Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Gay


The Supreme Court of Massachusetts has just ruled that restricting marriage to heterosexual couples violates the rights of gay and lesbian people, to much media fanfare, conservative vows to pass a constitutional amendment in defense of the family, and everything everyone could have predicted.

I still do not get why this is all taken to be such a significant issue--why the majority of Americans, including some who support arrangements that would give same sex couples all the legal benefits of marriage, balk at the idea of gay marriage. On the other hand the idea of gay pride celebrations and gay TV networks seem as bizarre as comparable institutions for chocolate lovers, stamp collectors or Mac enthusiasts. However, given that conservatives make such a fuss about homosexuality, I suppose it may be understandable.

Why do they make such a fuss? And why is it packaged as a defense of the family?

The only thing I can think is that they imagine the world will become like the beach during Spring Break, a meat market where they aren't welcome, and that conventional families will become anomalous. On TV families are already a quasi-joke, like mother-in-laws, suitable for cartoons--The Simpsons, King of the Hill. Shows with live actors focus around the office and the after work bar, featuring 20 or 30 something characters, none of whom are married with children.

I suppose I see their point. Almost everyone growing up in the '50s felt odd, and bad, because their family wasn't precisely like Dick and Jane, or Father Knows Best, or the Donna Reed Show. No one had the whole package--white picket fence, paper route, mom who cooked wearing high heels and pearls. We couldn't get it and we didn't want it and we were ashamed and angry about what we felt was our failure because it was so iconic. Maybe that is why the '60s happened.

Now the icon is a world of adults, where no one marries or is given in marriage, working at generic white collar jobs, living in urban apartments, forever 27 with dates every Saturday night. We're angry and ashamed because we can't get it and don't want it, and the "gay lifestyle" is the limiting case--the icon of the new millenium.

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