Hmm, as I'm sure most of you have read by now, San Francisco became the same sex wedding capital of the world recently, with more than 2,300 couples being married since Thursday, starting with Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, who have been lesbian activists since the 50s and a couple for 51 years.
Sadly, I have been laid up with an illness all week, so I didn't get to see any of the celebration firsthand. The closest I got was being on a bus going past City Hall, with its line of hopeful couples snaking down the stairs, and around the corner and block. I was headed to a movie, one of my only outings all week, and the level of physical activity for which I was only capable.
But there is an amazing energy in the city right now. Something palpable. It has really changed my mind on the marriage issue from just a nice notion to a requirement for equality. I used to drift between the idea that gay relationships were stronger and somehow more pure because they existed by virtue of desire and love, rather than some legal shackle -- gay couples remained together because they wanted to, not because they had to.
I've also thought the way around the gay marriage debate was decoupling the notion of tax breaks for marriage and children. I mean, on some level, why should I be subsidizing this, if I will never benefit? So, you have three kids and the same salary as me? Too bad, we should pay the same amount of taxes.
Then, there is the whole question of whether we should ape patriarchal social structures that have repressed women for ages, etc.
But, I think recent events are repositioning the marriage debate. Let's point out the conflict between people arguing for strong marriages and agsinst the notion of people wanting to share their lives. Let's stop the hypocrisy of people like Clinton, Gingrich, and other adulterers and divorcees in office talking about the sanctity of marriage. Or, let's make them harder to get out of if they are so sacred, and not just something Britney Spears can do and dump over the weekend when she's bored and drunk in vegas.
The issue is pure equality. The difference between us continuing to drink from the "homos only" civil union drinking fountain while all the straight people drink from the marriage oe right next to it.
I think this is going to be a huge issue in the presidential race, although there are no clear winners as every candidate is against gay marriage. But they will all have to talk about it nonetheless, and their answers are upsetting different people across their voting bases. Bush supporting an amendment to federalize gay discrimination (and the language is clearly designed to gut all civil unions on the state level) will get him the religious right, but lose him the people who want less government and more power at the state level (which Bush has always agreed with, until states started doing things he disagreed with). Kerry is against marriage, against the Constitutional amendment, but for civil unions. Dean... well, damn, is he even still in the race? We'll know more this week...
It's definitely an interesting time.
Andrew Sullivan put it in beautiful words on his blog: "The debate will become how to tear gay couples apart, how to demean and marginalize them, rather than an abstract debate about theories of marriage."
UPDATE: Great first person account and photos here.