Gay Marriage in New York!

Mr. wOw considers this week’s historic legislation — and (sort of) tosses rice

Are you going to write about the passage of gay marriage in New York?”  asked B. of me.

“Sure. As soon as I get the ring and mink, Mister!”

B. and me talk a lot like that. We have been together 35 years, and are as married as married can be, as far as I am concerned. B. has been the smart one. He has saved and financed well, made out an irrevocable will — there are really no relatives on his or my side to object — we are orphans. I am safe. And he will not have to pay for my cremation, at least. Mr. wOw has not financed well. Should I drop dead tomorrow, B. will inherit a fabulous estate of Liz and Marilyn memorabilia. (He could sell off those awfully cute, decades-old pics of me to porn sites, I guess.) I have been inordinately lucky — gay, straight, whatever — to have had such a long relationship. To have known what it is to be truly loved and understood. Especially as I cannot love, like, or understand myself.

We are not married. We live in New Jersey, where that state’s bloated, increasingly unpopular governor, Chris Christie is appalled by New York’s libertine ways. But even if we lived in Manhattan, where I was born, I don’t think we’d be rushing to City Hall.

My attitude toward gay marriage is as it has always been — I want tax-paying, law-abiding gay people to have the same right to marry as do heterosexual Death Row prisoners. Slit a throat and you can marry. Sleep with your own sex — nada. This makes Mr. wOw crazy! I would like see all fifty states simply get over it and pass the legislation. That’s my panacea of live and let live.

But that’s not going to happen anytime soon. There are what, six states out of fifty (New York being the latest) to pass such legislation? And I expect challenges, even in liberal New York.

As a gay man of 58, there are other issues that concern me. Basic civil rights! In over 30 states it is legal to deny housing and jobs to gay people (yes, still!) … better facilities for gay teens who are turned out by their families … a reawakening of the importance of safe sex (stop thinking of HIV as something “pills can take care of.” You are being disastrously naive.)

On a lighter, but still (to me important) level, shuddering over TV’s only gay network, Logo, pandering to the lowest common denominator. Although to that some might say we’ve come so far that we can humiliate ourselves as good as straight people. I’d like to see gay people stop wasting their time venting over every slighting remark (I’m not talking Tracy Morgan here — that was extreme) and concentrate on the genuine issues.

Marriage? I’d like the word not to mean so much — to straight and gay people. Read your history everybody, marriage was not a romantic, dewy thing — it was mere bartering. Religion was on the back burner. Cold cash and bloodlines was hot. Not to mention polygamy.

To those gay people to whom the word “marriage” means so much, I bless you and wish you happiness as you rush willy nilly to the altar. We have the right to love (as k.d lang sings so thrillingly) but I think we have an obligation to think beyond symbolic orange blossoms. Personally, I don’t feel the need to ape a heterosexual lifestyle to validate my rights as a gay human being. I demand all my civil rights. But trying to impress straight people that we are “just like them?” Eh.

And by the way, gay people split up, even after vowing eternal love. Ready for divorce court, you all?  That’s lots of fun. Ask your straight friends.

81 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Mr. Wow says:

    P.S. to the above.

    As a 58 year old human being, I am also  concerned with Social Security, health care and the environment.

    I’d like the right to marry.  But it wouldn’t make me feel more complete in my relationship. 

    • avatar Testarosa says:

      Pardon the pun but, wow, I was unaware that you and B. have been together for 35 years. Congrats and thanks for (yet) another great article! Of course you are right, Mr. Wow: the real issue continues to be fundamental civil rights — country-wide — for the LGBT community. I do not wish to sound naive, blasé and/or smug but, as a Canadian, I find it hard to come to terms with the repression and prejudice that pervade your otherwise pretty great country. We have had same-sex marriage in Canada since 2005 but, more importantly, some of our meatier laws protecting against discrimination and guaranteeing equality date back to the 1990’s and even the 1980’s. My country is all the better for it (unless you happen to ask a member of the Westboro Baptist Church)!

    • avatar rick gould says:

      I totally agree, Mr. wOw… people, especially in politics, always focus on the more emotional, “moral” issues for which there is no black and white answer. Some use it as a smokescreen to divert the public’s attention from such less sexy issues as social security, health care, the environment, mortgage foreclosures and jobs!

  2. avatar Chris Glass` says:

    How can this be a country of equal opportunity when marriage laws are not equal for all? It is past time that every state recognize marriage or civil unions as legal. People are people no matter what their orientation might be and ought to have equal rights under the law.

  3. avatar Paul Smith says:

    Now if only some of that activism would now start an anti-war movement, or address a new spike in unprotected sex, while the bridal and legal industries celebrate their good fortunes. This must be the first time in modern history a people fought to be in bondage. Even heterosexuals mock the institution and flee in record numbers. 

