Marriage And the Next Generation

The cover-story in today's NYT magazine is a vivid and fascinating encounter with the first generation of gay men who actually have the chance to marry in the same way and at the same time as their heterosexual peers. The silly photo-illustrations underline a very simple point: there is something very natural about wanting to turn one's sexual and emotional attraction to another human being into a lasting bond. Every connection is unique, and defies easy generalization, but the themes are universal: securing love, seeking stable companionship, integrating into one's own family, building a home and a future with another person. The NYT's wedding section has an example of exactly such a moment:

“It was pretty simple,” Mr. Self said. “We were both at that point in life when we had dated a lot of people and were looking for a partner to be able to build a life with and not just date casually.” The couple discussed their future together.

“Did we want to have a family? Did we want to stay in New York? What did we want to do with our careers? How did we feel about monogamy?” Mr. Self recalled of their questions to each other. “And it became very clear to us that we were on the same page.” After eight months they moved in together in Brooklyn Heights...

Mr. Fraley said they wanted to formalize their union before considering having children. “We have very traditional New York City family values,” Mr. Fraley said.

It's important to remember when you read of such self-evidently constructive relationships that they are banned in 40 states, and that the president of the United States believes that they are destructive of family life. In fact, one political party is now dedicated to demonizing these people and denying them basic legal protections and validity. Targeting these couples as examples of moral degeneracy is given legitimacy by the Pope himself. And preventing them from having civil equality is now a core plank of the Republican party. Ask yourself: are these couples in any way hurting anyone? How can they ever be understood as threat to anyone else's relationship or marriage or family? It makes no sense at all.

All one can say is that at some point in the future, sane people of all political persuasions will see this current Republican and Catholic and Fundamentalist orthodoxy as the mean-spirited madness it is. Meanwhile, those of us building these families will carry on. It's encouraging to see so many unintimidated by the campaign of hatred and obloquy directed toward them. Rock on, guys. And don't let the haters get you down.