you explain gay marriage?
I lost a friend who was a lesbian for expressing my view that
marriage is meaningless. It seems to me that the point of
gay marriage is to win official recognition that homos aren’t
second-class citizens, that it would amount to a state-sanctioned
“Gays are OK!” message. I’ve got no problem with gay marriage,
but it seems like there are more pressing issues, like the
shitty economy and the war, and an awful lot of energy is
being spent trying to win something that doesn’t matter except
as a symbol. So why is gay marriage so important? What’s the
Admittedly I’m a straight guy, Dan, but does it really matter
all that much?
I can explain gay marriage. Some gay and lesbian couples would
like to marry for the same reasons so many straight couples
would like to marry or have already married: They’re in love,
they’ve made a commitment to each other, and they want the
rights, privileges, and responsibilities (RPRs) that come
with legal marriage. While some gays and lesbians are after
the “Gays are OK!” message (no one has ever gone broke overestimating
the insecurities of gays and lesbians), most gay couples don’t
just want the symbolism of marriage, TA, but those RPRs—and
guess what? Both matter.
brings extremely important tangible and intangible protections,”
said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry,
the organization leading the charge on gay marriage. “Tangible
or intangible, neither is symbolic. To have clarity and security,
to have people know who you are in relation to the primary
person that you’re building your life with, is no mere symbol.
And gay people have the same need for that security, clarity,
and, by the way, equality, as non-gay people.”
As for your lesbian ex-friend, can’t you see how listening
to a straight guy dismiss gay marriage as trivial might infuriate
a lesbian? Lesbians are famously easy to infuriate (there,
I just did it myself), but being told by someone who can get
married that gay marriage is a silly distraction from the
economy or the war would anger the mellowest homo.
Also, where do you get off assuming that gays and lesbians
aren’t active on other issues? Many of the same folks lining
up to get married in San Francisco last week were folks who,
without a doubt, marched against the war in Iraq and made
donations to Howard Dean (RIP). Maybe once gays and lesbians
are no longer second-class citizens we’ll be able to focus
like laser beams on just the economy or the war. In the meantime,
TA, as long as we’re treated as second-class citizens—and
we are, every day save April 15—gays and lesbians are going
to fight for our rights, if that’s OK with you.
Finally, for a taste of why so many gays and lesbians give
a shit about marriage, check out dearmary.com/mary, a Web
site devoted to shaming Mary Cheney, Vice President Dick Cheney’s
daughter. Before her father took over the world, Mary Cheney
was a professional lesbian and an advocate for gay rights.
Now, as her own father stumps for an amendment to the U.S.
Constitution that would do lasting harm to his own daughter
and all other American gays and lesbians, Mary Cheney is AWOL.
At dearmary.com/mary you’ll find heart-wrenching letters that
show why marriage rights for gays and lesbians are important.
And anyone who’s interested in sending Mary “My Heart Belongs
to Daddy” Cheney a letter can do so via the Web site.
I’m a 29-year-old gay man who started coming out when my
state, Ohio, passed a discriminatory law banning gay marriage,
civil unions, and domestic-partner benefits. The people who
run this state keep saying how they don’t want to lose to
other states the young, creative people with professional
degrees. Well here I am, Ohio, and soon I will go.
I was filled with this coming-out gusto until Super Bowl Sunday.
I went to the biggest gay bar in Cleveland. There were at
least 50 TVs in the joint. Not one had the game. I asked the
bartender if they were showing the game. He said they don’t
show sports. “This is a gay bar you know,” one of the patrons
added. Now I don’t know what to do. Most of my friends are
straight—hell, I would be straight except for the likes-to-lick-hairy-chests
thing. So where is someone like me supposed to go? Straight
Ohio doesn’t want me, and Gay Ohio apparently doesn’t either.
Maybe there really isn’t a place for me.
gay bar wasn’t showing the Super Bowl, and one old queen wasting
away on a barstool said something bitchy, and now you’re wondering,
like Maria and Tony, if there’s a place for you? Puh-leeze.
For someone who likes hairy-chested sports, GFO, your skin
isn’t very thick. My first bit of advice: Toughen up, you
big pansy, it’s a rough world out there.
On to your problem: You admit that you don’t know many gay
people (“Most of my friends are straight. . . . ”), GFO, and
that’s the real issue here. While on average fewer gay people
give a shit about professional sports (full disclosure: I
don’t even know who played in the Super Bowl), there are tons
of gay people out there—in Ohio and elsewhere—who love pro
football. Once you get to know more gay men, GFO, you’ll meet
more of the gay men who like the same stuff you do, from licking
hairy chests to watching hairy-chested men slam into each
other. There’s a place for you, GFO. Now stop whining and
go find it.
I’m sure your readers have been following the gay marriage
hoopla in Massachusetts and San Francisco. While I have reservations
about the institution of marriage, I believe this is a big
moment in the fight for gay rights. And I have a simple idea:
All engaged straight couples who support gay rights
should get married in Massachusetts. No doubt gays and lesbians
are going to flood Massachusetts for same-sex weddings. However,
the number of people ready, willing, and able to marry is
small. This is where our straight friends can do something
important. They can show that they support us by having their
weddings in Massachusetts even though they can legally marry
anywhere in the country. The wedding industry generates $35
billion in sales annually. If Massachusetts gets a lot more
of that revenue, business people and politicians will notice.
It may be inconvenient to get married in Massachusetts if
you live in, say, Oregon, but what’s a little inconvenience
compared to the opportunity to help advance civil rights?
me two people about to be married—gay or straight—who can,
even for an instant, think of anyone other than themselves.
If that couple exists, and if that couple is straight, and
if that straight couple is oddly passionate about gay rights,
then maybe—maybe—one straight couple will opt to marry in
Massachusetts after reading your letter. This will not, I’m
sad to say, bring the other 49 states to their knees. Instead
of asking our straight friends to trek to Massachusetts to
marry, gays and lesbians should ask them and their families
to make big fat contributions to Freedom to Marry. (Donations
can be made to the group via its Web site, freedomtomarry.org.)
Perhaps our straight friends who are getting married could
include a donation to Freedom to Marry in their gift registry.
Unlike other wedding presents, gift contributions to Freedom
to Marry are tax deductible.