  4. avatar Deirdre Cerasa says:

    For me the concept is simple; people love who they love. I want couples who want to be together to have the right to do that in a way that works for them. I want them to be able to legally make healthcare decisions for one another and to live a life together that makes them feel that their relationship is valid. Whatever they want to call it. I understand that many gay couples do not need or want to marry but that many do. I honestly believe it is long past time for all states to pass legislation to allow lesbian and gay couples to marry if they choose and if not, then hopefully they will protect themselves legally as many other unmarried but committed couples do.
    Obviously, Mr.WoW, you and B know far more than I do. I just think this injustice has gone on far too long and that many of us have been silent far too long thinking that it will work out. I don’t want to be silent any longer. I have spoken out for the past ten or so years and will continue to do so. I don’t care if another gay or lesbian couple ever marries; I just want them to have the rights of any other couple.

    • avatar Testarosa says:

      Very eloquently put, Deirdre. Quite heartfelt too.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Diedre…

      Believe me, I don’t know more than anybody.  B. does perhaps.  I want the right to marry.  But I don’t want to be preached to (as I have been) by gay couples who insist the real and true validation of our love is marriage.  And we shouldn’t have cats.  We need to adopt poor babies from across the seas.

      I don’t believe in marriage in general.  I don’t see it working too well across the board.  But by all means, we should all have the right.

      • avatar Jon T says:

        I’m in complete agreement on that last part. My partner and I did get married in Canada a few years ago so the marriage was already legally recognized in NY. But I wouldn’t presume to tell anyone that their relationship isn’t valid unless they now rush to the altar. Getting married was right for US; it doesn’t make us more committed than the next couple.
        I’m especially mindful of that attitude since a few years ago before we decided to wed we were getting flak from a few loved ones for not having some kind of commitment ceremony in front of friends and family (not our thing, especially when we’re being badgered to do so). Having the right to get married doesn’t mean one must get married. Go with what makes you happiest, Mr. Wow.

    • avatar Richard Bassett says:

      Marriage is the missing ‘right’. Without it, gays (and straights) have to address their own rights as one people, worldwide. Not a very easy task.

  5. avatar phyllis Doyle Pepe says:

    Dear, dear Mr. Wow: How I love your fury! Such a bloody shame that this country that I love seems to be still in its teenage years, struggling with an identity still encumbered by that old time religion. We women, lately are feeling the sting, especially in Kansas, once the home of Dorothy and the rainbow connection, now stripped of any abortion clinic. I am waiting for the day when no one will care gender wise about who is having at it with whom, and when men in suits stop interfering with our uteruses and all things fetal. Until then you and B. be grateful for the love, and I’ll keep my spite warm.

    • avatar Testarosa says:

      What’s going on in Kansas is deplorable and your comment about “men in suits” is well-taken. As an inquisitive teenager in the late 1970’s, I began to explore — and read-up on — feminism. There were many quotable quotes to spring from that era but the one that stayed with me came from Flo Kennedy who stated quite simply: “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament”.

      • avatar Mr. Wow says:

        Dear Testerosa…
        Amen to to that, sister!  I love the way men talk about women having babies like it’s…a toothache that will eventually go away.  “Oh, just have the baby and put it up for adoption!”  Sure, it’s that simple, phyically and emotionally.  More appalling when women have the same attitude. I say leave everybody’s love life and reproductive organs alone.  If you believe such things are  a sin, then you believe we will “pay” for it.  Pray for our souls and get the hell off my porch.

    • avatar Richard Bassett says:

      ….waiting for the day……

  6. avatar HauntedLady says:

    The New York law is a step in the right direction and I’m glad it happened. Personally, I have no use for marriage but I recognize that it’s very important to a lot of people. And I do mean people – of all colors, genders, sexual orientation or whatever – it’s all still people and all should have the same rights and responsibilities, be it marriage, child care, pension, or anything else. Now, about the deficit, the war ….

    While I envy you your long relationship, I’m also very happy for you. I hope it never ends.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear HauntedLady…

      Thank you, honey.  If the Mayan calendar iscorrect and the world ends next year, I’m glad me and B. will be going together.

