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Cards on the table in Raleigh
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Cards on the table in Raleigh

by Jennifer Vanasco - SGN Contributing Writer

The day after Thanksgiving, I was in a bar in Raleigh, NC, playing cards with Jenny, her two brothers, and two Evangelical Christians who had sat down at our table.

"So y'all are together," Chase said, gesturing at Jenny and me. He looked like an adult version of Fred Savage from The Wonder Years, all blue eyes, bright smile and dark hair.

"Yep," I said. "Play your card."

Jenny and I were liking Raleigh. We liked that she had family there. We liked the abundance of small designers, the lack of chain stores and restaurants, the walkability and friendliness and general arty vibe.

Hmmm, we thought. Maybe we could live here. Not now, but maybe five years from now, when we have children.

Jenny's brother and sister-in-law liked the idea of us moving there, too, so they showed their city off. And so Friday night found us in a warehouse of a bar, smoky and unfamiliar, with a ping pong table (a pool table, too, but no one played) and a few quiet, well-lit corners for a good game of cards.

We were all drinking. The play was jovial; Chase's friend was a good conversationalist and we talked about places we had been. We asked him how he knew Chase and he said, "A small group."

"Bible study," Jenny's sister-in-law translated. Jenny and I looked at each other, but said nothing.

I went to the bar and when I came back, Jenny was telling Chase, "We want to get married because we love each other, and we want to make a public commitment before God and our families."

"But God doesn't ordain that," Chase said.

"There are churches that marry Gays and Lesbians, you know."

Chase shrugged. "Maybe," he said. "But God doesn't ordain that."

"Wait," I said. "What? How do you know what God wants?"

"It's in the Bible," Chase said.

"No it's not," I said. "The Bible says nothing about Gay marriage."

"The Bible says that man will not lie with another man&."

I felt cold. I pulled my jacket on. Chase's friend said, "We're having a nice night here. Let's not talk politics when we've all been drinking."

I looked at Chase. My head hurt. I shook it a little to clear it. "The Bible says a lot of things. It doesn't say anything about Gay marriage. It does seem to say something about Gay male sex. But you know all the reasons why that doesn't matter, Chase. You've got to know that the Bible also prohibits eating shrimp, and that you're not supposed to wear mixed fabrics - but here you are, wearing cotton and synthetics and leather and plastic, right in front of me."

"There was no plastic in the Bible," Chase said.

"Well," I said, "there are a lot of things in contemporary society that weren't in the Bible. That's why we don't read the Bible literally."

"Gays are not right with Jesus," Chase said.

Later, Jenny's brother said, "That's never happened to me before. I know that that attitude is there, but it's not usually blatant."

Jenny's sister-in-law said, "There are plenty of Gay people in Raleigh."

That night, Jenny and I stared up at the ceiling in the guestroom.

People will think what they think. There will always be prejudice. But in a state like North Carolina, which has no laws protecting Gay people except an anti-bullying law in the schools and a hospital visitation law, prejudice is more than annoying; it is dangerous.

If we moved to North Carolina, we wouldn't be safe from people like Chase. People like Chase could deny us a job and decline to recognize a marriage legal in other states. People like Chase could refuse to recognize a child of ours as belonging to both of us.

"I'm so sad about this," Jenny said. "It's one thing to know in the abstract you can't live somewhere - it's something else to see it in person."

"Yeah," I said. There was nothing else to say.

Jennifer Vanasco is an award-winning, syndicated columnist. E-mail her at Jennifer.vanasco@gmail.com. Follow her at Twitter.com/JenniferVanasco. Follow me on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JenniferVanasco.

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