A Word in Edgewise: A Defense of Marriage

In June 2008, I attended the First (and the Last) Annual Celebration of Marriage in Palm Springs. It was impossible to remain dry-eyed as couples just-paired to partners of decades were able to legally marry in California.

It was nearly impossible to remain dry-eyed that November as Californians voted in Prop 8 and stopped the gay marriage flow. This February 8, a federal appeals court declared Prop 8 unconstitutional, forcing supporters to ask for a larger panel of the Ninth Circuit United States Court of Appeals to take up the case, or choose to appeal directly to the Supreme Court.

The violence and determination with which one sector of United States citizens fights to curb the rights of another is disheartening, as is the fact that the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) still stands.

In the latest on that front, DOMA was also declared unconstitutional by Judge Jeffrey White in a California suit filed by Karen Golinski, who sued after the U.S. Office of Personnel Management refused to provide health coverage for her legal wife. Three GOP congressional leaders are now appealing that ruling.

And what is this Marriage they are fighting to defend? Surely not the current one, where nearly half of the unions between members of the opposite sex are dissolving?

Here Come the Brides (see Books) reveals in first-person accounts what at least these lesbians are looking for, and it turns out to be what I posit that gays–or any other marriage-minded humans–are looking for: Another human (not their pet) to legally wed; to share the future, make a life, be with in the end. With children, or without; not all op-sex married couples choose to produce them, either.

As Susan Goldberg, one of the Brides brides whose mom died just before the wedding after the celebrants had assembled, said, “And that’s the thing about weddings: “Done right, they bring together more than two people. They knit families and friends together, make us collectively stronger. And that’s why, for me at least, the issue of gay marriage resonates: The human rights it protects and enshrines extend beyond the two brides or two grooms to their parents, their siblings, their communities.”

Now, in my book, that’s a defense of marriage.

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