In case you missed it, former Congressman Barney Frank, an avowed liberal crusader during his time in office, representing a district in Massachusetts, married Jim Ready, his long-time love, yesterday. This riled up ultra-conservative experts on marital matters. After all, as they like to point out, gay marriage is a threat to:
A) Every straight person's marriage;
D) All morality;
E) Everything else good and true: including love for mothers, respect for the flag, and cuddly puppies.
A notice about the nuptials, in the New York Times, included these details:
Mr. Frank, 72, and Mr. Ready, 42, were married in Newton, Mass., part of Mr. Frank’s district, on Saturday in a low-key ceremony on the banks of the Charles River. Gov. Deval L. Patrick of Massachusetts officiated. The guests included Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, as well as Senator John Kerry and Representatives Dennis J. Kucinich and Steny H. Hoyer.
THAT'S RIGHT. IT TOOK FIVE MINUTES to doom civilization as we know it and insure that the wrath of God would soon rain down upon our collective national head.
Mr. Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, became, in 1987, the first sitting member of Congress to volunteer that he was gay. He is now the first to be married to a partner of the same sex. Both bridegrooms said they recognized the historical significance of the ceremony, which lasted less than five minutes. Gov. Patrick told the guests that Mr. Frank had requested that the service “be short and to the point.”
When Americans Against the Tea Party posted a link on their Facebook page, messages were mostly congratulatory (it's a liberal site) but also elicited a few examples of solid, patriotic conservative thought:
Pam J-------S--- commented: "this is a sin.god says so he needs to step down." (You can read that to mean "God" should step down, of course, but let's assume she meant Mr. Frank, who left Congress some time ago.)
Jeremy V-- E-- had this to say (although it was a little hard to follow his logic):
Another raw fact: Religion is a personal freedom, of which marriage was born into. The tax breaks that come from it are religious freedom acknowledgments. So to demand "equal and fair rights" would be to create your own religion for same sex marriage* But nothing of that sort has been created for same sex...
Meanwhile, Moses M---- captured the essence of anti-gay philosophy when he responded, "PUKE how freakin nasty !!!."
It seemed possible that the voice of conservatism might sound more impressive if I tried a different site. So I switched to the feed from Yahoo on the story and the first comment was from some modest fellow who posted as "Mr Good-Lookinz:" "I wonder what the thoughts would be of a person living in America in 1776 if he/she was asked if there would ever be a possibility of electing an open queer who talks like ELMER-FUDD to serve in Congress."
"Jeff" seemed to get all kinds of social issues muddled in his head when he added, "Wat will obama do now with the loss of his onetime boy toy!"
"Son of Quisp" added to the mix with this cogent observation: "picturing those 2 on their wedding night will turn all gays straight - this is NOT good news for the 'gay agenda' business......" "Ludwig" grumbled, ALL IN CAPS, and in true right-wing fashion: "FREAKS ARE RUNNING THE COUNTRY!!!!"
"Hammertoe" added a grim, society-is-in-danger" warning: "Parents are rolling over in their graves right now."
And Tombett wrapped up the conservative position with this ringing call for action at the polls: "Obama & queers....whats next..oh Nov."
SO, WHAT DO WE KNOW IN THE END? My wife and I married in 1986 and we're still married and still love our kids. President and Michelle Obama are still happily married and Sasha and Malia, their daughters, still strike all fair-minded observers as credits to their mom and dad. Nothing at all has changed for our families.
Even America's cuddly puppy are safe.
Finally, in response to Mr Good Lookinz, and all those like him who seem to steep what passes for political thinking in a brew of hate, we might note that in 1776, the Declaration of Independence included these memorable phrases: "that all men are created equal," "that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights," and "that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
We know, if we love this country--and we might point this out to Jeff and Hammertoe and Tombett, too--that America had a long way to go in 1776, before we could say we had lived up to those ringing ideals. We know that the property qualification was dropped and poor white men started voting only in the early 1800s. We know that advertisements for jobs in the 1850s, when the Irish were first started coming to this country, included the line: "No Catholics Need Apply." We know African-Americans were freed only in 1865; and that it was another century, with passage of the Voting Rights Act, before a real path to the ballot box was open in places like Alabama and Mississippi. We know women gained suffrage in 1920, that interracial marriage became legal in all fifty states in 1967.
We know the State of Massachusetts ruled in favor of gay marriage eight years ago.
America didn't disintegrate then. It won't disintegrate now. What the haters miss is this: "America" is an ideal. It is a place where, in theory, freedom is protected, where liberty grows, despite all droughts and bad weather.
SO, I'M STILL MARRIED TODAY. Maybe there's even a Mrs. Good Lookinz, who is still happy today.
In the end, however, those who specialize in hatred have never been in tune with the arc of our nation's history. They've stood in the path of freedom for a time. But in the end, the ideal has always proved stronger than they seemed to realize.
If we look at it from that perspective today is a good day, for marriage, for human dignity and for the freedom we cherish.