I Double Dog Dare You

Tomorrow, my newly adopted home state of New York becomes one among a minority of states to prove itself as a more enlightened, more compassionate state then all the rest and the federal government. That would be the day that New York legally permits something often referred to as “gay marriage,” something I would rather refer to as “equal marriage rights for everybody.”

Except that it’s not.

Here’s an article in the July 22 USA Toady:

Same-sex couples who tie the knot in New York starting Sunday should visit a financial adviser for advice on money matters when they get back from their honeymoon.

And that advice holds true for any gay couple married under state law.

The reason: While gay couples who say “I do” in state-sanctioned marriage ceremonies are afforded the same rights as traditional husbands and wives in the state where they get hitched, it doesn’t mean these newlyweds are recognized as a “single economic unit” by Uncle Sam, says Jennifer Hatch, president of Christopher Street Financial, a New York City-based financial advisory firm that caters to the gay community.

In short, so long as the federal government continues to enforce the “”Defense” of “Marriage” “Act,”” a piece of law that is so hideous and horrible that when I refer to it I use as many sets of scare quotes as I can, the state laws allowing and recognizing the marriage rights of everyone still don’t prevent those couples from being treated as second class citizens.

We can applaud New York for its bold and correct manuever all we like, but as long as the federal government insists on discriminating against our queer brothers and sisters, it’s still just a big pile of santorum.

And here’s another point that I think must be mentioned when talking about “gay marriage” and the idea of somehow prohbiting it and defining “marriage” as being “between a man and a woman” (as DOMA specifically does): It isn’t actually possible.

Let’s say you’re a woman. You’ve been a woman all your life; you have a vagina and you have breasts and you wear your hair long and always have and you wear frilly clothes and hearing Tom Jones sing makes you a little damp. And you’re also an Olympic athlete. And the Olympic committee yahoos start doing genetic testing to make sure there aren’t any men folk trying to pass themselves off as women and such. And they come back to you and they tell you that you’ve FAILED THE GENETICS TEST; that, in the eyes of the Olympics, you are not a woman.

This has happened. And what it means is that in order to enforce something so insipid as the “marriage is between a man and a woman” horse shit, you have to start by defining what a man is and what a woman is. And, believe it or not, that seemingly simple mission is not necessarily as simple as it seems. You must run, do not walk, and read “Kudzu and the California Marriage Amendment” by Rick Moen, right this very minute. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

So you see, not only are such laws cruel, not only do they violate the Constitution by creating a secondary class of citizens, they are also god-damned impossible to enforce. In fact, as Mr. Moen argues, an argument can be made that there are cases where enforcing such laws can and may actually force the recognition of same-sex marriages. That irony is delicious like licking batter off the spoon.

But there is, for me, a more basic and more urgent reason that this federal government needs to get off its ass and recognize marriage rights for all. I embedded it before, but I shall embed it again, an interview by one Lawrence O’Donnell, during which the lady he’s interviewing says EXACTLY what I have always said regarding this issue: That prohibition of marriage rights for everyone does nothing more but to hurt children. Here, give it another watch:

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And I’m not talking about hypothetical children. I’m not talking in nebulous terms about some concept, some what-if children that might just exist someday down the road. I’m talking about my cousin.

Yep, I’ve got a cousin who was conceived in the turkey-baster kind of way. One of my relatives provided the seed so that his lesbian friends could make a child. He’s a real kid, and he’s a really interesting kid at that. But I’m certain he pays a price because his mothers cannot be legally married. In fact, in the state where he lives, they are so into hating queers that they felt it necessary to prohibit marriage rights for everybody not just in law but in the state constitution as well. Stay classy, Virginia.

I am glad to now live in a state that has seen the light on this issue. It makes me swell up a little. Makes me proud. But it’s a tiny, tiny step. One day, these Untied States of America will have to come around. I lift my glass to the couples who will be able to achieve some kind of matrimony after this weekend. But take that advice. Go see an accountant after your FABULOUS honeymoon. Ya’ll might not be as protected as you’d like to be.

Also, I have a double dog dare for anyone who is opposed to the notion of marriage rights for everyone: You must sit down soon and watch a film called All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise. If you can get through this film and not admit that your perspective has been altered even just by a little bit, then I shall have to give up on you as a lost cause. But I believe in this film. I believe it can warm even the most fervent, most stubborn among you.

Here’s to “gay marriage” in New York. 44 states to go.

One thought on “I Double Dog Dare You”

  1. Thank you so much, for saying nice things about my “Kudzu and the California Marriage Amendment” essay. If it had any useful role in turning around the marriage-equality situation, then it was absolutely worth all the care I took in writing it.

    I personally think we all mostly have then-San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and his staff to thank. As a politically active California voter, I was a bit piqued at him for, in my view at the time, authorising several thousand same-sex marriages at San Francisco City Hall before his gutsy action was enjoined by court action, because I knew public opinion was evolving rapidly towards marriage equality but wasn’t there yet. I feared the exact sort of backlash that then followed with California Proposition 8, the state constitutional amendment that occasioned my essay.

    However, as I later wrote to Mayor Newsom in a fan letter, either he saw more clearly than I or benefited from dumb luck: The moral example of several thousand same-sex couples who just wanted plain ordinary marriage, who were just folks, and who didn’t cause the sky to fall, seems to have changed minds.

    How about that? If you want a reason to be optimistic about progress, despite it all, I give you that.

    And, piqued at Mayor Newsom’s seemingly bad timing or not, I did drive up to San Francisco to applaud and congratulate the happy couples waiting in line outside City Hall. How could anyone not?

    Rick Moen

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