  7. avatar Michelle Cook says:

    Paraphrased from Dr. George Lakoff – written in 2004
    What’s in a word? Plenty, if that word is Marriage. Marriage is central to our culture. It confers hundreds of benefits, but that is only its material aspect. Marriage is an institution, the public expression of lifelong commitment based on love. It is the culmination of a period of seeking a mate, and for many, the realization of a major goal. Marriage is the beginning of family life. It is also understood in terms of deep and abiding metaphors: a journey through life together, a partnership, a union. Marriage confers a social status – a married couple with new social roles. For a great number of people, marriage legitimizes sex. Marriage, as an ideal, is defined as “the realization of love through a lifelong commitment.” Love is sacred in America. So is commitment. There is sanctity in marriage: it is the sanctity of love and commitment. In short, marriage is a big deal. However, none of the richness we have just discussed requires marriage to be heterosexual. Not its definition, not its sanctity, its rituals, its family life, its hopes and dreams. The locus of the idea that marriage is heterosexual is in a widespread cultural stereotype.
    To evoke this stereotype, language is important. The Radical Right uses gay marriage. Polls show that most Americans are overwhelmingly against anti-gay discrimination, but equally against “gay marriage”. One reason is that marriage evokes the idea of sex and most Americans do not favor gay sex. Another is that the stereotype of marriage is heterosexual. Gay for the Radical Right connotes a wild, deviant, sexually irresponsible lifestyle, which is why the Right prefers the term gay marriage to same-sex marriage. Legally defining marriage as being between a man and a woman, makes the term gay marriage an oxymoron, as meaningless as gay apple or gay telephone.
    The more the term same-sex marriage is used, the more normal the idea of same-sex marriage becomes, and the clearer it becomes that marriage is not defined to exclude that very possibility. Which is why some gay activists want to use the term same-sex marriage instead of gay marriage.
    The reason the Radical Right is opposed to same-sex marriage is because conservative politics are organized around the “Strict Father” model of family life. The Strict Father is the moral authority and master of the household, dominating the mother and children, imposing needed discipline. Marriage in the Strict Father family must be heterosexual – to be anything else challenges the basis of conservative values. What is at stake is more than the material benefits of marriage and the use of the word. Conservatives see the Strict Father family and the political values contained in that model as being under attack and they are right. Even civil unions are threatening because they create families that cannot be traditional Strict Father families. This is not just about same-sex couples. It is about which values (progressive or conservative) will dominate in our society.

  8. avatar calgal says:

    As a teenager in the 50s, I dressed like Debbie Reynolds and watched Rat Pack movies where the men patted their women’s girdled butts to scoot them out of the room when they needed to discuss serious matters. I lived in the Deep South during the Civil Rights movement, aghast at the blatant hatred spit out at the “Colored” who dared stand up for their rights. Then, in Los Angeles in the 60s, personally felt the anger at women getting uppity about their own rights. The first time I knew I had a gay friend was when he came out by announcing he would march in LA’s first Gay Pride parade.

    I have lived through the struggles for liberation for Blacks, women, and gays, and cheered and cheered and cheered. I’m now cheering for immigrants. None of these battles is won. Progress is slow for all these groups, and there are many setbacks (like the one in Kansas). But America is a better place than it was in the 50s, and I have faith that it will continue to get better. I’ve seen progress with my own eyes. Thank you, Mr. Wow, for sharing your thoughts on this latest victory.

  9. avatar Mr. Wow says:

    Dear Michelle..

    Great post!  Which values will dominate?  Well, everytime a conservative is elected president , liberals become hysterical and start invoking images of concentration camps for gays, women who want control of their bodies, angry black men and intellectuals.  It never happens.
    Whenever a liberal is elected president, conservatives becomes hysterical invoking images of concentration camps for church-goers, flag-wavers, middle-aged white guys and women who choose to have very large families.  It never happens.

    I think the country will always be split down the middle on certain issues.  Of course, in a generation or two, the complexion of the country is going to be rather cafe au lait, despite the efforts of the Duggars.  This will be  a good thing, tho very scary for those Strict Fathers, who are invariably quite pale.

    Gays have made remarkable–and incredibly swift!–strides in the 42 years since Stonewall.  Faster in fact than women or African Americans.  But we all still have  al ong way to go.

  10. avatar J G says:

    Perfectly said. All of it.
    I’ll add that in my vision for marriage, (I’m stealing from a favorite psychiatrist I sort of know) the courts and government and states would not be involved in marriage what so ever. It would be none of their business who gets married. Yes this would open the door to all sorts of marriages, but for me, it would be worth it, just to keep the government out of our bedrooms.
    I feel that a marriage is between the people getting married and the person they need to marry them, and their loved ones.
    Again, the government does not belong in our bedrooms.
    Also, I abhor the word “tolerant” (I know you didn’t use that word, Mr. Wow, but so many people do)
    The correct word is acceptance.

    • avatar Testarosa says:

      Former Canadian Prime Minister (and noted bon vivant) Pierre Elliot Trudeau chalked up many quotable quotes during his political career (he was just that kind of leader). One of his more famous (or infamous, according to some) ones was: “The state has no business in the bedrooms of the nation”. When was it uttered? Way back in 1967, if you can believe it!

