Wednesday, November 09, 2005

What is the worst place in Texas to be gay?

What would be the worst place in Texas for a gay person to live?

The correct answer would be "anywhere," with the exception, which I will get to in a moment, of Austin.

But, to narrow it down a little, yesterday's gay-marriage-ban vote in Texas may give us an actual locality.

From the figures in front of me, I'd have to say that whatever that place in Texas is, it is also very much in the running for the worst place in the world for a gay person to live, outside of the tribal areas of Pakistan.

In yesterday's vote, the people of Texas decisively amended the state constitution to ban gay marriage and anything that might resemble gay marriage. The vague terminology will no doubt play out in the courts, but I am not optimistic that it will play out in a way conformable with human civilization. Though in a certain sense it makes no difference, since gay marriage was already against the law. But we had not made that prohibition part of the constitution until yesterday.

The figures I am looking at are astonishing for people decently brought up, or who live in the civilized world. Seventy six percent of Texans voted _for_ the ban. Can you believe it? I had expected the ban to pass, but the extent of Texan moral retrogression, as reflected in this outpouring of homophobic venom, was surprising even to me, and I was brought up in this goddamn place.

The _only_ city in Texas to vote against the ban was, of course, Austin, my home, by sixty percent, which would be an impressive majority in most local votes, though it pales in comparison with the statewide results going the other way that I just mentioned. Now if we could just find a way to make Austin part of a nice little New England state...

So to get back to the question, what actually is the worst place? First of all, I guess it depends on what you mean by "place." Texas election results are by county, and many Texas counties consist of a few ranches or farms arbitrarily surrounded by a county boundary. The average drilling rig in the gulf of Mexico has more inhabitants than some of these counties.

But nonetheless, it seems clear the very worst place in Texas to be gay would be Martin County, a few miles north of Midland, President Bush's boyhood home. Martin County voted to ban gay marriage by a margin of 95.41 percent for the ban, 4.59 percent against. _Ninety five_ percent. Jesus fucking Christ. All I can say is that those 4.59 percent are gutsy folks. The next worst place would be Floyd County, (differing by only a tenth of a percent from Martin Country). Floyd County is also in West Texas.

The worst actual _town_ in Texas to be gay would be basically a tie between Longview in East Texas, over near Shreveport, and Midland, which, as I mentioned, and will mention again, is where George Bush spent his formative years, perhaps acquiring his views on gay marriage from his neighbors, along with his opinions on torture from his childhood chums as they blew up frogs with firecrackers. Midland is in West Texas.

The only ray of sunshine here is that younger Texans are far less homophobic than older ones. So, though I doubt if I will live long enough to see this ban go the way of laws against miscegenation, I have some hope that my daughter will.

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