We couldn’t put it off any longer. Last night Dede and I told Ruthie we were getting a divorce. Since we’ve enjoyed what can only be termed a highly successful marriage for 37 years, the news was unexpected.
“We’re getting out,” I offered, not very helpfully. “It’s time. We really don’t have any choice.”
“What are you talking about? You all are perfect together.”
“That’s not the point,” Dede tried to explain.
“What is the point?” Ruthie cried.
I put it as succinctly as I could. “Gay marriage.”
“They’ve been warning us for years, darling, but we never listened. Gay marriage threatens traditional marriage. We were so doggone happy we weren’t paying attention, and now it’s here. It’s everywhere. It’s on our doorstep. We’re under assault.”
Dede chimed in. “Our state legislature has been doing its best to protect us. But they won’t be able to hold out much longer. Have you been reading about Texas? They have a good solid ban against gay marriage, and then some district judge—a Democrat, wouldn’t you know—comes along and issues a marriage license to a couple of lesbians.”
“Our legislature did its job by amending our Constitution ten years ago," I added, "and our Supreme Court—bless its heart—is trying its best to uphold the ban, but these damn gay people keep popping up like mushrooms after a warm rain. Which is fine, of course, until they try to take the place of us rightfully married folks.”
“We can’t keep our heads buried in the sand any longer,” said Dede. “We’ve got to cut and run before it’s too late.”
“Too late for what?” Ruthie pleaded. We knew all this would be hard for her to understand. Thirty-year-olds think they know everything.
“Don’t you see, sweetie? They’ll either kick us off the island or we’ll have to convert.”
“That’s just crazy talk.”
I thought an analogy might help. “It’s just like what’s happening to our religious liberty.”
“Daddy!” Ruthie fairly screamed. “You haven’t been to church in 50 years!”
“The point is”—I was getting a little exasperated myself—“I couldn’t even if I wanted to. The pastor would make me start taking free, government-issued contraceptives.”
At this point Ruthie threw her hands up. “So what else threatens civilization as we know it?”
Somebody had to say it, so Dede did. “Immigration. The Mexicans want to bring in their drugs and take our jobs.”
I help up my hand before Ruthie could point out that neither Dede nor I had had jobs for quite some time. “The thing is, the world is changing, and your mother and I happen to think that it was just fine the way it was.”
Ruthie shrugged sadly. “Isn’t there anything I can do?”
I knew she meant anything to help her poor old mom and dad, but I chose to put her question in a larger context.
“Just keep voting Republican,” I told her. “It’s all any of us can do.”