      • avatar J G says:

        To quote my hero, Mr. Rogers;
        “Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”
        — Fred Rogers (The World According to Mister Rogers)

        • avatar Testarosa says:

          Aw gee, that’s got me almost teary-eyed. Leave it to (wonderful human being) Mr. Rogers to come up with such a simple but meaningful statement. But then again, his prime audience was comprised of young children: I guess they provided added impetus to keep it real and live by that rule, day-in, day-out. Thanks for that quote, JG! Reading it has made for a beautiful day in my “neighbourhood”.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear JG…
      Actually, I don’t care who “accepts” or “tolerates” me, personally.  I’m not interested in changing hearts and minds that have raised  been a certain way.  “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught” goes the old song from “South Pacific” and that’s that, tragically.

      I demand, however that the laws of this country are “accepted.”  Obey the law.  Don’t discrimate.  Don’t stop people from marrying.  Get the hell out of my bedroom.  If I was a woman, I’d say get the hell out of my body. 

      We all want to be loved, “accepted.”  That is impossible.  But it is possible to make laws that must be accepted. 

      • avatar J G says:

        Dear Mr. Wow,
        Ok, honestly, the only time (to my knowledge) that I have ever been in a position of being “accepted” vs “tolerated” was as a stepmother. I was tolerated for many years and it hurt me so much. Now, hopefully, I’m accepted.

        I’m telling you this because I sat outside in the sunshine today wondering why you wouldn’t have hurt feelings if you were simply “tolerated” and not “accepted”

        I guess what I’m saying is, I haven’t walked a mile in your shoes, so I may never understand completely, but I’m trying to.

        I accept you just the way you are, you rich, anonymous and famous blog contributor, you.

        Even when you’re wearing mineral makeup from Sephora. 😉

        • avatar Mr. Wow says:

          Dear JG…

          First of all, that mineral makeup is really good.  It has a sunscreen.  I look great.

          Second–darling, I am anonymous. Period.  I am not rich or famous.  If you knew my name or saw my picture, you’d go—“what  Who the hell is he?”

          I am a shadow.  My professional life is vastly frustrating  but it is all I can manage.  I am not secure or disciplned or motivated enough to do anything as….me.  Whoever I am.  (Still working that one out.)

          As for tolerated or accepted–person to person, I want to be accepted.  Loved. Liked. 
          In the bigger picture–just accept laws as they roll in.  Don’t tread on me. I won’t tread on you.  The guy accross the street who hates gays?  Fine.  Be hateful.  Just don’t come to my house with a bat or try to stop me from living my life.  I won’t book a gay wedding in your living room. 

          • avatar J G says:

            Dear Mr. Wow,
            Please don’t take offense. I was simply having fun by subtly referring to another poster, who was quite the idiot.
            I don’t care if you are rich or poor, gay or straight, famous or regular, etc.
            I just seem to care about you.

          • avatar Mr. Wow says:

            Dear JG…

            I am totally NOt offended.  Don’t be silly. 

            And I care for every person who makes the effort to read my drivel and respond. Including Mr. Paul Smith. 

            I am so regular.

  11. avatar ann penn says:

    In many (all?) European countries one gets married first by the civil authorities and then by the religious institution of one’s choice, if one so chooses. This has the advantage of the state, not the religious institution, conferring the legal status on the couple. In this way all marriages are legal under the same conditions. Religious institutions can determine exactly which such unions they will “bless,” or whatever it is they do.

    Such a system in a sense removes the religious institutions from dictating who can be married, but leaves them free to follow their own belief structure as to whom they accept for such blessings, etc. Which is in keeping with our US view of religious freedom.

    I think one reason there is such an uproar from the conservative religious institutions here in the US is that they control marriage, at least as far as whom they marry. Taking religion out of it from a legal standpoint would be a big step, though I fear it won’t happen here. That said, there already are religious institutions in the US that accept couples of all varieties as active members and will marry them, if such couples so desire and it is legal for them to do so.

    I DO think the primary reason for the conservative religious groups in opposing rights for same sex marriage, women’s control over their own bodies, etc., is based in a desire for (they hope) straight male control over it all, no matter how they phrase it.

    • avatar J G says:

      I respectfully will say that I believe that a couple, any couple, should have the right to married by a religious institution. They can tailor the ceremony to suit their beliefs, if they do so believe. (this is my world according to garp, sort of. in other words, in my ideal world)
      For instance, I’m divorced, so I remarried in a unitarian church. (I’m catholic)
      I also told my priest when I was raising my youngest daughter, that I refused to teach her that homosexuality was a sin. I told him that if he wanted that from me, I would simply find another religion. I also told him that I believe in birth control.

      He was cool, my daughter received her communion on my terms. I’m rambling again.
      Why can’t we all just tailor make our own unions,