It’s almost June, and therefore full-on Wedding Season. I am and have always been a huge wedding junkie, and now, thanks to the miracle of the interwebs, I am able—despite not having received a single wedding invitation for this year (they do tend to drop off with age)—to follow the wedding fortunes of people I’ve never even met. Therefore, I’m thrilled to report that a couple of very nice people whom I don’t know (but would like to) are getting married. The estimable Lisa Congdon is a little farther along in the process than Renaissance Man Daniel Kanter, but—happily—they are equally enthusiastic about their nuptials. Both Lisa and Daniel have written recently and touchingly about their journeys toward marriage (journeys that, in the slow realization that they didn’t have to spend their lives alone, mirrored my own). Both have, despite considerable odds both internal and external, found their soul mates and are prepared to throw in their lot with them, now and forever. Both believe in the transformative power of love, and in the coming together of two people to create and nurture something bigger than the sum of their two parts. Oh, and both are gay.
Anyone who knows me at all knows that I am a somewhat aggressively vocal supporter of gay marriage—of marriage in general, in fact. It seems to me that any two people who are crazy enough to take that kind of a chance on love, in an age when pretty much nothing is certain, deserve all the support we can give them. It has long angered me that, in an era where we have progressed so much in so many ways, we still have to put any sort of qualifier before the word ‘marriage.’ ‘Gay marriage’ shouldn’t have to be. ‘Marriage’ ought to be—ought to be able to be—good enough for everybody.
Why, despite the best efforts of pretty much everyone I know, are so many people still so scared of broadening the reach of this state-sanctioned institution? I guess rather than just ridiculing the arguments, I should address them (call me crazy, but heck, let’s just go for it). Let’s see. First off, there’s ‘gay marriage will corrupt children.’ Funny, none of the children I know who are growing up with two moms or two dads seem to know they’re being corrupted. They do seem to know they’re loved and wanted, though…sometimes more than you’d think. One of my closest friends bravely adopted his partner’s niece a while back (she had been raised up until then by her grandparents, but evolving family circumstances forced a reconsideration), forming for the couple an instant family; someone I know recently began fostering and plans to adopt, with her wife, two siblings deemed hard to place because of their birth mother’s drug addiction; another friend and her wife have two children of their own by the same sperm donor, both lovingly conceived, lovingly (if painfully) birthed, and superbly well-adjusted (which is to say, as nutty as most kids). The story of how these people came to be parents are, for the most part, not typical in the straight community. They are in the gay community. Maybe this is why all the gay people I know with kids are not just good parents, but exceptionally aware and committed parents—they have to work so much harder than most straight people to have kids in the first place and thus are, perhaps, better apprised of what they’re getting themselves into.
How about the ‘gay marriage will corrupt traditional marriage’ argument? Well, I’m on my second marriage, and through both, I’ve had gay friends with life partners (and now, sometimes, spouses). I am here to tell you that I have never once felt that either of my marriages was under siege by my gay partnered or married friends. (One was under siege thanks to extremely bad behavior, but that was an internal struggle best left out of this discussion.) Just how ludicrous is the ‘corruption of marriage’ argument? Well, doesn’t this whole paragraph look really stupid? Yeah. I think so, too.
So, without delving into any of the other objections to ‘gay marriage,’ how do we get to that blissful state of ‘marriage?’ One way is to make ‘gay marriage’ more visible, more ‘normal,’ and, thus, more widely accepted. We have achieved that to a certain extent, thanks to a cadre of smart, strong, committed couples who have braved ridicule, discrimination, and even death threats to perpetuate the institution of marriage all across America. Because of them, our neighborhoods are blossoming with more and more young families…some gay, some not, all of them reflecting the norms of today. And also because of them, and the courageous actions of some of our legislators and opinion-makers, some of our states have even enacted sensible, pro-marriage laws (imagine!). The tide of public opinion on this topic seems, finally, to be turning. I cannot imagine Lisa and Daniel having been able to write any posts about their marriages twenty years ago—at least, not without the hateful, nasty comments outweighing the gushy, pro-love ones. Today, their posts just seem, well…normal.
Another way to get to past ‘gay marriage’ to ‘marriage’ is, of course, with a grand gesture by the Supremes. I favor (if you know me, you know that’s putting it mildly) this approach. I want gay marriage to have its very own Loving v. Virginia. And why not? When it comes to inequality and discrimination, I am not a proponent of the ‘slow and steady wins the race’ approach. No, I want certainty, a gavel, and doors slamming shut in the face of discrimination all over America. I want all the narrow-minded, fearful, religiously misguided, anti-marriage idiots out there to know that, while they might still be able to spew their uninformed hateful crap all over the interwebs, Twitter, and talk radio, their actions are no longer in any way permitted, condoned, or sanctioned by any legal entity or governmental agency of the United States. I want law, people. Equality under the law is unambiguous. And that’s why I lean this way.
When the spouse and I got married, the amazing Ann Kansfield (one of four clergy officiating; long story, but 11 is louder!) began her part of the service by saying she’d been asked to perform the ‘marriage equality’ portion of our wedding. She got a huge laugh, and then proceeded with something she said would be unexpected—and it was, because (let’s face it) nobody expected a lesbian minister to be ‘traditional:’ A simple, heartfelt, and yes, religious (!!!) blessing of our rings. For me, that served as a huge reminder of what marriage equality is all about: The freedom for everyone to engage in the most traditional of ceremonies, if they so choose. Because whether a couple gets married in a barn, in a synagogue, in a museum, or at City Hall, each marriage ceremony is, at bottom, the same. Each is about nothing more, and nothing less, than two people making a mutual promise to cling together in the face of what are, often, enormous odds to build a life, a home, and a family. If that isn’t something to celebrate, something to encourage, and something to fight for, I don’t know what is.
So. Less hatred. More love. More weddings, I hope, soon. In the meantime, I leave you with the words of our friend Doug (another of the four clergy officiating at our wedding): “If we have waited a long time for this day, how long have they waited?” He was right; we did wait a long time. Not as long as some, though. So, to Lisa, Daniel, their fiancée and fiancé, and all the other soon-to-be-married couples out there, congratulations. And to all the other couples out there waiting—including some who have been waiting forty years or more—please don’t give up. I believe in you.