for the Commonwealth flag image