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When I got back from my trip and heard the news about the decision of the California Supreme Court, it hurt to see basic civil rights take a huge step backward. It was comforting to read posts by Levo and Betty. To their conversation, then, I'd like to add this:
I'd like to get married.
I'm not talking about tomorrow, or next week or next month, or anything like that. That would put far too much pressure on my friend Elizabeth who is charged with choosing what clothes I'm going to wear for such a blessed occasion, and considering she has a repair person coming somewhere between 8 and 12 Noon (which, as we all know, means between 8 and whenever), me getting married tomorrow (which would be Thursday the 4th of June) is simply out of the question.
But one day, it'd be nice to say, Yes, I'm married, and to Her (we'll capitalize, and make a third character in this story, as myself and Elizabeth have already occupied the first and second character roles).
Now, we'll ignore for a moment the fact that if this scenario were to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, or even next year, and I still lived in the state of Pennsylvania, I would be legally prohibited from doing so. And we'll not belabor the point that this is incredibly ridiculous--I should be given just as much an opportunity to legally wreak havoc (if it turned out that way, that is to say) on the institution of marriage as any Britney Spears who goes, intoxicated, to Vegas, gets married on a whim and then realizes her mistake and asks for an annulment.
I mean, granted, I'm gay, but I've been intoxicated before, and going to an all-night Vegas wedding chapel with a boy just because it seems like a fun thing to do really has never crossed my mind. Honestly.
While the Supreme Court of California's support of Proposition 8 is saddening, we can look towards the state of New Hampshire, which today legalized gay marriage, as a beacon of hope. New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch apparently heard "compelling arguments that a separate system is not an equal system" says The New York Times. Rightly so, but this whole notion of "separate but equal" really not being for us isn't exactly new. Fifty-five years have passed since the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, wherein Chief Justice Warren, writing in the Court's unanimous opinion, says, "We conclude that in the field of public education, the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place." Today, sadly, we still must claim that separate is not equal, and that separate but equal should still have no place in our society. Then again, while we may have corrected our mistakes about racial segregation in public schools, we still have a long way to go to declare our public education system sound and really, honestly, fair. If, as a nation, we were on Facebook, we'd become a fan of "rights and responsibilities," but admittedly, it takes us quite a long time for everything to come 'round right.
In their joint editorial in The New York Times from June 3rd, Gail Collins and David Brooks debate three main social issues of our day in a piece aptly titled "Guns, Gays, and Abortion." Interestingly, both Collins and Brooks assert that Americans are becoming more comfortable with the idea of civil unions or gay marriage, as if the granting and securing of basic rights were the same as settling in to a favorite easy-chair in a living room. While there may be a touch of cynicism in my comparison, perhaps they are onto something: maybe if more people see the apocalypse isn't coming any faster with the extension of marital rights to same-sex couples, more people will warm to the idea. Perhaps if people see that gays and lesbians aren't trying to shove their relationships in faces of those who disagree, but rather they simply want the legal ability to visit their partner in the hospital if they get sick or make medical decisions for them if they are unable, perhaps then the idea won't be so scary. I'm not saying my hypothetical marriage would be any better than someone else's (maybe flashier, as the gays are known for their flash, or so they say), but rather it would be nice to have the same opportunity as most everyone else.
New Hampshire is the latest state to affirm that at its most basic, marriage is not about a religious ceremony or the fee you pay to clerk of courts for a marriage license. But rather, that marriage is about respect: for yourself, for another person, and for love, in all of its forms.