Gay marriage takes more than a little getting used to. But at the end of the day it’s hard to imagine that the institution of marriage would suffer from allowing more committed couples to embrace it.
From Michael Kavey, a recent Yale graduate, in a letter to the New York Post:
[The Post] claims that the Massachusetts court, by requiring gay marriage, turned “several-score centuries of venerable social practice tradition squarely on its head.”
It was not long ago that commentators said the same of courts that overturned laws discriminating against racial minorities, interracial couples and women.
The Post should not confuse what is traditional with what is commendable. There is nothing more traditional and longstanding in this world than discrimination, oppression and prejudice.
Andover, like Yale, is also the alma mater of the Bushes. Look what the kids there are saying now (truncated and bold-faced for your convenience). ‘Not bad for an 18-year-old Republican,’ writes the proud godfather who went it to me. ‘It’s only a matter of time before he sees the light and joins his fellow Democrats.’ To wit:
By Alex Thorn, Andover, ’04
“Activist judges have begun redefining marriage by court order, without regard for the will of the people and their elected representatives. On an issue of such great consequence, the people’s voice must be heard.”
So spoke President Bush on the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling that allows gays to marry in his State of the Union Address this year. However, Bush’s demand that the “people’s voice must be heard” shows his clear misperception of the nature of Civil Rights. There is no “majority rules” on issues of civil rights. If there were, the whole purpose of civil rights would be undermined. The Court is in place to, among other things, protect the rights of minorities, not to adhere to the will of the people.
On May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka Schools that segregation of public schools was a violation of the children’s Fourteenth Amendment rights, despite intense support for segregation from Southern whites. In his inaugural address in 1963, Governor of Alabama George Wallace, one of the chief spokesmen for school segregation, said “I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” Yet, despite intense opposition of integration from the majority of southerners, including Governors, Senators and Representatives, the Supreme Court did its job and upheld the principle of civil rights: protect the minorities from the tyranny of the majority. . . And so did the Massachusetts Court succeed within its boundaries when it upheld the rights of gays to marry.
The decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court represents not activism, as Bush would have us believe, but the most conservative of principles: the Constitution says equality, so equality there shall be.
The Republican Party has become distorted. When did being conservative go from a detest of slavery and desire to strengthen individual and states’ rights in the 19th century to a docket that would revoke a woman’s right to choose and oppose the rights of some to marry?
When? This recent e-mailed echoes the same theme:
FROM THE AIRPORT
Mark Sroufe: ‘I was sitting on the plane from Columbus to Dulles this morning, waiting to take off, when I recognized Republican Congresswoman Deborah Pryce boarding. (She represents my congressional district.) So when we landed in Dulles I waited for her and introduced myself as a constituent. I then told her ‘I want you to know I am leaving the Republican Party because I believe that the radical religious right has taken over the party.’ (How would she know I’m an independent? And I wanted to see how she would respond to a member of her own party.) Without missing a beat she said in a disappointed voice (and a bit vehemently), ‘You’ve got that right!’ That floored me enough, but then she said ‘I wish there was someplace to go so I could leave it too!’ And she walked off (I had to wait for my bag plane-side). I had expected her to stand up for her party. To defend the Republican Party’s actions and integrity. Quite the opposite.
‘If a moderate, respected Republican can be so forceful, so honest, so plain speaking to a complete stranger in an airport, it shows how true and how thorough the takeover of the party by the religious zealots is, and how disenfranchised the moderates have become. It’s not enough that John Ashcroft holds office prayer meetings every morning where employees feel it is necessary to attend so their careers won’t be stalled; it’s not enough that they’ve voted to channel millions and millions of tax dollars into churches under the guise of ‘faith-based initiatives’ and, soon, ‘Marriage Counseling’ (let’s not even go into the judicial appointments they are making); it’s not enough that they plan to introduce an amendment to America’s constitution that, for the first time in history, would weave discrimination into the very fabric of our nation . . . they have effectively marginalized and silenced the moderates of their own party.
‘This is clearly no longer an election that merely pits one party against another . . . It is a battle for the very essence of what the United States was founded upon in the first place: A secular government versus a government guided by one specific religion’s adherents who aim to codify their beliefs into law.’
☞ To Deb Pryce’s comment – ‘I wish there was someplace to go so I could leave it too!’ – I’d say to my moderate Republican friends (especially those who don’t like huge budget deficits) . . . welcome to the Democratic Party! Unlike Representative Pryce, you don’t have to give up your chairmanship of the House Republican Conference to make the switch. You don’t even have to register as a Democrat. Just begin inching our way. We have a big tent. As former DNC chairman Joe Andrew used to say with such enthusiasm, ‘Black or white, rich or poor, straight or gay, you are welcome in the Democratic Party!’
FROM SAN FRANCISCO
My friends Jeff and Ken got married in San Francisco the other day. A lawyer-turned-entrepreneur and an architect, they have been together for 19 years now, and thought maybe they should have the same rights as any other married couple. When I saw them and their marriage licenses the next day, they were beaming.
And this comes from a friend of ‘Mickey and Mike’ – whom I don’t know – who also got married in San Francisco last week:
Hey! Sorry we couldn’t wait for you, but the threat of lawsuits by (out-of-state) family values groups made it imperative that we act immediately. Mike and I got married this morning at City Hall. We were there at 7:30, the doors opened at 8:00, and we were #54. There were several hundred in line behind us by the time we left (at 10:00). Mike noticed that everyone looked so “normal.” There were no beach bunnies, no leather queens, no diesel dykes, no drag queens – just a lot of very conventional-looking couples. It was a delight. Since we needed a witness, we asked the couple behind us to act as witnesses, and we did the same for them. And it turns out they live only a few blocks away from us.
The woman performing the ceremony was very sweet. She got tears in her eyes each time she read the vows.
A lesbian couple we know were married yesterday, alerted by someone who had an inside track at the mayor’s office. They appeared on several newscasts and their picture was on Yahoo.com. They had the first “public” ceremony. The first four ceremonies were held privately. I guess people wanted it kept as quiet as possible so a lot of couples could marry before some judge imposed a stay on the mayor’s order. Mike and I heard about it yesterday morning, but he was reluctant to take off from work since there was only one other person working with him. Since he was off work today, we went for it.
So, whether it is recognized by any other authority whatsoever, we is hitched – and at least the City of San Francisco and (implicitly) the State of California have it on record.
Love and kisses,
Ask your friends who oppose gay marriage whether what’s happened in Massachusetts, and now San Francisco, has made them want to leave their husbands or wives. Is it possible that most straight people just feign attraction to the opposite sex? Or might people be like penguins (in case you saw that recent New York Times story) – most straight, some gay, so what?
(There is a third category — ‘waverers,’ as I think the church calls them – who would probably lead gay lives if there were not so much pressure not to. But in a land dedicated to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, where is the harm in letting individuals find their own way in life and make their own choices?)
I repeat: Gay marriage takes more than a little getting used to. But at the end of the day it’s hard to imagine that the institution of marriage would suffer from allowing more committed couples to embrace it.
Tomorrow, Finally! Pounds to Dollars, Betting on Bush