Monthly Archives: November 2003

Well folks, it’s official. We’ve won the same-sex marriage debate. The proof? In his latest NYT Op-ed David Brooks comes out in favor of it.

But let’s look this Trojan Horse in the mouth, shall we?

Anybody who has several sexual partners in a year is committing spiritual suicide.

Yes, Our Miss Brooks wrote that. It’s his very opening line.

But wait — there’s more! For in sentence two he declares –

He or she is ripping the veil from all that is private and delicate in oneself, and pulverizing it in an assembly line of selfish sensations.

As Auntie Mame would say, How vivid.

Hold the phone! “Several sexual partners in a year ? Hell some of us have had several sexual partners in an hour!

And no, I’m not just talking about The Creature From the Blog Lagoon, who has greeted this Brooks-bleat with declarations of “awe” — but not “shock.”

And that’s to be expected. For while Ol’ Milky Loads can count on Brooksie turning a blind eye to his own sexual practices (recently detailed in that most illuminating documentary The Gift) he knows that William Safire’s NYT heir won’t spare those Politically Incorrect same-enthusiasts who decline to toe the party line. Consequently Dan Savage is safe, but Gore Vidal is not — particularly for his essay Pink Triangle and Yellow Star (cross-referenced here in an ever-so-slightly-different context)

But back to Brooks who’s just getting up a head of steam (and we’re only two sentences in!) about those veil-rippers.

But marriage is the opposite. Marriage joins two people in a sacred bond. It demands that they make an exclusive commitment to each other and thereby takes two discrete individuals and turns them into kin.

The kin part is right, the rest is poppycock for reasons that I’ve outlined quite recently.

Marriage is a contract recognized by the state by which two individuals are regarded as a single entity for purposes of the distribution of property.

Period.

Few of us work as hard at the vocation of marriage as we should. But marriage makes us better than we deserve to be.

Now this is really something. We have to “work” at a contract we purchase for our own benefit? And on top of that we don’t “deserve” it? No doubt Brooksie is an S&M adept. But does it follow that he should extend his desire for humiliation to the entire world?

As we used to say in the West Village, How Rude!

Even in the chores of daily life, married couples find themselves, over the years, coming closer together, fusing into one flesh.

Yuck! Wouldn’t a nice pair of matching tattoos be simpler?

Married people who remain committed to each other find that they reorganize and deepen each other’s lives. They may eventually come to the point when they can say to each other: “Love you? I am you.”

Well Mr. and Mrs. Robert Musil were certainly like that, but I can’t really think of another example outside of Comden and Green. And they weren’t married to each other — which is doubtless why Christopher Durang’s Sister Mary Ignatius has them on the short list for Hell.

Today marriage is in crisis. Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. Worse, in some circles, marriage is not even expected. Men and women shack up for a while, produce children and then float off to shack up with someone else.

Newt Gingrich’s ears must be burning over that one.

Marriage is in crisis because marriage, which relies on a culture of fidelity, is now asked to survive in a culture of contingency.

“Now”? Surely not. Divorce isn’t something they invented in the 60′s — that Demon Decade reactionary dweebs like Brooksie and Sully are forever up in arms about. Has he ever heard of Henry the VIII ?

Today, individual choice is held up as the highest value: choice of lifestyles, choice of identities, choice of cellphone rate plans.

The last being of course the hardest to deal with.

Freedom is a wonderful thing, but the culture of contingency means that the marriage bond, which is supposed to be a sacred vow till death do us part, is now more likely to be seen as an easily canceled contract.

But it is a contract Brooksie — it is a contract!

(Good grief, now he’s got me doing Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? ! How Gay is that!)

Men are more likely to want to trade up, when a younger trophy wife comes along.

Rupert Murdoch’s ears are burning too.

Men and women are quicker to opt out of marriages, even marriages that are not fatally flawed, when their “needs” don’t seem to be met at that moment.

