I have yet to make my first post on gay marriage. This is not because I don’t have strong feelings, but because I have this aching, lingering feeling that this issue is being stirred up by a cynical right that wants to divert attention from the fact that nothing the right says for the past few years adds up. “Hey, we got everything we asked for in our agenda and nothing we said would happen did. Quick, get everyone worked up about something before they notice! What would be good? I know, homos! Excellent, have the president propose an constitutional amendment.” So, while I have strong feelings on the subject, this may well be my one and only post. I am trying to avoid feeling as if I had been played by having my outrage strings plucked so regularly.
I attended a gay marriage over a decade ago so perhaps I’ve got a head start on thinking this is just how things ought to be. My wife and I had the absolute honor of being invited to the nuptials of Nicola Griffith and Kelley Eskridge on a beautiful day in Atlanta in September. About 30 friends and family filled up their small house and backyard, drank mimosas and mead, read from their love letters to each other and granted their deep and abiding love public approval and validation. It was an absolutely beautiful ceremony, the acknowledgement of commitment between two people who are deeply devoted to one another. No matter how you work the arguments, I refuse to find something wrong in this because there is nothing that can be objectionable to anyone who uses their own eyes and own thoughts. Eleven years later, these two women remain as committed as they were that day and had been for years before then. The person who tells me that this means they are going to hell and should be kept apart because of a stray passage in an obscure list of outdated desert survival rules in Leviticus is a person I fervently invite to place those same lips they use to pray to their god directly upon my buttocks. The marriage they had that day was not legally binding, but it was morally binding. To suggest that they are less deserving of the protections of the state for two people who have committed their lives because their love is outside of the proscribed boundaries is absurd.
Try as I might, I really cannot think of any secular reason why there should be an opposition to gay marriage. As you trace all these arguments back, when you get to the headwaters it all comes from religion. Therefore, it seems to me that all the efforts to legislate the issue either state by state or federally are all efforts to get a particular religious point of view cemented into law. Is there any secular reason? Please email me or comment if you can think of one. I’ve been thinking on it for months and haven’t thought of one.
I can remember when I was younger, the codemnation of gays was usually on the grounds of their promiscuity and low morals. This would have been in the late 70’s/early 80’s swinging disco era, when the closet was slowly being emptied and the enormity of the number of gays in the country was slowly sinking in. For the longest time, the predominant TV image was that of leather thong wearing men running amok at gay pride parades in San Francisco. The idea was always “Look at this, they run around rutting with their anonymous sex – this against the normal order.” Somehow, over the years when in fact what it turns out is that what many gay people want is to settle down, be monogamous and even start families, the outrage did not diminish only shifted fronts. It seems what the religious right most fears is that the average American learns how normal and even boring the desires of gays are. They just want to be like everyone else, when their spouse goes in the hospital they want to be the ones making the decision. They want their significant others to be able to be on their insurance. If they have a child together, they want equal legal standing as parents. This is not revolutionary stuff – it is automatic baseline for any heterosexual couple, even ones that get married in Vegas on a whim. To deny this to people who want nothing more than to increase the stability in their lives and consequently that of society of a whole has no moral justification to me.
I’ve been saving up a bunch of links for this post, knowing that I might only do one. Here comes the flood, say goodbye to flesh and blood.
The absolute best and most concise puncturing of the rationale against gay marriage, that of the Levitical prohibition, comes from God Hates Shrimp.
Shrimp, crab, lobster, clams, mussels, all these are an abomination before the Lord, just as gays are an abomination. Why stop at protesting gay marriage? Bring all of God’s law unto the heathens and the sodomites. We call upon all Christians to join the crusade against Long John Silver’s and Red Lobster . Yea, even Popeye’s shall be cleansed. The name of Bubba shall be anathema. We must stop the unbelievers from destroying the sanctity of our restaurants .
Ellie Lang writes about sending flowers to San Francisco. Says she:
I hoped the couple liked the flowers. I hoped they had supportive friends and family. Most of all, I hoped that they would have nice lives and grow happily old together.
