Let me start by saying that I couldn’t care less what gender combinations are involved in domestic unions. I’m with John Scalzi, who points out that the strength of his own marriage has nothing to do with who’s allowed to marry whom in Massachusetts. I agree: it would be better if committed gays had the same marital rights as heterosexual couples. But I don’t think it’s worth losing an election over.
Gay marriage has somehow become a major issue this election cycle, and the Republicans love it. Why? Because they know most Americans are a bunch of bigoted prudes on this issue. It plays right into their hands: they can claim they’re the party of righteous morality.
Meanwhile, John Kerry’s proclamation at the DNC that he opposed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage received thunderous applause, making the Democratic party look like a bunch of AIDS-carrying, bathhouse hanging pedophiles.
Everyone has heard the sob stories about the gay couples who can’t visit each other in the hospital or make funeral arrangements for one another. Yes, we’re all deeply moved. What most of America can’t understand is why this gives men the constitutional right to doll themselves up in wedding dresses and get all huggy-kissy in town halls across the nation. What the Democratic party can’t understand is that most of the country feels this way.
America has some serious hangups about weddings. They waste copious amounts of money on the things, as if somehow the ceremony itself were more important than the institution of marriage. While millions of Americans can’t afford health care or homes, they think nothing of spending thousands of dollars on a day’s worth of flowers, doilies, and overcooked flank steak. It’s irrational, but apparantly, very meaningful to a very large segment of the population.
My family was cooped up in a lousy motel in Ellensburg, Washington two summers ago and happened upon a TV program called “For Better or For Worse,” where people let their friends plan their wedding in a week for a budget of only $5,000. Mothers cried rivers over such fundamental issues as the color of their daughter’s wedding dress, or whether to invite their second cousin’s dog to the ceremony. Apparently this sort of program resonates with America, because last I checked, the program was still on.
If Americans are reduced to tears at the thought of a taupe-colored wedding dress, imagine how they feel about a man wearing one. This is what the Democratic party simply doesn’t get. This issue is losing them votes. America is not ready for gay marriage.
Here’s what Kerry should have said about the issue at the DNC: “I am opposed to gay marriage. I think most Americans are opposed to it, too, so we should make it clear that no state needs to recognize another state’s laws about gay marriage.” And then he should have moved on. The crowd would have stood silently, and been ready to cheer when he hit his next big talking point. Maybe someday, gay couples will get the rights they deserve, but again: this is not an issue it’s worth losing the election over.
Yes, it would certainly be convenient for gay couples to sign one document and get all the rights of a heterosexual married couple, but gays can get most of these rights in other ways, through separate health visitation agreements, property ownership agreements, etc. They don’t need state-sanctioned marriage to get these things. It’s more paperwork, but it’s certainly not Nazi-like oppression of homosexuals. There are some more significant issues, such as health coverage, but millions of other Americans are losing health coverage for completely unrelated reasons. There is no need to rewrite marriage laws to expand health coverage.
In a just world, everyone would have an equal right to marriage — and I think that’s a world we need to work towards. Just not right now. Let’s work on decreasing the bigotry against gays first. Demanding marital rights for gays is only going to increase the hatred.