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"Removing Our Colored Spectacles" thanks to Osaka CG and his husband
The major Japanese national daily newspaper Sankei Shimbun recently profiled Patrick Linehan, Consul General in Osaka, and his husband Emerson Kanegusuke. Patrick and Emerson spoke about the march toward equality in the United States, their marriage, and their life together as a diplomatic couple in Japan.
Here's a link to the article (note article is in Japanese): http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20111121-00000102-san-int and below is an English translation of the same article:
Reading the World from Osaka
“I Want to Live Honestly,” Said Same-Sex Married US Consul-General
It seems that same-sex marriage will likely be one of the issues in the US presidential election next fall, as President Obama has concluded that a federal law defining marriage as only between a man and a woman is unconstitutional. Actually, Mr. Patrick Linehan, 58, who arrived in Osaka in September this year as U.S. Consul-General, has been public about his same-sex marriage with Japanese-Brazilian Emerson Kanegusuke, 39. I interviewed Mr. Linehan about same-sex marriage.
I would be lying if I said I had looked at him without colored spectacles [bias].
“Thank you very much for agreeing to do the interview on a sensitive issue.” When I began the interview this way, with an oblique reference to the subject, Mr. Linehan said, “Not at all, not at all. And it’s not a sensitive issue - it’s life.”
He introduced Mr. Kanegusuke to me as “my husband.” He was as poised a man as Mr. Linehan. He retired from the Brazilian Air Force as an air traffic controller and came to Japan. In 2002, he met Mr. Linehan, then U.S. Embassy spokesman, at a Tokyo sports bar.
They started living together on the Embassy’s housing compound, went together to Brazil, Mr. Linehan’s next post, then on to Canada for Mr. Linehan’s next assignment¸ where the two got married in 2007. They came to Osaka in September this year, following Mr. Linehan’s tour of duty at the US Embassy in Seoul.
At various functions where past consuls-general were accompanied by their wives, Mr. Linehan is accompanied by Mr. Kanegusuke. When Mr. Linehan visited the Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima City, he was side-by-side with Mr. Kanegusuke to lay a wreath at the cenotaph for atomic-bomb victims.
I had asked for this interview simply because a consul general who is open about his same-sex marriage was a curiosity to me. Same-sex marriage is a topic that is likely to be a presidential campaign issue in the US. O.K, this would be another article under my name, I thought. I was just curious. I might have had such an ulterior motive.
I am such a reporter. And to a reporter like me, Mr. Linehan said “I want to be honest” over and over again. I took that to mean “I want to live honestly with myself.” Being gay is innate, and it is not honest to lie about being gay or to hide it.
For a long time, US society did not allow homosexuals to live “honestly.” Coming out of the closet meant being taken out of society. Even in 1984, when Mr. Linehan became a US government employee, if a person’s [gay] sexual orientation was discovered, s/he would have lost their job. During the Carter [this should read Clinton] administration, things improved greatly for gay people, and a publicly gay man was appointed ambassador. There is now an organization of several hundred gay employees at the State Department.
In February this year, President Obama stated that the 1996 federal law limiting marriage to only between a man and a woman is unconstitutional. It will be inevitable that moves toward legalization at the federal level [of same-sex marriage] will draw strong opposition from supporters of the Republican Party. It is also likely that it will surface as a major campaign issue during the presidential election next fall.
The US as a whole, however, is rapidly changing in the direction of accepting homosexuals. Viewed from Mr. Linehan’s standpoint, the US is becoming a society that allows gay people to “live honestly.” The US has about 650,000 same-sex households.
In June this year, New York became the sixth state in the US to allow same-sex marriage. Massachusetts became the first such state in 2004. You may think only six out of the 50 states support same-sex marriage, but there has been a major change in people’s awareness.
A 1996 Gallup poll showed overwhelming opposition to same-sex marriage: “27% were for it, and 68%, against it.” Opposition peaked that year, and conversely, the approval rating was at its lowest level the same year. This year’s Gallup poll indicates that the pros and cons have been reversed. The pros and cons have varied in inverse relationship to each other over the past15 years.
The younger generation expresses more support for same-sex marriage. The latest data suggests a trend toward overwhelming approval soon. Looking back a few decades from now, the present time will probably turn out to have been the time when the pros and cons were more or less in equilibrium.
California’s example symbolizes such equilibrium. In 2008, the state supreme court upheld same-sex marriage, but the approval was overturned by a referendum the same year. The case was subsequently brought into court at the federal level and a fierce battle has continued between pros and cons.
I came across this statement in an essay published in The New York Times by Professor Alexander Steele [phonetic translation] of Columbia University: “Black people, women, Hispanics, and homosexuals…Groups that have been excluded have been accepted into the U.S. one after another, granted equal rights, and taken into the mainstream.”
He made it easy to understand the granting of rights to gay people by giving it a proper place in the course of history.
The US, where black people were once slaves, elected a black person as president. And President Obama has said, “As a Christian, I feel uncomfortable about same-sex marriage.” However, he has also maintained that “I’m a fierce advocate for equality for homosexuals.”
For Christians who believe that Adam and Eve produced the world, gay marriage may cause mixed feelings. The president has been trying to resort to reason to get rid of his own “colored spectacles.”
I’m not that religious a reporter and it may simply be that I’m not used to [seeing things this way].
On same-sex marriage, Mr. Linehan said, “I find Japan very accepting.” When introducing Mr. Kanegusuke to a person as “my husband,” the person’s feeling of surprise and/or bewilderment sometimes comes across. But that is only momentary. “Japanese people don’t display their feelings so much and are quick to understand. I haven’t received any negative reaction at all,” said Mr. Linehan. The wives of successive consuls-general have taken an honorary post at a women’s organization for promoting Japan-US friendship, and Mr. Kanegusuke is the first man to take up that post. “At first I thought I’d decline, but they talked about their need to modernize themselves and their organization, and I got talked into accepting the post,” said Mr. Kanegusuke delightedly.
About an hour of talking face-to-face with Mr. Kanegusuke and Mr. Linehan made me think it is simple and easy to remove my colored spectacles.
Consul-General Linehan reports his activities on Facebook. Please visit http://www.facebook.com/ConsulGeneralOK
(Written by Hideaki Sakamoto)