5. Heterosexual marriage has been around a long time and hasn’t changed at all; women are property, blacks can’t marry whites, and divorce is illegal.
Via Electrolite comes a link to a parody press release, PRESIDENT PROPOSES MARRIAGE AMENDMENT TO SATISFY AL-QAEDA
“We are not infidels,” says a somber Bush. “We agree with you on so many issues.”
Via Brian Buck comes a story about a black minister who says he would ride with the KKK if they were riding against gay marriage. Wow. It’s nice to know that Rev. Gregory Daniels has his head in the game, and has decided that gay people commiting their lives to each other is worse than cracker asses lynching negroes and dragging them to death behind trucks. As Brian says, “Whew! You gotta hope the KKK takes him up on the offer and shows the world what an ass this guy is. “
In BoingBoing, Cory Doctorow points to and discusses this Orson Scott Card anti-gay editorial. My one and only experience with Mr. Card as a person was interviewing him for the radio show. Although he was quite pleasant in that regard, I disagree with almost every political statement he has ever made as I do this one. Poppy Z. Brite points to the same editorial with a thoughtful and emotional post about how this made her break down into tears.
Sanford (quoting from the Bible): “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” — Revelation 20:12
Mykeru: Uh huh. How about this one:
“Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” — I Corinthians 14:34-35 (NIV)
How many times do you think Susan Sanford has been disgraceful in church? Do you think she ran this by her hubby?
My buddy JonnyX on Portland’s issuance of marriage licenses for gay couples. He notes that while the head of the Oregon Republican party calls it an insult to the people of Oregon, he feels notably unoffended.
I said this post would be a barn-burner. I find that the people I talk to in my day to day life agree with the sentiments of a lady I saw on the news here in Chicago who said “If gay people want to go through the enormous difficulty that is being married to another person, let them do it. Why should straight people be the only miserable ones? More power to them.” So, as I said although I have strong feelings on the subject I’m not spending lots of energy on it. I think if we all focus on regime change at home, this issue will take care of itself. The fact that the with the demise of the closet, the overwhelming majority of the people in this country know or are related to someone who is gay and love them anyway means that this will work out to the good eventually. Be strong, live well and all will work out. Over time the enormous non-objectionality of this will become apparent. In 50 years, the today’s opponents of gay marriage will sound as aberrant as do the opponents of integration of 1954 today. People get ready, there’s another train a-coming. You don’t need no ticket, just climb aboard.
Update: Since I first posted this, I ran across Nicola Griffith herself talking about the issue.
But maybe your question was really, Will Kelley and I dash to Portland to get married? The answer is no. While I admire all the women and men in Portland, OR, New Peltz, NY, and San Francisco, CA who are suddenly finding that they’re tired, they’re mad as hell, and they’re going to just take that seat on the bus, damn it, for me there’s no point in repeating the ritual until the certificate means something at the federal level.
Marriage is a double-stranded issue. There’s the ritual, which to me is not about god but about standing up before family and friends and saying: I love this woman, she loves me, we pledge to be strong, and brave, and fierce for one another for the rest of our lives and we’ll need your help in doing so, because life can be hard. Kelley and I have already done that. Then there’s the civil: social security benefits, adoption rights, the right not to be subpoened to testify against your spouse, visitation rights in jail in case she gets banged away even without your testimony, health decisions in case she gets into a fight with the dominant butch once she is unfairly shoved in the slammer (apropos of nothing at all, I keep thinking of Martha Stewart here [g]) and–and, oh, have you bothered to read *anything* I’ve written about my life with Kelley?–immigration. We spent five years and uncountable financial and health resources getting me my green card. I had to change US law to do it. If one of us had been a boy, we could have waltzed into a county clerk’s office somewhere, got married, and paid a $75 fee to the INS to get my immigration application rubber-stamped. So take a minute to think about it: where the hell do you think I stand?