By Beth Quinn
Dear 38 Members of the New York Senate Who Voted Against Gay Marriage:
I wrote the following column nearly six years ago, when the Religious Right had a stranglehold on this country and wanted us to Just Say No to Everything.
Alas, it is as pertinent today as it was during the Bush Dark Ages, as you illustrated with your vote last week to prevent gay marriage in New York – a state that, by contrast to places like Tennessee and Alabama, was once considered progressive and grown up.
For those of you backward senators who voted poorly, this column is for you.
Hey, Self-Righteous Prigs, Quit Meddling
I was going to leave the gay marriage issue alone just to save myself some grief.
But then I thought, what fun would that be? Somebody’s got to irritate the self-righteous folks who tell the rest of us how to live, and it might as well be me. You know who you are, so get your Bibles ready because you’ll want to damn me to hell by the time we’re done here.
For me, there is one central question in the whole gay marriage controversy: What do you care?
What difference does it make in your own life if two gays or lesbians get married? It simply mystifies me that you feel threatened by this. What possible harm could it do in your personal, little life whether the two guys living at the end of your block say “I do”?
I keep hearing the same pat answer from your prophets of doom – that allowing homosexuals to marry will “destroy the institution of marriage.”
Well I gotta’ tell you, a lot of gays and lesbians have been getting married in San Francisco lately, and so far my own institution of marriage is doing just fine. I checked. When I heard they were lining up for licenses, I asked my husband if he felt our marriage was going downhill on account of it. He just ignored the question and wanted to know what kind of perennials I thought we should put in this spring.
I took that as a good sign. Perennials are an investment in the future, so I figure he’s sticking around despite what those homosexuals are doing.
So, self-righteous folks, I guess I’m wondering what’s wrong with your own marriages that you feel so threatened by another couple’s happiness. Are you unable to sustain a good sexual relationship knowing that two gay guys are sleeping together in wedded bliss? Are you unable to have an intimate conversation with your spouse because you’re distracted by the notion of two women going off on a honeymoon?
Because if your marriage is that unstable, you should stop worrying about what others are doing and tend to your own problems before your divorce contributes to the decline of the institution of marriage.
I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I’ve completely failed to come up with ways that gay marriage will have an impact on your life. It won’t raise your taxes. It won’t cause the kid who shovels your driveway to quit. It won’t make your laundry dingy. It won’t alter the weather. It won’t cause your dog to start passing gas. It won’t affect your relationship with God. It won’t cause you to develop a tumor on your head.
Those of you who would talk about grand concepts like society and institutions and pillars and guideposts and moral fibers and whatnot, I say this is just your excuse for meddling. And history has shown us that nothing good ever comes of meddling in other people’s affairs. Every time Christians showed up to mess with heathens, for example, we just ended up with a lot of unhappy heathens with syphilis and smallpox.
Those of you who would point out that the dictionary definition of the word “marriage” involves a man and a woman, let me point out that the dictionary is a living, breathing document that changes as word usage changes. If you doubt it, look up the word “dot” in a current edition.
We the people get to decide what’s in the dictionary. The dictionary doesn’t get to dictate our societal conventions. Your hair isn’t going to catch on fire if the definition of marriage is eventually changed to read, “two consenting adults” instead of “man and woman.”
As for the Bible, which is always the last refuge for those of you who want to impose your will on us savages, we’re not all reading out of the same book.
More fundamentally, the Bible is not a legal document. If it were, those who fail to love one another would be rounded up and thrown in jail. The prison budget would go through the roof what with all the new cells we’d be needing for the neighbor haters.
I have only this advice to offer those of you who oppose gay marriage: Don’t marry a homosexual.
If you’re a man and you don’t want to marry another man, for crying out loud, stick to your guns! That would be a terrible idea. You’d be miserable! Same for women. Marry someone of the opposite sex if that’s your personal preference.
After all, no one’s got the right to meddle in your private affairs.
Note to Readers: Many of you have inquired as to my whereabouts these past few weeks. First of all, thanks for noticing my absence – and for asking. I’ve had to pull back from Zest a bit because my attention is needed elsewhere just now. I plan to make occasional contributions to Zest as the spirit and time move me. Meanwhile, have a great holiday season, a merry Christmas and a healthy, prosperous New Year. – Beth
Beth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.