To understand the decline in quality of the debate on gay marriage from its early potential to its current name-calling, you can start by reading two pieces by Andrew Sullivan 19 years apart. In the first, “Here Comes the Groom,” he outlines a solid argument on the merits of extending the institution of marriage to same-sex couples. In the second, “My Big Fat Straight (sic) Wedding,” he rhapsodizes about how wonderful state recognition of gay marriage makes him feel. With said recognition, his “wedding”* “shifted a sense of our own identity within our psyches and even our souls.”
That later form of “argument” is currently on display in a San Francisco court room where lawyers are making a 1970s case for gay marriage, it’s all about feelings, nothing more than feelings. These lawyers have, in the words of my friend Charles Winecoff, turned gay marriage advocates’ “fetish for state-sanctioned self-esteem into a federal case.”
In the trial, Perry v. v. Schwarzenegger, a lesbian couple from Berkeley and a gay couple from Burbank, seek to overturn California’s Proposition 8. And in so doing, Charles reports, they’re trying to make federal law out of a saccharine ’70s song:
[Attorney Ted Olson] Olson opened the show by declaring that “domestic partnership has nothing to do with love” – essentially admitting that the two couples are seeking legal recognition of their feelings. Then the complainants took to the stand to deliver a string of what even theLos Angeles Times called “emotional accounts,” proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that non-celebrities no longer need Oprah (or Jerry Springer) to validate their existence.
First, Jeffrey Zarrillo testified that ”the word marriage” would give him the ability “to partake in family gatherings, friends and work functions as a married individual standing beside my parents and my brother and his wife. The pride that one feels when that happens.” Does he mean that, like Michelle Obama and her country, he never before felt pride being with his partner? In their nine years as a couple, did they never attend any of those events together?
If “the word” means so much, why not just call yourself married? (more…)