In the shade of a mighty Oklahoma oak tree, your friend and humble narrator (that is droogie) was applying a weed and feed solution to his struggling front-yard grass. It is an uphill battle I am fighting, my friends, but I hope one day that my grass would spring forth with greenish splendor, sending my neighbors reeling with commandment-breaking envy and covetousness.
Peering across cul-de-sackistan, I made out the suit-and-tied figures of two youngish Latter-Day Sainters, on their bikes. They were speaking with my neighbor, a victim of our modern age, having been laid off from his job not a month ago. My goodhearted wife, with whom I have shared 5 years of marriage next month, is doing a bit of networking for him.
Inwardly I hoped that there would be no confrontation. I secretly wished to be left alone with my water hose and my grass-stained shoes and my dirty clothes, to water and fertilize my patch of earth -- but these being Mormon missionaries, you see, my hoping was in vain.
"Are you gentlemen from the church up the way?" I said to the pair, as they walked their bikes to my curb to speak with me.
"Absolutely we are," they said, with a genuine-seeming smile that still seemed well rehearsed. One was a little round and the other thin, like me. He could have easily been me, I thought, as I too was raised a Christian fundamentalist, albeit of a decidedly non-LDS stripe.
They asked about my yard work.
"Yeah, it's an uphill battle," I said with a determined Okie grin. "Might not see any real success for years, but I'm willing to put in the fight."
They got to the point, asking if I would pay their church a visit. It was within walking distance to my house, after all.
"I can't do that," I said. "I'm sure you're both fine people, but I can't give any kind of support to a church that actively resists marriage equality in places like California."
This was not on their list of commonly-heard replies that you, the Mormon missionary, might want to keep a rejoinder handy for. Indeed, this confrontation was unlikely to happen in the Buckle of the So-Called Bible Belt, just a 30 minute drive from where a 900-foot-tall Jesus Christ reportedly told Oral Roberts to build a giant skyscraper. We were speaking in the reddest of red lands, where McCain-Palin stickers still deface many a lamppost.
"I'm actually from California," the thin one said, hoping to change the subject. "He's from Nevada."
"Oh, Nevada. The wife and I will be going to Las Vegas next month to celebrate our fifth year of marriage," I said, not wanting to change the subject, now that the topic had been broached. "We've been married five years, and we have a one year old son. And we're disturbed that more people can't enjoy the same life that we do if they wish, since they can't get married."
"You're talking about gay marriage?" the round one asked, double-checking to see whether I wasn't perhaps referring somehow to their church's own historical problems with the definition of marriage.
"Yes, I am," I said, trying to prevent the hose from spraying on their sensible-yet-dressy shoes. "You see, I know you're not responsible for it, regardless of your own beliefs. But your church has opposed equal rights, and I feel like I owe you a little honesty so you don't have to stand here in the heat wasting your time."
"I do like honest people," the round one said. "I do like honest people."
The thin one went on with some church boilerplate about the word of God and to be honest I picked up none of it. I mean no disrespect, but I was raised Baptist and when someone starts in on quoting Bible verses to me, my eyes roll into the back of my head and I forget my name for a few seconds.
"Hey, listen, I'm sorry to preach to you guys like this. It's pretty funny, me preaching to you," I said, to their laughter. "It's just that this is the way I feel about it. We're going to have marriage equality in this country from coast to coast one day. It's a matter of time only, and I choose not to affiliate myself with those who've got a problem with that."
The conversation ended pretty soon after that. I went back into the house to enjoy two things: the company of my legally married spouse, which American GLBTs can't do most places, and the company of a delicious ice-cold lager, which I understand Mormons can't enjoy.
Things like this happen for a reason. I knew this confrontation didn't happen by chance. I knew this ruling was coming, and I had a feeling it wouldn't go favorably. I knew the little chat with the LDS bike people was meant to steel me for even more fighting. An even longer slog.
I wanted to tell those of you who are angry right now, who feel disillusioned that excuses are being made for inequality, that you are not alone. Not by a longshot.
You have allies, and we are all over the place. In Oklahoma, in Iowa, in Florida, in Montana, and even in California. Many of us are boring, suit-and-tie, married-for-five-years, diaper-changing straight guys like myself.
This thing is going to happen. And we're going to make it happen. The dirty fucking hippies, the button-down pragmatists, the rich and powerful, the unwashed and powerless. Through the force of our collective will, and our ability to focus it to goal after goal, we will succeed.
The brilliance of this great land is that equality does succeed. Our history shows it again and again.
I don't know if I'll ever get the green, weedless yard of my dreams before I keel over and die upon it, but I'll keep working on it. Feeding, pulling, watering. And you do the same in your own lawns. Fight the same battles in your homes, workplaces and sidewalks. We will succeed.