Less than two short weeks ago, I found myself in the middle of a triumphant crowd on San Francisco's Castro Street, celebrating a milestone I never could've conceived of back in my teen years when I took my first nervous steps along this historic gay thoroughfare.
As of June 26, marriage equality became the rule-of-law here in California after a hard-fought court battle to overturn Proposition 8, an 2008 anti-equality ballot initiative while the simultaneous striking-down of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) meant that same-sex marriages performed here would be treated as legitimate by the US government. This was a huge victory for human rights. (One of my dearest friends Christie Herring has just released her magnificent documentary The Campaign, about the front-line individuals involved in trying to stop the passage of Prop 8. Check it out here.)
Any astute astrological observer would've seen this issue coming to a head, augured by the wave of revolutionary change carried by this decade's Uranus-Pluto square. As astro-historian Richard Tarnas has pointed out (in his landmark tome Cosmos and Psyche), whenever a hard aspect forms between Uranus and Pluto, we witness an era of collective turbulence that often coincides with notable advances in human rights. Their last such aspect was the conjunction in the mid-1960s, a period that has itself become synonymous in the popular imagination with just such turbulent advances. By such astro-logic, the Supreme Court's rulings on same-sex marriage equality seem to have occurred right on time.
To reel in any tendency to paint the present Uranus-square-Pluto period in too unilaterally a rose-colored tone, let me remind us the latest human-rights-related news hasn't all been bouquets and wedding-cakes. Just a day earlier, the same Supreme Court ruled to largely undo the anti-discriminatory protections afforded by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (passed during the peak of the Uranus-Pluto conjunction), under the rationale that our nation has changed in ways which make such protections unnecessary though, before the ink on this decision had even dried, states singled out by the Voting Rights Act for their discriminatory history were already rushing to propose legislation with new requirements which would disenfranchise the very voters that original Act had sought to protect. During this same week, we were bombarded by sensationalistic headlines about the sudden decline of uber-Capricorn Paula Deen's cooking-show empire, following reports of her alleged racist comments and discriminatory employment practices. Public discourse on structural racism and the continuing power of 'the N-word' was running rampant, even as the Court argued (inaccurately, I believe) the days of blatant voter discrimination were behind us. Uranus and Pluto remind us that progress in human-rights arenas is never an orderly, straight-line march.
The day the marriage-equality rulings were presented also happened to feature the exact grand water trine between the Sun, Saturn and Neptune a beautiful configuration which mirrors the similar grand trine Jupiter in Cancer will form with Saturn and Neptune just over a week from now, the other big astrological happening of this time-period. Such synergies between water-sign planets foster a surge of sympathetic emotion-based understandings which can, under the right circumstances, propel us to compassionately transcend the limitations of our dogmatic belief-systems, based on what we learn from our direct experience. (Such a profusion of water can just as easily, on the other hand, spur us to discount logic altogether and proceed down a wholly irrational path of wishful thinking.)
The fact of this grand-water-trine influence in effect at the time of the rulings only confirms my conviction about what ultimately changes the hearts-and-minds of a populace in such matters of moral evolutionnot righteous declarations about justice made by official mouthpieces-on-high, but everyday encounters in which we come to know people of different backgrounds or lifestyles, and then grow to care about them as individuals. A broader lesson of such watery thinking can be applied beyond the specifics of the marriage-equality debate: Instead of preaching our ideological views from the disembodied perspective of abstract thinking, we might alternatively choose heartfelt discussions with individuals whose own experiences are directly impacted by the real-life consequences of these sanctimonious ideologies. It's harder for someone to be staunchly anti-marriage-equality, for instance, if they have a family-member or close-friend who's suffering from the inability to legalize formalize their relationship with a same-sex partner especially if they actually listen to the pain in their loved one's heart. And before someone purports to live in a color-blind society and therefore doesn't believe in 'special protections' for members of minority groups, perhaps they should start by asking a person of color to share their firsthand observations of day-to-day life and hear what it's really like for them, rather than assuming racism is a mere relic of the past.
As strongly as I feel that same-sex couples should have the legal right to wed, I am not quite as enthusiastic about marriage as a goal in my own personal life. Though I have been with my partner for more than nine years and we are actively committed to staying together indefinitely, we share an ambivalence about whether getting married is right for us. Sure, there are legal and economic benefits to marriage and since we both have significant earth-sign energy in our astrological makeup, these pragmatic advantages are worth our consideration. Yet, even with its recent evolution, marriage is essentially a heteronormative institution, prioritizing a long-term (and implicitly monogamous) pairing as the preferred relationship structure above all else, so much so that the government actually incentivizes its citizens to join the ranks of the wedded. It's because of these government-sanctioned incentives that marriage equality is a moral imperative. However, I question whether the government should at all be in the business of actively advocating for one relationship-structure preference over another, at the literal expense of those who freely choose something different.
I have lately found myself called to participate in a growing movement of astrologers who are actively challenging the heteronormativity built into the practice of our craft, on behalf of the idea that, as astrologers, we have a responsibility to evolve our practices to address an ever-widening diversity of relationship desires and expressions. Like any meaning-system, astrology reflects the mainstream biases of the society in which it's practiced. Astrologers have spent centuries guiding their clients toward the perfect husband or wifeand, as specific situations warrant, breaking the implicitly tragic news to certain clients that, for them, marital bliss will be harder to achieve or sustain. Such a mindset has unfortunately caused harm to the many folks with relational inclinations that don't neatly conform to traditional expectation.
Queer astrology seeks to deconstruct such biases, opening the possibility that individuals may find their greatest satisfaction in pursuing alternative relationship structures (e.g., non-monogamous or polyamorous arrangements), by staying happily unattached and/or forming intimate bonds with chosen family who may not necessarily be the same folks they're having sex with. Whether an individual identifies as straight or queer, they still benefit from an astrological approach that doesn't assume they ought to look, dress or act a certain way, date or sleep with those of a certain gender, or structure their interpersonal relationships in a certain fashion, based on the type of body they were born into. Even as we celebrate the legal victory of marriage equality, I strive to go beyond that milestone in my astrology practice: to encourage individuals to freely be themselves, unique quirks and all, rather than cramming themselves into ill-fitting roles prescribed by mainstream society.
I am proud to announce I will be presenting 'Queer Talk on Client Work' at the first-ever Queer Astrology Conference in San Francisco on July 20 and 21.
Check out more of my thoughts on Queer Astrology in this recent interview.