Your point?

Still, even in this time of crisis, every human being in the United States has the chance to move from the path of contingency to the path of marital fidelity; except homosexuals. Gays and lesbians are banned from marriage and forbidden to enter into this powerful and ennobling institution. A gay or lesbian couple may love each other as deeply as any two people, but when you meet a member of such a couple at a party, he or she then introduces you to a “partner,” a word that reeks of contingency.

Like the proverbial stopped clock, Brooksie at last says something to which I heartily concur. I loathe the term “partner” ! Law firms have partners. My boyfriend (of 31 years and counting) is not a law firm!

You would think that faced with this marriage crisis, we conservatives would do everything in our power to move as many people as possible from the path of contingency to the path of fidelity. But instead, many argue that gays must be banished from matrimony because gay marriage would weaken all marriage. A marriage is between a man and a woman, they say. It is women who domesticate men and make marriage work.
Well, if women really domesticated men, heterosexual marriage wouldn’t be in crisis. In truth, it’s moral commitment, renewed every day through faithfulness, that “domesticates” all people.

Does it now? And what’s this “faithfulness” bit? Do you really imagine that I have spent 31 years of my life with the same person in thrall to an obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Cause that’s what sexual “fidelity” is, bucko!

Some conservatives may have latched onto biological determinism (men are savages who need women to tame them) as a convenient way to oppose gay marriage. But in fact we are not animals whose lives are bounded by our flesh and by our gender. We’re moral creatures with souls, endowed with the ability to make covenants, such as the one Ruth made with Naomi: “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried.”

Yes we all know about those girls, Brooksie —
the Ellens of their day
.

The conservative course is not to banish gay people from making such commitments. It is to expect that they make such commitments.

That’s right folks. We should be the best Imitation Heterosexuals that we can be.

We shouldn’t just allow gay marriage. We should insist on gay marriage.

Insist?

We should regard it as scandalous that two people could claim to love each other and not want to sanctify their love with marriage and fidelity.

In other words, out of the closet and into the. . .dining area.

When liberals argue for gay marriage, they make it sound like a really good employee benefits plan. Or they frame it as a civil rights issue, like extending the right to vote.

Yep. Cause that’s what it is. An option — not an imperative.

Marriage is not voting.

Well that’s a relief! I for one certainly don’t want to marry Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It’s going to be up to conservatives to make the important, moral case for marriage, including gay marriage. Not making it means drifting further into the culture of contingency, which, when it comes to intimate and sacred relations, is an abomination.

An “abomination”? Yes, it’s our old friend Leviticus. Who knew he’d come back from the beyond to write for the NYT?

Obviously they had to do something to stem the tide of Liberal Evil created by Paul Krugman.

But shouldn’t this all be in the “Style” section? Consider in the very same issue of the NYT this piece about Gay Marriage ceremonies by intrepid “Weddings and Celebrations” scribe Lois Smith Brady.

Marcy Blum, a longtime wedding planner in Manhattan, recalled that a decade ago or more, when gay couples celebrated their unions, most of the guests were gay. All straight traditions were thrown out or mocked. “It was like going to the baths when Bette Midler would sing there,” she said, adding that the couple wore whatever they well pleased, “heels if they were men. It was a big, fun, campy thing. Now, it’s just as serious as a traditional straight wedding.”

Well that’s a shame. Likewise her observation that straights outnumber gays at such ceremonies — indicating that they’re little more than spectacles for straights to enjoy. Upper-class Minstrel Shows as it were.

Needless to say there are many, many, MANY gay and lesbian people with different ideas about how to live and love. But there’s a Straight Eye for the Queer Guy in operation at the moment, as Brady makes clear in one telling line:

The most remarkable thing about Mr. Tutero and his partner, he added, is that they met while crossing a New York City street — not that they’re two guys.

“While crossing the street”? Now how Gay is that?

Don’t ask!

(I won’t tell.)