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A Book Review/Essay on Gay Marriage from GPW’s Files

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 7:10 pm - April 11, 2006.
Filed under: Gay Marriage,Literature & Ideas

As I was looking through my files in preparation for my presentation tomorrow, I chanced across a book review I wrote nearly eight years ago. As it remains timely, reflecting some of the ideas on gay marriage I have expressed on this blog while it summarizes what I believed needed be said then — and still needs to be said now — in the marriage debate, I share it with you (in slightly revised form).

In the debate on gay marriage, I often fault many of my friends and associates for spending too much time in pursuing the legal “right” to marry, that is, using the courts or legislatures to gain state recognition for gay and lesbian unions. I have countered that marriage is primarily a social institution and that we must first establish marriage as a gay social norm. After all, the traditional concept of marriage, one man to one woman, evolved as a social and religious institution long before it was recognized by the state.

As I struggled in my teens and twenties with my own longings for affection and intimacy, I read whatever I could discover in the mainstream press on homosexuality and, when I could muster the courage, bought gay books and periodicals. Whatever I read, I found few images which corresponded to the love I felt deep in my own heart: for a tender and intimate monogamous relationship with another man that, to paraphrase the great Oscar Hammerstein, would last everyday of my life for as long as I live.

Since coming out, I have discovered that the gay norm is far closer to my own expectations than what I had been reading. But, even today, there still seems to be a dichotomy between gay culture as it actually exists and gay culture as it is portrayed in the media, both in the articles written about us and in the articles, essays, stories and novels that we write about ourselves. If we really want gay marriage, then we must present our lives as they are lived: of men and women seeking same-gender intimate, long-term relationships.

With his book, Together Forever: Gay and Lesbian Marriage, Eric Marcus has taken a necessary step in the right direction. He interviewed forty “self-described happy couples who have been together for at least nine years,” twenty male and twenty female. Some couples have been together for as long as fifty years and they hail from fourteen states, ranging in age from thirty-one to eighty-six. He noted that when he began the project some of his gay and lesbian contemporaries cynically suggested that it would be a short book.


GPW on the road

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 6:58 pm - April 11, 2006.
Filed under: Blogging,Gay Marriage,General

I’m blogging tonight from my brother’s home just outside Cleveland as I prepare for my presentation tomorrow at my oldest nephew’s high school. As president of his school’s conservative club, that bright young man has (together with the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance) invited me to offer a conservative view of gay rights. In line with my recent post on Log Cabin’s joining the left-wing gay groups in pushing for the abstraction of equality, I will hold that this conservative view focuses on freedom. On the marriage issue, I will favor an approach that promotes gradual social change, holding (as I have argued in my posts on gay marriage) that advocates of gay marriage need to make their case to the American people by talking about marriage in the same terms straight people do rather than by appealing to judges by using legal concepts. I plan on citing Jonathan Rauch’s chapter, “What Marriage is For” from his book, Gay Marriage : Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America while mentioning some of the arguments Dale Carpenter has made in his various pieces on marriage (e.g., the one I link here).

When I speak, I tend to speak from notes rather than reading a prepared text — so as better to engage my audience and respond to them. I will not be able to merely post my remarks. But, then again, I might use my notes as the basis for a post.

I do hope to blog while I’m on my journey, maybe even later tonight. But, right now, as I prepare for tomorrow, I’m still trying to come down to earth after meeting my youngest nephew for the first time. As soon as he looked up at me, his face lit up in a big smile, perhaps the highest praise I have yet received since his big sister called me a “silly.”