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She was a lovely woman, probably in her early 60s, wearing a summer dress with a cheery, blue flowery print with a lightweight, white cotton cardigan thrown – with great precisioncasually over her shoulders. She looked as if she would be right at home entertaining her husband’s business associates on board their boat at the yacht club just around the corner, as if she were the one to call if you needed the secret phone number of the best caterer in town. The beautiful themed baby showers she’s thrown for the children of friends are probably the talk of her Rotary Wives Club. Definitely not your usual (usually paid) signature gatherer.

Excuse me, will you sign my petition—

I don’t usually sign petitions, so I started to say that I didn’t live here, my standard response, which would make my signature useless for the cause at hand. If I weren’t lying.

—to protect traditional marriage?

That got my attention.

Oh! No, I won’t

I said, politely and with a smile, and made my way into the post office. She was startled.

Oh! You won’t?

I kept walking. When I came back out, she was asking an older gentleman the same thing, but he kept on walking past her.

. . . so we can protect traditional marriage!

I sure hope we can!

But he didn’t stop to sign her petition, either.

Excuse, me! Miss?

I’m generally polite. I stopped on my way out because she was clearly concerned.

Can I ask why you won’t sign my petition?

Because my marriage isn’t in any danger.

Well, yes, but if—

I wouldn’t have much of a marriage if its health depended on what other people who love each other did, would I? I’m not sure what you want to protect my marriage from.

 Well, did you know— It’s our children— You look like you have young children—

Ha! Obviously false flattery doesn’t work on me. I told her our kids’ ages.

Well, when your grandchildren, then [that was quite an assumptive jump to make], are in school, in K through 12, they’ll be taught – and you, or their parents, won’t be able to opt out, it will be part of the curriculum – that homosexuality and same-sex marriage are okay!

Ah, she believes that it is ignorance that prevents me from signing her petition. That once she invokes The Children! I’ll recognize my dangerous folly and affix my signature to her cause.

I don’t tell her that it will not be “a part of the curriculum.” I don’t recall either me or our kids being subjected to an official State Learning Objective covering heterosexual marriage. We weren’t taught about marriage at all, and I would prefer that public schools not render an opinion on any kind of marriage. Scare tactics based on ignorance and obfuscation don’t work on me, either.

Yes. I hope they will be.

You— Oh, you hope— TheyOh, well.

And she turned back to her petition. Next time, I’m going to say that I never sign anything without first discussing it with my wife.