It seems like just when everything has settled down again and we’re back to a nice, normal public debate free of foreigners, minorities, women, or liberals, the queers have to spring to their feet and make a stink over something or other. And so they have. In a fit of civil disobedience akin to Rosa Parks’ decision not to take a taxi, Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, has started marrying homosexual couples by the score. The genie is out of the close – t. There are now thousands of gay, married couples swanning around in America, and foes of their right to be so conjoined will have to divorce them by main force–which reflects rather poorly on the pro-family position same foes claim to uphold. Pro some families, but not all families. This tempest in a tearoom is brilliantly conceived, perfectly timed, and ruthlessly executed. America, slumbering in its ordurous bed of erst-moral rectitude, must wake up and smell the coiffure. What might have simmered for decades as a back-burner civil rights debate, hissing sibilantly, has become election-year headlines. This is the genius of the thing: what’s really at stake, now as ever, loathe as we may be to admit it, is the fundamental concept that “All men are created equal”. Because if all men (or similar) can’t get married, they aren’t equal, are they?
Marriage is a disastrous institution. It is a hellish trap, a mesh of hooks and wires to snare the hapless romantic into a doomed and blissless union. At least that’s what my wife tells me. Marriage is like a dark room into which we seal ourselves, then pace its perimeter with a candle to see where we are. The marriage is generally over by the time both parties have circled the entire space and discovered it’s the size of a bathroom, and someone keeps leaving the seat up. Am I against marriage? No. I am married even as we speak, and I have been married for at least 2,000 years, by my reckoning. I would not trade one minute of my marriage for an hour of unmarried liberty, even if it was an hour in the locker room of the Swedish Women’s Volleyball team on Midsommarafton Eve. I’d need an hour and a quarter, at least, due to the language barrier. If I appear to be impugning the sacred bond between man and wife (or similar) understand it is not any personal antipathy. I am happy in my marriage, and I’m glad we did it. But marriage, historically speaking, is a frigging train wreck. Look at it this way: single people’s primary complaint is they’re lonely. Married people’s complaint is not only are they lonely, they’re not even allowed to date.
So when the pooves rise up and demand the right to get married, my first response is a harsh, croaking laugh. Then I dash my glass into the fire and stride the room, shadow leaping on the wall, spurs ringing against the flagstones of the cold floor. “Get married then, you unnatural dogs,” I snarl. “But don’t come crying to me when he won’t help with the dishes!” This should not be construed as a failure of sympathy toward either queer folk or married folk, or the newly minted queer married folk. We just need to understand that marriage itself is a flawed institution, unless you happen to be married to a wealthy heiress who enjoys physical fitness and swinger’s clubs. But this is not the issue. It doesn’t matter what marriage is or isn’t, in practice. The principle of marriage is what matters. Marriage is a binding commitment between two adult humans. Its intention is to link them inextricably, forever, as partners in this life, without resorting to manacles. The argument over gay marriage comes down to whether humans of the same sex are allowed to make this commitment. Why the hell not?
Some people say gay marriage is bad for the kiddies. Some people say it flies in the face of holy writ. Others say it makes them nauseous to see a man in a wedding dress. All of these rationales rise from the traditional oppression of homosexuality, which has nothing to do with anything except xenophobia. Modern Western culture frowns upon homos, regardless of their plumage, although lesbians in matched sets remain celebrated in that vast unsung subculture we call smut (and three cheers, I say). It’s okay to watch dolly omis on television do makeovers on real men so they can get girls. But the average American, confronted with an actual fruit in the same room who thinks he should start wearing pastels, will have a negative reaction, somewhere between rejection and vivisection. Queers are qualified to shop, play dress-up, and engage in all-girl romps because there aren’t any penises around. But they’re not qualified to shoot the marital rapids, because they’re not real people. They’re just half-people. They can date each other, decorate their apartments, have sex with us that one time in high school (swear to God, I was plastered), but Heaven forfend they should marry each other. Then they’d be officially sanctioned real people.
