By Denise Clay
I start this column off with hearty congratulations to New York’s gay and lesbian community.
Why? Because on Saturday, at least in your home state, you have joined the community of people who can stand in front of an Elvis Impersonator and be joined in holy matrimony.
Thanks to a 33-29 vote in the Republican-Controlled (!) Senate, a bill allowing same-sex marriage was passed into law. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a guy that I know can pressure anyone into doing anything he wants them to because he successfully pressured the Department of Housing and Urban Development to go to bat for a friend of mine who had been victimized by a hate group a few years back, got all of the proponents of same-sex marriage into a room, coupled them with some Republicans with deep pockets (and gay relatives) and turned them into the kind of coalition that can turn something like a same-sex marriage bill into law.
(New York’s gay community might also want to give a word of thanks to Food Network boxed food doyenne Sandra Lee, the governor’s gal-pal. You see, she has a brother who’s gay and my guess is that he decided to take care of this issue quickly because he might have threatened to prepare a state dinner the “semi-homemade way”. I know that the prospect of serving dignitaries Betty Crocker brownies and store-bought angel food cake would certainly motivate me to action…)
The news gave an added lift to NYC’s annual Pride Weekend celebration. Folks poured out into the streets and gravitated to the Stonewall Inn, the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement to celebrate and I can only imagine what the Pride Weekend parties were like as the news began to circulate.
But while people around the country and the world (a friend of mine from Hong Kong who’s a native New Yorker gave his home state props via Facebook when the vote was announced), folks like Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage and her compatriots in the Catholic Church and other places have promised to target the four Republican senators who changed their votes in favor of the law and have are even planning to go to court and get implementation of the law stopped…and replace it with one of those lovely constitutional amendments that mandate that marriage be strictly the parlance of straight couples.
While I have no doubt that a whole lot of black folks have jumped on that “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” train, I’m not among them, nor do I plan to be.
That’s because I don’t understand what all of the same-sex marriage fuss is about.
This law has been on the books for almost a week, and guess what? No one died! No straight couple has been divorced because of it. No one gay or lesbian has been killed from a meteor falling from the sky. The fire and brimstone promised hasn’t happened.
In other words, people have been living their lives and doing so in context. New York is one of only eight states in the United States that allow gays and lesbians to get married, enter into a civil union (which isn’t the same as marriage, no matter what President Obama says) or even enter into a domestic partnership (which is really far off from marriage.)
But what really makes me question what all of the fuss is about when it comes to gays and lesbians marrying is the fact that no one who’s against this has been able to tell me yet what these folks, some of whom have been together longer than Newt Gingrich has been with any of his wives, can do to sully the institution of marriage itself that straight people haven’t already done.
I mean heck, Britney Spears got married to someone for 53 days. The aforementioned Mr. Gingrich, who makes me cringe whenever he starts to talk about marriage, was screwing around on his second wife with his third wife when he created the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Michael Jackson managed to find not one, but two people to marry his strange behind. (I know that’s technically disrespectful to the dead, but you know I’m right.) And don’t even get me started on Pamela Anderson, Jennifer Lopez, and the late Elizabeth Taylor.
If the whole idea of putting marriage on a pedestal that keeps gays and lesbians from having access to it is to preserve it from being tainted by those undeserving, and we use the examples I mentioned above as a start, there’s a whole list of folks whose pictures need to be put on chapel doors to keep them from entering.
And besides, how seriously should I really be expected to take something that can be legally performed in Las Vegas by an Elvis Impersonator. Really?!
If it’s a religious exception you have, fine. You’re entitled to that. But let’s not use your religion as a justification to codify a form of discrimination. It’s not fair to a lot of people who deserve the right to have their long term relationships respected.
So I congratulate the gays and lesbians of the state of New York. Maybe one day, Pennsylvania will stop passing permit to carry laws and cutting education funding long enough to bring total equality to the Keystone State.
And Elvis Impersonators around the world will have a side gig…