Upon entering the Dollywood (as in Dolly Parton) amusement park in Tennessee, a woman was asked to turn her t-shirt inside out.
It said: “marriage is so gay.”
She did so, but was “offended.”
She was not, of course, asked to leave the park. She was not criticized or ridiculed or otherwise harassed — all of which would be wrong. On private property, she was asked to respect the family atmosphere.
But in news reports about the incident, she makes clear why the “to each his own” arguments you often hear as valid reason to rewrite out laws don’t quite hold up to our new reality.
It is, in fact, as wet as anyone getting off a Dollywood log flume.
Olivier Odom, the woman with the t-shirt, says: “If marriage equality is going to happen, it’s not going to happen if people sit at home quietly.”
Odom said that they visited the water park July 9 with friends and their friends’ two children when she was asked by a person at the front gate to turn her shirt inside out because it was a family park.
Odom said she complied so as not to make a scene in front of the children, but felt offended.
“That’s what we found so offensive — that he said it was a family park,” Tipton said. “Families come in a wide range of definitions these days and we were with our family.”
The two said they felt they needed to file a complaint with Dollywood because they believed it was important to stand up for their beliefs in marriage equality.
“If marriage equality is going to happen, it’s not going to happen if people sit at home quietly,” Odom said.
Odom said they understand the park can have dress code policies, but she felt Dollywood needed to make their policies clear and provide better training for employees when determining what is considered offensive.
Odom and Tipton are not legally married, but held a ceremony last year in North Carolina. They wrote an email to the park asking the park “to implement policies that are inclusive of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; conduct staff sensitivity training; and issue a public statement indicating that the park is inclusive of all families.”
This isn’t just about rewriting the institution of marriage in our laws. It certainly is not simply about being legally friends with financial and visitation and other benefits. It’s about validation. It’s not about tolerance, but enforcing a new moral code.
Take that with your cotton candy.