I was part of a movement of "dinosaur moms" when I lived in Maryland (Astrodon Johnstoni is the Maryland state dinosaur.) Which is nothing more than this -- dinosaur moms delight in the half-feral nature of the beasties they parent, even as they whisper Shakespeare and Kierkegaard in their ears at night.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Mawwiage. It's what bwings us togethow.

This is a picture of Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin when they first began to live in commitment with each other, though they would pass their Golden Anniversary before California would recognize their right to marry.

When putting together our wedding, lo these many years ago, I discovered this poem from Dickinson:

Of all the Souls that stand create –
I have elected — One –
When Sense from Spirit — files away –
And Subterfuge — is done –
When that which is — and that which was –
Apart — intrinsic — stand –
And this brief Drama in the flesh –
Is shifted — like a Sand –
When Figures show their royal Front –
And Mists — are carved away,
Behold the Atom — I preferred –
To all the lists of Clay!

I rejected it in favor of the better-known Browning sonnet. Little did I know that our beat poet friend Marty would render that little bow to tradition irrelevant with his offering -- a howling epic rant of love not soon to be forgotten by any who attended.

My little two cents in this discussion the nation is having about gay marriage is that the old spinster Dickinson had her finger on it. If marriage is something more than the title transfer that it was in the Old World, it is this; this most American of sentiments from this most American of poets; “Behold the Atom I preferred/ to all the lists of Clay!” The right of a person to pledge her troth to that Soul that she elects is sacred, … well, because it is. Because it is essential to her person-hood, to the living of a free life; an American life; a full and complete life. It is a right for the same reasons and in the same way that freedom of religion is a right.

Sure, there are benefits, social stability, or children that might issue from such a union, but they are beside the point. An undocumented alien can marry. A post-menopausal woman can marry. A terminally ill person can marry. A convict on death row can marry. A bankrupt debtor can marry. We feel the rightness of this. It is not for argument. It is not for pros and cons. It is simply a right.

The government might arguably have an interest in promoting or supporting marriage for these ancillary reasons (Although as a married person, I must add that I’m not feeling the love here from my government.) But these interests do not open the door for the government to judge or sanction the act of choosing itself.

My stepfather is a DJ and I used to help him sometimes. At weddings, he does this thing where he gets all the married couples out on the dance floor, and then he asks the ones who have been married less than a year to sit down; then the ones who have been married less than five; less than ten, and so on, until one or two couples remain. Then he’ll ask them to give advice to the newlyweds. Oh c’mon, it’s cute.

Anyway, at this wedding, the remaining couple were a pair of women. And the poignant thing was, there was no poignant thing. They were just the longest married couple at the party. They didn’t have any answers (Their advice, for the record, was “Fight. A lot.”). But still.

A good wedding is a meditation on marriage and this one really was.

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