Hello, Brian, Maggie, Louie, and the rest of the NOM crew!
I want to thank you for dropping by. Really. I mean it. I know you read this blog. Let's face it - y'all aren't stupid and must do at least as much research on our side as we do on yours. At the very least I hope you've been entertained by what you've read here; despite our differing political opinions I like to know that everybody's having a good time. (Call it "Hoosier Hospitality.") I know I've been enjoying watching your tour unfold over the past few months, and I figured I'd try to give you a chance to explain yourself further.
Look, I'm gonna be real frank when I say I want to understand your position better. That's politics, right? Coming to an understanding, finding compromise, exploring issues, all that stuff. My only problem right now is this: I don't understand the details of your side's position on marriage.
Please don't take that as an insult, and don't downplay my confusion: I know you hold up "one man, one woman" bonds as super-special and keen and all that, but you haven't been entirely forthcoming and clear on the how for all this.
So here's my deal: I'm going to put up a few clarification questions here, à la Amazon's "Mechanical Turk" engine, and open the floor to answers from your organization. Answer the entire set of questions openly, honestly, completely and truthfully and I'll donate to NOM. Seriously. I'll even make a spectacle of the donation right here on Bilerico! (And none of this "I'm the PR Handler from NOM" stuff, either: I'd like to hear from one of your leading figures, or no soup for you.) Sounds simple and fair, right?
And hey, you've already been answering questions for free. Why not get paid to do it?
The theme of the questions is this: I don't know what you think is "straight" for people like me. Here are the questions:
"Opposite Sex," explained
Your website strongly emphasizes the need for special legal recognition of the union of a man and a woman. And, according to the court decisions found in Loving v. Virginia, people have fundamental right to marry -- which, according to your organization, only counts for opposite-sex couples.
Fair enough for a position statement, I say, but it begs the question: who should I marry? Ohio, Kansas, and Texas (until 2009, though the details are still shaky) say that I should marry a woman, but California says I should marry a man - even post Prop 8! Most states don't even define trans issues in their case law and don't really offer any guidance to trans people as to which gender is seen as "opposite" in their state.
I understand the importance you place upon states' rights to define this, but as an organization I'd like to hear your opinion on the matter. Your organization is, after all, the leading defender of marriage in this country! Who is right: Ohio, in that trans women should marry women and trans men should marry men; or California, in that trans women should marry men and trans men marry women?
Going further - when does a marriage become illegal?
Let's continue drilling down on what is and is not a same-sex marriage, shall we?
Consider a couple living in a state where same-sex marriage is illegal. This couple consists of one man, one woman, as per the letter of the state law. Say that one member of the couple transitions to the opposite sex, complete with documentation saying that the marriage is now between two women or two men. The courts presently say this marriage stands as legal! Should this marriage be dissolved as a same-sex marriage?
Furthermore, at what point (if any) does a trans person "switch sides" as far as opposite-sex marriage partners are concerned? When they look like the opposite sex? When their state ID changes? When their federal ID changes? When their birth certificate changes? Again, states have the right to decide this on their own, but I'm really curious to hear your opinion on the issue. It matters quite a bit to people who are in the middle, such that they can have the option of glorifying the "sanctity of marriage" you tout so highly.
Current Events and GOP Goings-On
Since we're on the topic of states and politics, please comment briefly on the recent rise of "natural" man/"natural" woman marriage statements on state GOP platforms. Do you support this linguistic shift, and if so, does this mean that trans people are not deserving of the right to have their nuptials legally recognized?
With that said, if I cannot change my sex as far as "'natural' man/woman marriage" is concerned, will you fight for my right to marry a partner of the same gender? (Say, a trans woman marrying another woman.) How about intersex people, who display characteristics of both genders due to their genetic code? Will you fight for their right to be recognized and married?
Specifics: Marriage and the Courts
May we have a brief comment on Nikki Arraguz's case? Texas legislature clarified the precedent set by Litton v. Prange in 2009 to include gender change as valid for determining gender in terms of marriage, and by doing so recognized marriages like Nikki's as opposite-sex. Would you lobby for the sanctity of her marriage? If not, why is her nuptial not good enough to be recognized by your group?
Why are you asking these questions, Austen?
Simple: I'm sick and tired of not hearing the answers. This goes for both sides.
The whole point of the marriage issue is to determine who can marry who. There's lots of sparks on the issue, and tons of debate, but through it all trans people are more or less ignored. Even legal counsel has few answers; we are, for all intents and purposes, stuck in a legal limbo. When groups try to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples without defining what opposite-sex entails, it causes irreparable damage to my rights to marry.
For example, if enter a marriage in Indiana, the validity of that marriage is a crapshoot. If I marry a female, the marriage could be invalidated because of my female gender identity. If I marry a male, my marriage could be invalidated by Ohio precedent. (Ohio says you can't; sorry about your luck!) And even with legal wills, powers of attorney, and a myriad of other documents to prove that I'm legally the gender I say I am, there is no way to safeguard the sanctity of my marriage - no matter the gender! - in a world with DOMA-inspired same-sex marriage bans.
Yes, transgender persons are a small minority. However, that doesn't mean our rights should (or can!) be ignored for sake of convenience. Decisions made on the marriage battlefront have large implications for transgender people, and I say that if NOM is going to fight for the exclusive rights of opposite-sex couples to get married, they should fight for all opposite-sex couples - that is, once they figure out what opposite sex really means.
Again, thanks for reading. Hopefully we can get this whole mess hashed out sooner rather than later. Best of luck with those tour stops!
P.S. Great turnout in Indiana! You sure do have a spirited support base!