If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

13 August 2005

The buddy system

A few nights ago, I sat next to a guy I call 'Tearjerker' (long story) at dinner. By way of context, Tearjerker lives in the midwest, is a married catholic 40-something man with 5 (count 'em - 5! - children.) We met many years ago through work. While initially he seemed a bit aloof; as I've gotten to know him, I have come to admire, and even perhaps adore him a bit for being a straight-shooter, honest and genuine, with almost a bottomless sense of giving and selflessness. However, he is also ultimately process driven and a clear thinker, able to cut through emotion and bullshit to figure out what matters. This is a guy I admire.

And - perhaps unfairly - I presumed that we probably wouldn't share many political or social views. I didn't KNOW this for a fact, but I had assumed that he might have had a Bush/Cheney bumpersticker on his giant SUV. (Not that there's anything WRONG with that!) He is also an active fundraiser for his kids' catholic school. I assume he (or his wife is) a pretty regular church-goer.

This is not uncommon; I work with a number of people who live in - and indeed probably actively contribute to the 'redness' of - the Red States. For many people, that would be a deal killer. Thanks to the the political science student in me, I am honest about the realities of politics and am indeed on the 'fence' about so many things about BOTH political parties that ... well, it really comes down to the individual people and the individual issues. I have a hard time identifying a doctrine that applies neatly to all my beliefs. Believe me, I know a lot of people who voted for John Kerry that I wouldn't invite to my house (or indeed want to be stuck at a cocktail party with for more than 90 seconds...), though admittedly there are a few more in the Bush camp.

But back to Tearjerker. Without going through all the details, we ended up in a conversation about gay marriage. And he - in no uncertain terms - told me that he was totally in support of it. From a governmental perspective.

Now without waxing tooooo nostalgic, he belongs to the Republican party that, sadly, is no longer. The Republican party of my parents: less government intervention in people's lives! He went on to clarify that he thinks marriage is a religious and/or moral issue, and the government shouldn't have any part of it. For government purposes, he supports a concept that he described simply as 'the buddy system.' And the more he talked about it, the more I loved it.

Simply put, every'body' has the right to a buddy (just one.) It's a formal system. Benefits (health, tax, etc etc.) You file paperwork to identify your buddy. You have to jump through legal hoops to change your buddy. It could be a wife/husband, partner, sister, mother, guy you know from work, whatever.

The more he talked, the more I loved it. I have a number of friends who wonder what reason there is to get married if it isn't to have kids. Some in their 50's and over who are fiscally stable in their own right, but want to have health decision privileges or survivorship benefits or insurance or tax breaks.

The Buddy System. Hmmmmmm. What I like about it is that it would apply to everyone. I'm all for whatever system there is being applied EQUALLY. I have friends who advocate gay marriage to which my response is often something along the lines of "oh, heavens, wouldn't it just be better to take it AWAY from the straight people?!?! Statistically speaking, we've kind of fucked it up, don't you think?"

I feel about gay marriage the way I do about abortions or religious beliefs: don't want one? Don't have one. But don't judge or presume to walk in the shoes of those who do. It's a question of rights and equality, and simply being human. I still cannot fathom how a gay marriage would THREATEN a straight marriage (well, unless of course your husband is actually gay... which does happen, sadly. As society learns to accept people for who they are, and we all learn to let people BE who they are, this will happen less frequently... but, again - I digress)

The buddy system. I like it. And I liked even more being surprised by someone.


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