Tears shed because marriage is personal

Posted on 11 Dec 2009 at 12:40am
By Jennifer Vanasco Jennifer.Vanasco@gmail.com

NOM leader’s failed relationship, out-of-wedlock child seem to be fueling her battle against marriages she doesn’t like


FIGHTING TEARS | Same-sex marriage supporters in Maine console each other after defeat in a November ballot initiative. (Associated Press)

I bet that not a single gay marriage opponent would have cried if equal marriage had triumphed in the New York Senate last week.

They would have been angry, sure. They would have moaned about the "demise" of the traditional family.

Perhaps they would have even been afraid.

But sad to the point of tears? No.

That’s because marriage equality is not personal for them. Not in the way it’s personal for us.

Last week, there were plenty of tears from those in Times Square protesting the New York Senate’s vote against our families, and plenty of anger in Union Square the next evening. I wound up crying into my partner’s coat while she held the umbrella over both of us, shielding us from the rain.

Christine Quinn — New York City Council speaker, open lesbian and equal marriage advocate — cried, too. Tearing up, she said in a press conference, "What I care about is my life isn’t any better today."

As I’m writing this, a decision hasn’t been made yet in New Jersey. Though I hope for a positive outcome, I’m preparing myself for the opposite.

The people over at the National Organization for Marriage, of course, think equal marriage is personal. That’s why they’re fighting so hard to keep us from marrying.

I’ve met Maggie Gallagher, NOM’s president, and she told me that she had her first child out of wedlock when she was at Yale. The father didn’t stick around and didn’t marry her — and basically, it seems to me that it became her life’s work to find out why.

Her research into marriage and strong marriages and why people get married at all has somehow been perverted into fighting against marriages she doesn’t like.

She seems to feel that gay people are so icky, and young men are so against the idea of marriage, that if gay people can get married then young straight men will decide that marriage is even grosser than they originally thought.

This is clearly not the case. Marriage is not a fashion trend.

Sure, a young man might not want the same pair of sneakers his grandmother wears. He might not even want to buy something he considers to be a gay sneaker. (Honestly, I have no idea what that would be. This is just an analogy.)

But whether he likes gay people or not won’t deter him from buying into marriage.

People don’t decide against marriage because they don’t like the kinds of people who get married. They decide against marriage because they think it’s patriarchal, or because they feel like they don’t have enough money to help support someone, or because they simply don’t like the person they’re dating enough to marry them.

On the other hand, there are people who are so invested in marriage that we will attend protest after protest and write letter after letter just to win the right to marry.

Those people are us.

We will not be deterred from marriage by recent losses in Maine and New York. We will not be deterred by the opposition’s strategy to paint us as a bad influence on children.

And we will not be deterred from marriage just because people who disgust us — for example, those who run the National Organization for Marriage, socially conservative Republicans and hypocritical religious leaders — also get married.

For us, this is personal. We want to marry the people we love.

And because it is this personal — because we cry every time we lose — we will keep fighting until we win. •

Jennifer Vanasco is an award-winning syndicated columnist. Follow her at Twitter.com/JenniferVanasco

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 11, 2009.

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