why you should give a damn about gay marriage
BY STEFFEN SILVIS
At first glance it looks like the curse of tardiness. Davina Kotulski's helpful primer on gay marriage hit the press prior to the revolution breaking out in San Francisco (her native city) and Portland (ours). But though recent events will be missing from her primary arguments, the absence will in no way invalidate her message: Gays and lesbians deserve full equality now.
Kotulski wrote Why You Should Give a Damn about Gay Marriage for three groups of people: the committed (who are, as I write this, marching bravely to the altar), the straight but not narrow (best wishes, Ms. Linn and Co.) and those queers, such as myself, who have long looked disdainfully upon gay marriage as a plot to domesticate our uniqueness. Although I have lingering fears that this part of our struggle for rights might propel Bush and the Paleolithic evangelicals back into power, Kotulski (along with a few wedding receptions last week) has convinced me that this is a cause worth fighting for.
Kotulski rigorously marshals her facts both to promote a wider definition of marriage and to respond to many of society's fears (all of which are either baseless or born of ignorance). Her case begins with rights: "There are more than 1,049 federal rights that accompany civil marriage, and some additional 300 per state." These are rights that cover medical emergencies, taxes, insurance, inheritance, burial decisions and such trivialities as frequent-flier programs. Even the right not to testify against one's spouse is denied queers, as Rosie O'Donnell and her now-wife Kelli bitterly discovered in recent legal battles.
Kotulski emphasizes each of the legal problems that queers face with traumatic stories from real people who were left without recourse when partners were severely injured or killed, such as that of a homophobic father actually carrying his son's body off for a funeral that would exclude his son's long-term partner. This litany of abuse should put the lie to the idea that what we are demanding is "special rights." Still, never underestimate the viciousness of the severely religious.
"What do a serial rapist, a murderer, a child pornographer, a lifer, and an armed bank robber share in common?" asks Kotulski. "As long as they are heterosexual, they can all get married in prison." Kotulski has much to say about the "sacredness" of heterosexual marriage; after all, "gay people did not invent the term wife-swapping."
It's depressing that in the 21st century, and in what is purportedly a secular country, that we are forced to entertain the views of an opiated mass of Baptists, brandishing the storybook of their sky god as if such ravings had relevance in rational discourse. Yet we must. Marriage is for procreation? "What about a man who wants to marry a post-menopausal woman?" asks Kotulski, or "a woman who marries a man with a vasectomy? Should these marriages be annulled?" There are also the fatuous Christian claims that gay marriage will pry open the lock on incest and polygamy, though the former is excoriated in the Bible unless it's between fathers and daughters, and the latter was practiced quite freely by David and Abraham, two of Jehovah's favorites. The "saved" should try and save themselves.
Kotulski ends by supplying helpful outlines of letters to send our elected officials on the subject of marriage as well as an international guide to where in the world civilized minds have triumphed. "Gay marriage is gay liberation," Kotulski stresses. Her book proves that it's also a victory for human rights. I see that now.