Derby Line Marriage Ch. 13byjtuf©
Benjamin sat across the table from his father in a Harlem diner. They were eating their weekly Sunday lunch. As usual, Benjamin did his best to parley his father's question. He normally kept his cool until the desserts, but this week, Benjamin's frustration started early.
"Your mother and I are getting old. When are you going to give us grandchildren?" his father asked.
"I keep trying, Pops. I breed 2 or 3 men each week, but none of them get pregnant," Benjamin replied.
"Stop using that as an excuse. Fine. You're gay, but do you have to be so reckless? Every weekend you sleep with a new set of strangers. Every Sunday you sleep through services, because you were out late with debauchery the night before. You can barely get yourself out of bed in time for lunch. It's about time you reformed your ways."
"I don't need a sermon."
"If you won't listen to me, then listen to those health centers you guys have. Get one of their pamphlets on risk reduction. They say the same thing I do. Use protection, get tested, limit the number of partners you have. You act as it there's a contest to get as many notches on your headboard as possible. At the rate you're going, I'll be the one to burry you."
"I guess I'm not the type of guy to settle down."
"No man wants to settle down by nature. We were made with wandering eyes, but most men realize their responsibility. At a certain age a man is support to build a home and raise a family. You are too old to be a playboy. Find a nice man, move to Connecticut, get married, and start a family. You can adopt or find a surrogate. There are options. I only want what is best for you."
Benjamin smirked, "That, and grandkids." The father and some finished their omelets and moved on the to the pie.
Benjamin walked back to his office. Even though it was the weekend, he had to check up on some projects. He paused a bit at the front door to consider the sign he had placed on it over a year ago. The sign read "Stop Eminent Domain Abuse". The sign seemed a bit pointless in light of the recent New York State Supreme Court ruling. The judges sided with Columbia University. The expansion plan was a done deal. Soon, Benjamin's office and the other builds in the neighborhood would be knocked now to make more room for Ivy League professors and students to play in. Benjamin left the sign up and entered his office. He hated to admit defeat.
A flag at the bottom of Benjamin's computer screen told him that an email was waiting for him. It was from Isabella. It read:
Hey Benjamin. I got an email from some lady who wants to help us with the marriage equality campaign. I'm forwarding it to you. My plate is a little full. Could you be the liaison to her group?
Hello. My name is Francis O'Connell. I saw you and Benjamin at the Memorial Day dinner to support same-sex marriage. Your contact information was on the pamphlet there. I'm a lawyer with the Montreal Universal Freedom Foundation. MUFF is a nonprofit that ensures equal rights for all. We would be glad to help you if there is anything we can do for you.
Benjamin wrote to Isabella, telling her he would take care of it. Then he wrote to Francis:
Hi Francis. Isabella assigned me as the liaison to MUFF. We appreciate your help on the marriage equality campaign. We tried going through the courts and through the legislature with no success so far. Frankly, the NYS Supreme Court is a bit totalitarian for my tastes. They just gave Columbia University the green light to bulldoze my neighborhood.
Yours in Liberty,
With the politics out of the way, Benjamin got down to work. Mark had hired him to redesign a porn website. The site featured clips from several different porn genres. There were sections on the site for adultery, BDSM, gay, group, interracial, lesbian, May-December relations, solos, and virgins. Each clip could only belong to one section. Benjamin found the classification scheme inadequate. It made it impossible for someone who liked interracial gay porn or BDSM lesbian movies to find them all in one click. He edited the code so that clips could belong to multiple categories at the same time. Then he added another layer of classification. A porn movie, like any art piece, is difficult to pin down with just a few descriptive words. There are too many subtle details that don't lend themselves to key words. However, some people share similar tastes. When a viewer likes the same movie as another person, that viewer will probably like the person's other favorite movies. Benjamin added a tracking agent that would take note each time a viewer gave a movie a high vote. It would then look at the voting record of other people who also liked that movie to suggest more clips the viewer might like.
Another flag at the bottom of Benjamin's screen told him that an email just arrived. It read:
Glad to hear from you, Benjamin. I'll start working on your case this week. My background is Canadian law. I only know the basics of USA law. Please catch me up on the arguments you've used so far to press for same-sex marriage.
Sorry to hear about your neighborhood being destroyed. There is not much hope if the State Supreme Court already sided against you. Perhaps some negative publicity would help Columbia change its mind. I'll run it by a colleague who handles protests and community organizing tomorrow.
By the way, I noticed that your last name is French. I'm Quebecois. My last name is from my husband. He is mostly Irish with a bit of Scandinavian mixed in. Where are you from?
Thank you for your prompt response. Most of the arguments for same-sex marriage assume that homosexuality is immutable and that discrimination against homosexuals violates the 14th Amendment. I'm uncomfortable with this line of argument for a couple of reasons. First, claiming that homosexuality is inborn echoes the assertions of doctors who labeled homosexuals as mentally ill half a century ago. Second, it is not quite true. Technically I could settle down with a woman. I just would be miserable in that marriage. Finally, this argument leaves out bisexuals. Bisexuals can be happy with an opposite-sex relationship or a same-sex relationship. Doesn't the bisexual man have the right to take a groom if his soul mate happens to be a man? Perhaps you could argue for legalizing same-sex marriage by citing the right to privacy. This right is the basis for striking down abortion bans and sodomy prohibitions. However, the USA Constitution does not explicitly mention any right to privacy. An argument built on this foundation might not be stable enough to last the decades. I prefer to think of marriage as a contract. Any two people should be able to create what ever type of marriage they want. Perhaps you can brush up on US contract law.
Your concern about my soon to be demolished block is touching. Thanks for consulting your colleague, although I am not optimistic.
As for your last question. I was born and raised in New York City, USA.
Yours in Liberty
The sky was getting dark. The July 4th fireworks would begin soon. Benjamin took his folding chair and some cold, leftover pizza to the roof so he could enjoy the show. As the brocades, comets, and chrysanthemums light up the sky, Benjamin pondered American freedoms. If he lived 80 years ago, he could be banned from working for or studying at most colleges, because he was black. If he lived 50 years ago, he could be arrested or hospitalized for having sex with other men. Today, he did not face any of those problems. Instead, he faced the prospect of seeing his office destroyed for reasons that had nothing to do with his race or sexuality. Benjamin wasn't sure if he was gaining rights over time or just trading them.