When Prop 8 was passed last November, my four kids (ranging in age from 8 to 17) were stunned. They knew about the proposition, but had assumed it would easily be voted down, since they didn't see how anyone could have a problem with two people in love wanting to get married. They just didn't get it.
Now that the Prop 8 battle is front page news again, I've been wishing I could make everyone see the issue the way my kids do. So I have an idea.
Let's all sit down and play a board game together.
See, years ago, my nephew Rudy did this really cool thing. He and my sister were playing the Game of Life together and when he landed on the "get married" square, he plucked out a blue peg instead of a pink one and put it next to the blue driver peg in his little plastic car. He was pretty young--maybe five or six--and just wanted to change things around a bit. And he didn't see any reason not to.
After my sister mentioned this, the next time I played the Game of Life with my kids, I casually said, "I'm going to marry a woman this time," and put a pink peg next to mine. The kids paused. "Really?" they said. Then they shrugged. And then one of them decided also to marry a "same sex" peg.
From then on, whenever we played the game, we'd mix it up. Most often it was still a blue and a pink peg in the front of the car, but sometimes two blues would marry and have a family, sometimes two pinks. It didn't change the way we played the game. It just changed the look of the little plastic cars. But in its own quiet, mellow way, it gently altered my kids' assumptions about how things are "supposed" to be.
Is this really so terrifying?
So, as the battle over Prop 8 continues to rage, I think we should invite everyone who's in favor of banning gay marriage to a big ole Game of Life tournament. The first time someone puts a blue peg next to a blue peg, they'll probably object, say that's not how the game is played, accuse us of breaking the rules, maybe even turn nasty. But if we just point out it doesn't change anything for them, that we're not forcing THEM to have two blue or pink pegs in their front seats, that their odds of spinning a 10 or hitting a Pay Day aren't altered by what color pegs someone else is using--maybe they'll calm down and keep playing.
And maybe after a while, they'll stop even noticing the colors of the pegs, and focus on playing the game. Maybe they'll just let us drive our little plastic cars through our career choices and baby births and lay-offs and tax return days and into our golden retirement years with our little peg families made out of any colors we want.
Maybe it will gradually sink in that, whatever the color of our peg companions, we're all dealing with the same stuff: taking care of our kids, dealing with aging and dying parents, trying to make ends meet while saving for the future, finding time to relax with friends, balancing professional ambition with family life, and so on.
You know, all that life stuff, with a lowercase "l."
I was enchanted by this essay when I read it on Claire's blog and asked her if she would update it and present it here as a guest post. I'm so glad she agreed! Remember that awesome rainbow jello mold? Claire made that. Oh, and she's also one of the two engines behind Bookstore People, a blogsite that's all about (and reviews) independent bookstores. How cool is that? How cool is she? Doesn't it make you want to run out and play that Game of Life?