After all, what difference does it make if gay people get married? Are they more or less likely to raise lunatic kids than straight couples? Are they more or less likely to get divorced? Could they possibly cheat more than straight married people? Sure, their weddings will be better catered and they’ll turn school plays into Broadway productions, but can you really fault them for that? Objectively, gay couples are no more likely to make an utter hash of things than hetero couples. And regardless of objections by the puritanical breeders out there, gay couples won’t pervert their children into sex slaves, or attempt to convert them into little militant pansies. Quite the contrary: if you’ve spent your life as a pink pariah, the last thing in the world you would want to do is foist that nightmare on your kids. Being gay is like having leprosy: people may sympathize, they may even invite you out for drinks, but they won’t share your straw. You think the finooks would go around wishing that on their wee bairns? Damn. But enough with the rhetorical questions. The real problem, as noted above, has to do with the fundamentalist desire to have things a certain way, to achieve a state of perfect, white Christian heterosexual homogeneity. (Please send joke using word ‘homogeneity’ to Grunky The Clown, U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC, 20530-0001).
Queers today are where people of color ( see Crayola Crayon’s jumbo box for the color ‘peach’, which until 1962 was called ‘flesh’) were forty years ago: invited to the margins of the mainstream, guests at all the right parties, allowed to untrammel the vanguard of music, fashion, TV, and similar diversions-but excluded from the core of American life (and it’s all core at this point). Not that black people, for example, are actually included as of even date. I’m just making the point that mainstream America, meaning White European Males and the Women Who Tolerate Them, have spent several decades getting used to the idea of paying lip service–no minstrel jokes, please–to people of different genetic origins. Gay humans (of all colors) are forty years behind, but in this age of instant communication and an ever-shrinking world, they have every right to expect an accelerated progress toward acceptance by society at large, including enjoying the dubious privilege of marriage. If black people are allowed to vote (obviously excepting in Texas and Florida), shouldn’t gay people be allowed to marry? Another rhetorical question. It’s a curse. There is a myriad of arguments against this position, all of them coming down to the essential objection that the flits are delusional, and to let them get married would be in some way an endorsement of that delusion. As if anybody who believes in Revelations isn’t delusional, but that’s a horse of a different subject. The Right would have us believe that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice.
So how can I prove it isn’t? I could cite the medical science that has identified a queer gene, but naturally there are lots of studies aimed at disproving this science, so who the hell knows. I could point out that most gay people would rather not be objects of hatred, fear, and retribution, so the voluntary argument doesn’t hold up real well. In the end (same end, straight or gay, but facing different directions) the issue tends to settle on whether people are born gay or adopt a gay lifestyle (cf. Prince Albert piercing). Meanwhile some very clever sociologists have figured out it doesn’t matter in either case, because homosexuality is an adaptive behavior, and really people are not ‘queer’ or ‘straight’ at all, but predicate their sexual position (so to speak) on a variety of innate survival factors, such as the need for a supportive peer group or acceptance by an alpha male (top). Yet more other different even more clever researchers have figured out that what’s really going on is ‘sexual antagonism’, whereby a useful gene in females, for example (one that causes them to find men attractive) comes off as homosexuality when it shows up in males; presumably by extension non-heterosexual females are the ones who don’t have this gene. In other words, nobody has even the first iota of an inkling what they’re talking about. And it doesn’t matter.
Why should it make any difference whether homosexuality is innate or learned? So he runs like a girl, so what? She’s good at field hockey. What really matters is the more rhetorical questions you find yourself asking, or worse, me asking, the more evident it should become that the real issue lies not with homosexuals, but with the rest of us (I place myself in the heterosexual camp although I do watch decorating shows on cable). It is not my right to decide if somebody can get married or not. That’s their right. And serves them right if they do, too. I did warn them. I draw the line at adult humans, though, regardless of sexual orientation. People should not marry trees, quadrupeds, or vehicles, including light aircraft. As long as two consenting humans decide to get married, that’s their business, just as my decision to wear contrasting plaids is my business.
So here’s to San Francisco, where the queers are getting married in droves. May their courageous act of civil disobedience become a lesson to the masses, a scourge to the oppressors, and a beacon to the oppressed. May they remain married for as long as possible, as happy as they can manage. May death do them part only when they’re old and wattled. And may the rest of us figure out that fags are adult humans, too, complete, responsible, and entirely qualified to make the same terrible decisions as the rest of us. All I ask is that nobody call me a homo just because I cry at the wedding.
BEN TRIPP is a screenwriter and cartoonist. Ben also has a lot of outrageously priced crap for sale here. If his writing starts to grate on your nerves, buy some and maybe he’ll flee to Mexico. If all else fails, he can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org