on 05.16.04, at 7:50 pm
|Some may not be aware that on Monday, May 17th, the sun will rise over a state where hundreds, of not thousands of gay and lesbian couples will be lined up at county clerk's offices across the state, eagerly awaiting their legal marriage license. Although, if you follow the media in any way, it's now hard to miss. Watching FOX News, you'd imagine that this was the first sign of Armageddon. Allowing any slack-jawed hatemonger hiding behind the guise of religion and "what's good for America" has always been a benchmark of the network, though. Sometimes I see Bill O'Reilly and imagine him with a tiny, squared moustache, and his right arm extended, open hand, palm down, and the image just seems to fit. Though on closer examination, FOX News is so far right that even the Fuhrer may have blushed.
On the other side of the spectrum, today's New York Times reads like OUT Magazine. In the Travel section, two stories on gay and lesbian travel. In Sunday Styles, a story on the economic boon of gay wedding revenue, and on the front page (albeit below the fold - we'll take what we can get), a story which continues on later in the section on the annoyance of evangelical leaders that America's Christian community are not as a whole taking to the streets on the issue. All tallied, there were feature stories in 4 of the 7 sections of the paper's prestigious Sunday edition. Not bad, all things considered. If Smarty Jones hadn't won the Preakness, and consumed so much page space, I'm sure that the editorial geniuses at the Times would have found a nice sports tie-in to the blossoming gay phenomenon.
What I'm really getting at is this - shove aside the biased voice I have, and the nostalgia for what may be, and realize for a moment that gay or straight, tomorrow is history. Tomorrow - and let this sink it - will bring with it the first legally sanctioned gay marriage in the United States. Tomorrow there will be marriage licenses proudly proclaiming that "Mr. and Mr., or Mrs. and Mrs. Gay Person" are now bound legally under the laws of the Great State of Massachusetts.
With the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education on our minds, could May 17th become the pivotal, historic date in the timeline of queer history? I found myself a bit guilty of underplaying the significance of tomorrow, allowing it to saturate in with the general media bombardment of day-to-day life, and the overwhelming presence of all things gay and lesbian in mainstream culture in the past year. This, however, is different. Take it out of the context of another "gay story," and realize it for what it is - a momentous turning point in the lives of gays and lesbians living in America. This could lead to one of two things. It could be the point where the floodgates open up, and a wave of legislation - more than the current influx - which will ultimately lead to the federal legalization of gay marriage in the United States, or it could be the "one off" which people discuss until the novelty has worn off, much like Vermont's civil unions are rarely brought up any more. The former is a best-case scenario, at the moment only an ephemeral dream which - along with numerous other variables - hinges greatly upon the results of November's presidential elections. Neither candidate supports gay marriage on the whole, but Kerry comes out as the lesser of two evils, with an endorsement of civil unions, and an open mind. With a Catholic ideology, it's difficult to gauge just how willing he is to handle the subject, but he's proved in the past that he doesn't necessarily hold fast with all the church's dogma (Kerry has been publicly chided by the Catholic church for his pro-choice views). Though neither of these candidates currently bring with them the highest of hopes, I'm backing Kerry, and agree with Arianna Huffington, who has grown fond of the sound bite "When your house is on fire is not the time to talk about remodeling."
With all the excitement, it is also easy to forget that the legal sanction of marriage brings with it all the drawbacks as well. Secretary of State Colin Powell's "Pottery Barn" rule fits well here - "You break it, you buy it." By charging headlong into the battle for equality, we've been loathe to bring up some of the downsides of marriage. Currently, when a relationship ends, what was mine is mine, what was yours is yours, and there may be some bickering over the jointly purchased items. In marriage, What's yours is mine, and what's mine is yours. Real estate, bank accounts, the washer, the tea set, the children - everything is property of the couple. While this isn't meant to offend my fellow gays and lesbians, I have to say - We are at times, although not necessarily as a whole, a flighty, fickle group. Many in this lifestyle are easily swayed by the next big thing, and the luster of bounding to the altar on a giddy whim may prove all too enticing. Too many mindsets like that, and gay marriage could be the catalyst for a whole new breed of divorce lawyers to purchase their homes in the Hamptons. The gay community has built a large part of the argument for marriage around the fact that heterosexuals have long destroyed the idea of its "sanctity," and a surge of spontaneous weddings followed by nasty divorces, complete with courthouse-steps interviews of catty couples delivering barbs about their soon-to-be ex's would provide more than enough fodder for the throngs of naysayers to, well - say "nay."
We must be cautious not to end up being "the gays who cried marriage," and having all our efforts drowned out in a sea of bad publicity and "I-told-you-so." Our next moves will be scrutinized by many who would like nothing better than to see us fail, and use that against us. With other issues like adoption and parental rights looming on the horizon, Massachusetts becomes our testing ground. To paraphrase the saying - "Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of our lives..."
Prodigal Son - 11:03 pm , 11.20.06 So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish - 6:41 pm , 05.29.05 The Beginning of the End - 1:15 pm , 11.22.04 Brand Positioning - 2:13 am , 09.20.04 A Pop Culture Case Study - 9:24 pm , 08.26.04
Prodigal Son - 11:03 pm , 11.20.06
So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish - 6:41 pm , 05.29.05
The Beginning of the End - 1:15 pm , 11.22.04
Brand Positioning - 2:13 am , 09.20.04
A Pop Culture Case Study - 9:24 pm , 08.26.04
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