I attended a wedding last weekend, the wedding of a very, very good friend. [disclaimer: I have no objection at all to her getting married, and I am in no way criticizing her, or anyone else, for choosing to get married].
As I was driving to the reception (a 3-hour trip), I had a sudden flash of unease. In my rearview mirror, I can see (reflected properly, so it's perfectly legible and not mirror-writing) the sticker I got a few weeks ago from a gay-rights group. The sticker is a little lame - it says: I (heart) (heart) [images of hearts), and below, says: i support gay marriage. The I heart love sentiment is a little goopy for my personal tastes, but since I do indeed support gay marriage, i figure it's a sticker my car can wear with pride.
Anyway, I hadn't - until that moment in the car - made the connection between my friend's wedding, and the movement for gay marriage equality. For one very small second, I felt actually sick, thinking about how easy it is for my friend to get married, have this big party with dinner and dancing and cupcakes and a legal document from the state, and the blessing of her church, that officially seals the deal. I wonder - though I probably won't ask, and again, am not criticizing for it - I wonder if, as she made her reception plans, she ever thought about how many people are not allowed this "privilege."
I wonder how many brides or grooms think of this. Getting married and having a wedding/reception seems like the most obvious, natural thing to do, doesn't it? Like why should you stop and be thankful or grateful that you're allowed to do this thing that is simply plastered everywhere in our culture?
I've never been especially interested in a wedding for myself. I don't have big fantasy wedding plans in my head. once, someone asked me what kind of wedding i'd have, what kind and color dresses would the bridesmaids wear - and I was utterly stumped. I don't think I'd HAVE any bridesmaids. or a wedding at all. But hypothetically, if I was in a position where marriage was on the table - I wonder if I could do it, when I know that thousands of people aren't permitted to - are, in fact, explicitly prohibited from doing so? I had this funny/wry moment when I thought: "Oh my god! Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are right - I get why they won't get married!" (both have explained their refusal to get married as a kind of protest, a refusal to participate in a culture that denies marriage rights to everyone).
I do not think I have ever in my life understood how Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie might feel.
But then I wonder: is this like - oh, say, eating the big feasty dinner on thanksgiving? or eating, at all - food is a fundamental human right (not that the US has signed on, but the United Nations declaration of human rights tells us that food, and education, is a basic human right). But there are millions of people around the world who daily go hungry. Does this mean I should refrain from eating, or eating luxuriously (going out for dinner, eating elaborate or large meals, even ordering pizza or eating sweets, those empty calories)??
why/is marriage any different?
At one point, another friend mentioned his ability to tie a bow tie. I wondered when that skill could ever possibly come in handy in my own life; he (jokingly) replied: "If you're ever part of a lesbian wedding."
and it made me think, again: But lesbians can't get married. And I thought of my good friend, who is a lesbian, and how unlikely it is that I will attend a wedding for her that looks like the wedding for my friend who just got married. At least, not in the very near future.
I don't know. Maybe things are looking up. Facebook users, in a recent poll, overwhelmingly polled both that gay marriage should be legal, and that gay couples should be allowed to adopt children. But the Facebook users of the world are not, mainly, the people in power. And the people who are not gay activists, but who - like the Facebook crew - think gay marriage should be legal are not at all strident and vocal, as are the opponents of gay marriage.
I also thought, briefly, of Martin Luther King Jr's "Letter from Birmingham Jail." I've heard many people - family and friends included - say that the time isn't right just yet for gay marriage to be legalized. That it's coming, but "they" (meaning, I think, the very visible, vocal, very queer, gay marriage activists) need to just wait.
King writes, in his letter, that "For years now I have heard the word "Wait!"... This "Wait" has almost always meant "Never." We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that "justice too long delayed is justice denied." "
And I can't help but agree with him. It's very, very easy to say "wait" or "don't be so pushy about it," when you're wearing a white wedding dress, and the marriage license is signed and sealed.
But when that license is forbidden to you....how easy is "wait" then? how much like "never" does it sound?