Friday, March 2, 2012

A Good Day for Maryland

So, yeah, the Maryland legislative and executive branches did the gays a solid this week, and same-gender marriage is legal, at least for now, in the state of Maryland. This is good news.

I don't generally get into the whole gay marriage issue/debate/brouhaha for at least two reasons:

1. Debate? What's to debate? Of course we should have the same marriage rights as anyone else. It's clear to anyone with an ounce of sense that all of the arguments against gay marriage really boil down to: ewwww, we don't like homos, so let's not give them rights. And, hey, if that's your position, fine, but own it.

2. Marriage is something I've done (albeit with a woman), and I sort of feel like it's one of those things where you get one bite at the apple. I don't mean that second marriages should be legally discouraged or that they're morally wrong, but I just feel kind of been-there-done-that. Mind you, my feelings on that issue could change if I met Mr. Right, but in this case, Mr. Right is probably someone who's loaded and doesn't have any heirs, rather than someone with a six-pack and unlimited endurance. And, here again, I want to be clear. I certainly value love and intimacy, but you don't need to be married or even partnered for that. The only part of being single that really bothers me is the economic inefficiency. If I had someone companionable to share bills, housework, and travel with, I wouldn't necessarily require any great romantic fervor or sexual fidelity. And I wouldn't need a marriage. You'll just have to trust me when I tell you that my position here is pragmatic rather than cynical: I still find it very touching when any two people tie the knot. Just like I still find it very touching when people have children, but, as much as I love my own, I don't want any more.

But my own personal disinterest in being married aside, I still think it's pretty cool that the legislature here managed to pass a bill giving me and people like me some of the rights that we deserve. I haven't read the bill, but I understand that there are exclusions so that churches who view same-gender unions as an abomination aren't forced to perform marriages. I suppose that's a good thing, but I really wonder about the necessity. Are there really gay couples who are so driven by political rather than emotional agenda that they'd insist on being married in a church that disapproves of them? Maybe there are, but that seems pretty moronic to me.

For a long while, I've felt that church and state should be entirely separated when it comes to marriage. There are certain important legal protections, and to get those protections, you should have a civil marriage. Line up at a government office, sign some documents, and -- shazam! -- you're legal partners. And then if it's important to you to profess your relationship in front of your community, then, fine, go find a church and do that. The thing is, for a long while now, there have been churches willing and eager to stop doing commitment ceremonies and start doing marriages for gay couples. My own church and minister, for example, would be thrilled (thrilled!) to give their imprimatur to a gay wedding, and if such is still allowed as of next year, I imagine there'll be a few. (There's a lesbian couple of long duration in the choir, and I have no idea whether they've already married somewhere else, but one presumes that if they're not, they might get married at the church. They're both lovely people, but one of them is a soprano, and the other is an alto, so God only knows how they manage to make it work. That would be like me marrying a tenor, and, well: ewwww! Talk about unnatural.)

Speaking of churches, one of the reasons that legalizing same-gender marriage was relatively difficult in Maryland was because of the opposition of Black churches and Black Democrats. I find this very disappointing. When I was dating That Guy (who, really, was not all that religious, but liked to go to church on occasion because, let's face it, the Black churches have all the best speakers; also, really great music) he would tell me about what a wonderful experience he'd had listening to this preacher or that, and I'd ask him what that preacher's position on gay marriage was, and then there'd be an argument. And, well, I'm just going to go there: a lot of the opposition -- and, especially, the fervor of the opposition -- to gay marriage among Black ministers has less to do with Biblical commandments than it does to the fact that so many ministers like some man-on-man action on the DL. I guess that's where they find common ground with Republicans. Oh, the hypocrisy.


I sort of felt like there really wasn't anywhere near the media coverage of the Maryland law as there has been in other states. I mean, sure, there were a few reports, when the House of Delegates finally passed the bill, and when the Governor signed it. You had the usual clip from a lesbian couple with two children who are -- justifiably -- happy that they now have official recognition, and you had a bit of the hand wringing of the usual suspects about how Western civilization just lost another cornerstone blah blah blah will no one think of the children blah blah blah. But overall, the coverage was kind of low key, and maybe that's a good thing: it's just not such big news any more when one more state gives us the rights that everyone else has.

Or at least that we might have next January 1, if the likely referendum doesn't take them away from us. You'd like to think that a state as reliably liberal and Democratic as Maryland wouldn't vote to take us backwards, but, well, the Black churches will certainly be turning their members out. I have not so much as lifted my iPhone in the movement towards marriage equality, but I reckon that if someone's going to try to take a right -- even one that I don't intend to exercise -- away from me, then I'm going to have to do something. "Doing something" may just be writing a check, but I suppose I might finally be persuaded to do more than that.

By the way, I would be remiss to not mention how this is yet another example of how Maryland rules and Virginia drools. The Virginia gays who ignore the land of equality and instead choose to support a state that amended its constitution to deny them rights and wants to require invasive ultrasounds for women getting an abortion so that they could pay a few percent less in taxes must be SO PROUD (or maybe GOProud) right now. Y'all can bite me.


  1. The idea that the new Maryland law allowing gay marriages needs to exempt churches from having to marry people of the same sex is dumb. No church or minister can be forced to marry any couple they don't want to marry. If you're a Jew (or even an Episcopalian) no Catholic church will marry you. Even if you're a Catholic, you don't get a free marriage coupon when they pass the collection plate.....Tork