Looking for a Diagnosis

Behaviors that mystify and depress me:

A few days ago, the news carried a poignant story about an Ohio man named John Arthur. Arthur is in the terminal stages of Lou Gehrig’s disease, and is dying.  He and his partner of twenty-plus years recently flew to Maryland together, in a specially-equipped aircraft, in order to be legally married before Arthur died, something their home state of Ohio would not permit.  According to news reports, Arthur was unable to rise from his hospice bed.

When they returned to Ohio, they won a court decision that allowed Arthur to fulfill his dying wish. As Think Progress reported:

In his final days, Arthur wants to honor his commitment to his husband. He wants his own death certificate to list Obergefell as his “surviving spouse.” And he wants to die knowing that his partner of 20 years can someday be buried next to him in a family plot bound by a directive that only permits his lawfully wedded spouse to be interred alongside him. And, on Monday, a federal judge ruled that Arthur should indeed have the dignity of dying alongside a man that Ohio will recognize as his husband.

And now, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) wants to take that dignity away from Mr. Arthur. The day after a judge issued a temporary restraining order requiring Ohio to list Arthur’s husband as his “surviving spouse” on his death certificate, DeWine announced that he would appeal this decision and try to strip a dying man of his final wish.

The judge’s order is limited exclusively to Arthur and Obergefell. Indeed, as the judge explains, “there is absolutely no evidence that the State of Ohio or its citizens will be harmed by the issuance” of an order requiring Ohio to acknowledge the two men’s marriage. “No one beyond Plaintiffs themselves will be affected by such a limited order at all.”

Closer to home, a relative I dearly love has been in a same-sex relationship for 5 1/2  years. From all indications, the relationship was mutually-supportive and loving. The only issue that has troubled them has been the refusal of her partner’s parents to accept the fact that their daughter is gay. When it appeared that she would not “grow out” of “this phase,” they issued an ultimatum: renounce what you are and terminate this relationship, or we will no longer consider you our daughter.  She acquiesced.

My relative is heartbroken, and I ache for her, but I know she will eventually find someone less conflicted. My deeper sympathies are for the girl torn between her family and her identity–the girl without the inner strength to be who she is in the face of her family’s twisted and selfish “love.”

I don’t understand people like these. I don’t know what it is that makes them so vicious and judgmental, so willing to hurt other human beings who are just trying to live their lives. I don’t understand politicians who define success by how well they can marginalize and demonize other people.   I especially don’t understand parents who would reject an accomplished and dutiful child simply because she loves differently–parents who would consign a child to a life of pretense and loneliness rather than reconsider beliefs that are already headed for the dustbin of history.

There must be a psychiatric diagnosis that explains these poor excuses for human beings, but I don’t know what it is.


  1. My parents turned their backs on me for 12 years after I married a black man; even after our divorce and I lived in my own home with my white children, the situation did not change. My mother told me that no one in either famiy wanted anything to do with me; I learned years later that was a lie. They did not notify me of my uncle’s death, I had to ask permission to attend my brother’s funeral and they stopped contact with my children because of who I married. My in-laws loved and respected me for myself as I did them. After 12 years my parents finally visited my home in a primarily black neighborhood for the first time and were amazed at my lovely, quality home. When I asked if they expected to slip on watermelon rinds and trip on chicken bones, my mother asked me to be patient because they were trying. At that point I commented they probably wouldn’t want to meet the gay Jew I was dating; they only groaned. This comment was true; an intelligent, funny, responsible man who was a pleasure to spend time with. There is no explanation and no cure for these closed-minded people who would rather lose a daughter, or son or any family member who does not agree with and accept their bigotry as THE way of life. My patience has often been worn thin but I have never tried to force my beliefs and views on them and never turned my back on them. They have every right to be bigots, just as they have every right to be staunch Republicans with closed minds.

  2. Gosh! I love Sheila’s stories and JoAnn’s, too! I’ve just watched a segment of “Full Court Press” (the Bill Press Show) on Current TV in which a young gay man recounts the problems of his relationship where it concerns his partner who died suddenly and tragically. The story is in a documentary to soon be available called “Bridegrooms”.

    Following that, the woman who has written “All-In America” came onto the set of “Full Court Press” to talk about what it is actually going to take to get and keep this country going in the right direction. That would be more than we’re doing currently. We, every man, woman, and child, need to be about the business of going ‘all-in’ (that takes in everybody) to save this system which we profess to love.

  3. I think the human species is a separatist species by default…distrustful of different “tribes”, and may have been an important asset for survival as we evolved.

    When young we didn’t like or trust kids from the next block, when we got to know them, together we did not trust kids from another grade school. Grade schools combined in high school and together we didn’t like the kids at a rival high school…ect. In my area of suburbs all were white so race was not a factor and gay kids were in the closet.

    As with the distrust of the kids on the next block, when we got to know them we discovered we had many things in common and ended up liking them…exposure to others was the answer.
    But than again, humans tend to flock to others with similar interests, in our high school the greasers (red necks) fought with the athletes…so the “Tribe” mentality was still at work. If a group from another high school came by the greasers and athletes stood together….go figure??

    The good news is, that our younger generation does not seem to be as resentful to others for their sexual preferences or race.

  4. My remark about growing up in an all white suburb is incorrect. We had kids of Mexican decent in our area and nobody thought them any different. One was more likely to be ignored for going to a different school than for race.

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