Posted by: facetothewind | August 13, 2003

Gay Marriage in America – for NPR

Commentary written and recorded for Day2Day on NPR at KQED. Never aired.

As pollsters and politicians whip America into a frenzied debate over the legitimacy of gay relationships, we need to look at the core value systems of America that began with the Puritans leaving England because it was not conservative enough. America is the country that has burned witches, outlawed alcohol and criminalized consensual non-procreative sex in its short 227 years. While Europe watched in disbelief, America is the country that impeached a 2 term president for complications resulting from an act that most people have committed or have had committed upon them in the privacy of their bedrooms.

Of course, it’s not surprising to me then, that many Americans should find it too confrontational as gay people approach the altar seeking the sanctity of a marriage contract. This simple act of commitment seeks to rip the covers off that which the average American would rather not see. I mean, how could generations of blue-haired ladies watch Liberace with his outrageous flamboyance failing to take notice of his sexuality. Well, Liberace never attempted to marry his “special friend.” He lived in silence and fear of discovery, a solo act, at least in public.

We gay Americans have been banished to the flamboyant margins of America. As long as we’re wacky creators, larger than life, festooned and ready to paint your bathroom periwinkle, even kiss at the podium of the Tony awards, we’re acceptable. But the moment we accede to accept our place at the table – to covet something so ordinary and apple pie as getting hitched in a church, requires that the American citizenry must stop to consider us as legitimate sexual beings, not wiped out by AIDS.

So, of course there’s going to be a backlash. It’s the next step in our evolution. And yours. Straight America cannot ignore the value it has gotten and will get from the gay civil rights movement. The next generation is already hip to this as they sport their tattoos, nose rings and sometimes androgynous, sexually label-free ways. The previous generations still see open discussions of sexuality, emotion, and sensitivity as being anathema to a productive career denuding their own oppression, slavery, and time spent in servitude at the mill.

But times have changed. America is not the buttoned up industrial economy that it was last century. Its tightly tied cravats have been loosened. All it takes is a visit to Silicon Valley to see how many people walk through the corporate hallways in shorts and flip flops. Nearly 200 of the Fortune 500 corporations already have domestic partner benefits.

The genie is not going back in the bottle. But it doesn’t mean some people aren’t going to try. What the anti-gay activists have yet to discover is that if we are to go back to a time of silence, suppression and quiet suffering…to a time when our love dare not speak its name…then you dare not speak our name now. Because of the very nature and statistical occurrence of homosexuality in the human population, we have already infiltrated your church, your corporation, and your schools. And each time you cry out against our newfound freedoms, you have further fueled our cause. So, straight America, sit back, relax and enjoy having that cultural makeover. Its been long overdue.


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