Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Obama Moved By Our Wedding, Evolves.

We so wanted our marriage not to be a political event -- impossible to avoid, we know, but we aspired none the less -- so it was almost comical on our honeymoon cruise in the Mediterranean to read in the “USA Times” (the 4-page news digest they tucked in our cabin door on the ship every morning) that C’s home state of North Carolina voted by a large margin to extra-double-duty outlaw and ban gay marriage (I don’t know which is the bigger sin: bigotry or redundancy) and then a day or two later that President Obama came out in favor of same-sex marriage. Big week for gay marriage.

I had been so disgusted and to be honest bored with Obama’s gay marriage dilemma that I expected to just roll my eyes when, at of course politically the perfect moment, he finally completed his evolution. But instead I was quite moved. I mean, seriously, the fucking president. I know, it's marriage, and I have all kinds of trepidation about marriage as the flagship issue of our movement. But I came of age politically in the Reagan 80s and lived through Clinton and god-help-us Bush, and now the president of the United States says that he thinks gay people should be able to marry each other.

That’s massive.

And then there’s North Carolina. Of course at our wedding there was a big contingent of North Carolinians, many of them politically conservative but most of whom expressed their dismay about Amendment One and did what they could to persuade their friends to vote against it. And they came with open hearts to celebrate our marriage, to welcome me into their family, to join mine with theirs. Being from a traditional background, they know what marriage means.

One of the most touching things all weekend was watching C’s mother and mine chatting, smiling, enjoying the happy occasion and each other’s company. It was not a political occasion for them. I’m sure they have very divergent views on current issues, but their sons were getting married and they came together, with their families, to share the joy of that.

So all these state governments (mostly Southern, but it’s dangerous to relax with the notion that bigots all live in the same place and have the same accent) and their nasty little amendments. Of course it’s disheartening when it happens, but I come near to dismissing it. I try to focus on history.

All these religious bigots talking about homosexuality as a moral issue, a Christian issue, are identical to Calhoun, etc. in the 19th century defending slavery on Christian grounds. We read that stuff in history class and thought, “Jesus, these people are lunatics, how did anyone take this seriously?” And now we have Maggie Gallagher. It’s the same bullshit. It’s the same punch in the gut when you read it. And if Gallagher is remembered at all, it will be as a horrible person who distorted Christian ideas to justify her irrational hatred of a group of people.

We’ve always had ugly, backward, hateful people among us, but we have at key moments in our history found powerful ways to put them down. The Civil War amendments and Reconstruction. The civil rights legislation of the 1960s. I don’t think it will be too long before some branch of the federal government steps in and says, “It doesn’t matter what you think. People can marry who they want. Grow up.”

I must seem crazy optimistic in light of how conservative Congress and the Supreme Court have become, but the tide has turned. Remember, I still think gay marriage is ultimately a conservative issue and “marriage equality” will be a conservative victory. The normalizing of same-sex marriage is a conservative response to the fact of homosexuality, so I don’t think it’s too much to expect in these conservative times.

Perhaps what’s changed in my view is that I think possibly a conservative response is what’s needed now, at least at first.