Another San Francisco First

It’s nice that this should happen 2 days before Valentine’s Day: the first gay marriage license was issued in San Francisco today.

To be completely honest, this is an issue I have struggled with. As much as intellectually I have no problem with the equal protection clause of the Constitution meaning that gay couples should be able to marry just like straight couples, in my heart, I am uncomfortable with the concept.

At any rate, I’ve been giving this issue a lot of thought. As I said, the concept of real, legal gay marriage has pushed my comfort zone quite a bit. I can’t even pin down exactly why I feel that way, except to say that it’s not something I am used to. I know that must sound pretty lame, and maybe it is. And as someone who’s generally on the liberal side of the political spectrum, it’s not at all ‘correct’ (how I hate that word) to say that gay marriage makes you uncomfortable. I’ve wondered whether I might be hurting some of my friends’ feelings by saying how I feel here in this blog. But I think honesty is the better policy. I hope that my struggle to come to terms with the issue will be met with respect. And if reading this does make one of my friends feel bad — please, let me know so we can talk about it.

My parents sent something of a mixed message when it came to homosexuality. It wasn’t a subject often discussed, but if it were to come up, they didn’t have much positive to say about homosexuality. On the other hand, they’ve employed an openly gay man for the better part of 20 years. The fact that this entire time he and his partner have been living together has never seemed to bother them at all – they’ve always treated him with total respect, asked how his partner was doing, and so on. Like I said, that sends a pretty mixed message.

Things were different when I was growing up. Even living in New York City, with an active passion for the theater & arts, I don’t think it really registered on me what “gay” meant until I was in junior high. I had a couple of more or less openly gay teachers in high school and of course, gay colleagues during my career in the theater, but back then (the mid-late 1980s) the issue of the day was AIDS. People were much more concerned about staying alive than about whether or not they could get married. But still, my world was a heterosexual one and marriage was something that a man and a woman did.

Ultimately, what finally pushed me over into the pro-gay marriage camp was a piece Andrew Sullivan wrote called “Here Comes the Groom – The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage“. It’s a well-written piece that essentially says this: Marriage is an institution created to help stabilize society, and that people who enter into it take on both benefits and obligations. We should be encouraging people to marry because ultimately it’s good for society; certainly better than the potential quagmire that ‘domestic partnerships’ open up.

Sullivan is himself gay, so it’s not surprising that he should favor gay marriage. Still, his argument is sound and it was enough to help me come to terms with the question. I may feel a little queasy about it, but the first legal gay marriage in America has been performed. It will be very interesting to see what happens next.

Belated thoughts on BoobGate

Scott and I watched the entire Super Bowl halftime show this year. Not that we were particularly fond of any of the artists — some of them I’d never heard of before — but the rest of the party had migrated into other rooms and for whatever reason we stayed on the couch. So I saw Boobgate as it happened.

We weren’t quite sure whether we’d even seen a naked breast, it was on screen so short an amount of time. It was not a topic of conversation when the rest of the party wandered back into the room. If someone had asked me about the show, I’d more likely have said how overall the show sucked, or something about Kid Rock’s wearing the US flag as a poncho, than about Janet Jackson. So it really surprised me to see the avalanche of press the situation has gotten.

What really bugs me about the whole thing is, why aren’t more people mad at Justin Timberlake? He was the instigator. He grabbed her boob and ripped off the clothing covering it. I’m not a lawyer but it seems possible to me that what he did approached the legal definition of sexual assault. So why are so many people mad at her?

I was listening to a local talk radio show coming home from work last night and the guy on the air said that it’s all because America is racist and that if Janet Jackson weren’t black, things would have been different. I’m not sure I agree with that, mostly because I don’t think of Janet Jackson as being black. She’s so mainstream and so light-skinned that her color is not what immediately comes to mind for me. I think of Halle Berry in a similar light. They’re entertainers first; their skin color is a very distant second.

At any rate, I don’t think this is necessarily a racial issue. I’m not sure what the real reason is. It could be sexism, or the hypocritical morality that so many Americans embrace, or just a slow news week.

Whatever the reason, it’s a huge tempest made out of a very small teapot. Anyone who thinks that two flashing seconds of breast exposure on TV was indecent or immoral or would somehow harm their children is an idiot.

Moby Dick resurfaces

Scott pointed out something tonight that I totally missed in the last episode of ER. There’s a nice echo of Moby Dick in the end to the saga of Dr Romano, in that he was killed by the same creature that previously took his limb (in other words, a helicopter, albeit not a white one).

Very clever of the writers.