Math and marriage

Some concepts are just head-spinning

Ginny McReynolds is the dean of humanities and social science at Cosumnes River College

I remember sitting in an algebra class in 10th grade, staring at a question that asked me to solve a problem that looked something like this: The root of x^2-5x+2 = x/2. What is x?

I had studied for the test and, truthfully, I knew that I could probably pull something out of my hat that was the result of memorizing some algebraic rules, but in the bigger picture, this was mind-boggling to me. It made absolutely no sense. I knew that some people comprehended it, but I didn’t.

People who oppose gay marriage say it would “redefine” marriage and that disallowing gay marriage is not taking away a right because that right never existed. When I hear such comments, my head spins the way it spun back in Mrs. Kubo’s algebra class. No matter how much I squint, I cannot make sense of the thing set before me.

I remember when I first had “the conversation” with my mother about being gay. She said she was upset because I had “chosen such a hard road.” I was in my early 20s, having grown up in the ’50s with this secret wedged inside me like a bad case of heartburn. It was something I was stuck with. There had been no choice. But in the more than 30 years since then, I have come to appreciate my gayness in the same way I like my sense of humor, to be glad that I love women in the same way that I am happy to have broad shoulders. I am happy to be me.

What I feel most grateful for, though, is having met and made a home with a woman who gets me, who thinks I’m funny, who encourages me to grow, who tells me honestly everything she’s feeling and who makes me practically want to weep when I watch her sleeping next to me at night. I never would have dreamed I could depend upon another person or give back to someone else this way. I have helped her live the life she wants to live; she has held my hand, my head and my heart whenever I need it.

It’s been nearly eight years, but we are not, as it happens, married. We had a beautiful, touching commitment ceremony the year before Proposition 8, and since it never occurred to us that people would be shortsighted enough to let it pass, we just figured we’d do the “legal” thing in a year or so.

As it turns out, we didn’t get that chance. We didn’t get it because some people believe that letting me and Jodi do what every loving heterosexual couple gets to do would somehow destroy their sacred marriage.

Truthfully, I’d rather solve for x than ever, ever try to make sense of that.