TEENAGE HATELAND?

by Steve Clem on October 10, 2012

In March 2010, I was lucky enough to attend the wedding of two of my dearest friends in Iowa City.

It was like any other wedding and reception. The wedding party and guests were dressed to the hilt and endured the actual ceremony so they could enjoy plenty of liquid refreshments while dancing to the standards: “Celebrate” by Kool and the Gang, “YMCA” by the Village People, and I think even a chicken dance, but I could be wrong. The highlight of the reception was a rousing karaoke version of Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice Baby” by the bride. Well, one of the brides. See, this wedding had two brides. And no groom.

“Kristy” and “Sarah” were, and still are, an amazing couple. They complement each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and are able to work through the stresses of life better than most married couples I know. And I was proud of my home state when I was able to attend a legal wedding for them, thanks to what I still consider to be a very well-thought-out ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court. You can disagree with me all you want; I’m proud that Iowa was one of the first states in the union to support gay marriage.

For me, it is common sense that anyone who wants to get married should be allowed to, short of cousins (which is legal in more states — for second cousins, anyway — than it is for any GLBT community members). The sarcastic/cynical side of me looks at it this way: everyone deserves the right to live miserably for the rest of your life, until death do you part. I kid. Sort of. But seriously, folks.

But in reality, I’ve heard all the anti-gay-marriage arguments, such as “gay marriage will devalue straight marriage.” Much like a foreclosed house brings down the home values of the neighborhood, I guess? I don’t follow this logic. How does allowing Kristy and Sarah to make a legal commitment to each other make it any less valuable when Joe and Jane do the same?

And then there’s the argument that the Bible says gay marriage, or simply being gay, is a sin. Except that there’s this notion from our founding fathers that there should be a separation of church and state. Furthermore, most biblical arguments I’ve seen have taken modern interpretations of a very old document and twisted the words to support their cause. Sodomy and homosexuality aren’t exclusive. At least, not the last time I heard.

Perhaps the biggest irony to me is that most people who argue that the equal-marriage movement is bad for the country are the same people espousing a belief in limited government when it comes to their wallets. Since we’re on the subject of limited government, I wonder if those people are okay with any and all government intrusions into their bedrooms or their altar of marriage, like they’re advocating for others.

As with other shifts away from things we used to culturally accept as a nation — blacks can’t vote or sit at the same table as whites; women can’t vote or legally make any decisions for themselves — Americans as a whole are a slow lot to accept social growth. Which makes sense, if you think about it. In the history of humankind, the United States is still just a teenager. We’re not good at learning from our lessons yet.

But that’s no damn excuse. It’s time to put our collective childish ways behind us. Enough with trying to single out people for being “different” from us. That’s middle school crap. Equal rights should apply to everyone, no matter what your color, your gender, your religion, or who you love.

I have faith that we, as a people, will clear the last major hurdle in the movement toward equality for everyone. And I raise a glass in toast to Kristy and Sarah. I just hope I’m around for their 50th wedding anniversary!

* * * *

Steve Clem is a divorced dad, a recovering Republican, and a Prisoner in the Tundra. He is in The Guinness Book of World Records for being part of the largest Hokey Pokey of all time. He was the founding editor of the Iowa City weekly The ICON.

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