Thursday, July 06, 2006

We lost one today.

In wedding magazine rhetoric, and victorian prose, a wedding day is the happiest day of one's life. Now I had fun at both my weddings, the one that took and the one that didn't, but neither one ranked up there in the happiest days of my life. But there's a wedding that *did* rank up there - not my own, but my mother and step-mother's. The day they were able to legalize their relationship (at that point 25 years and still going strong) may have been the happiest day of my life, other than when my children were born. I remember telling my sons that someday, they would be able to tell their own grandchildren that Nana and Nunu (don't ask about the Nunu thing) got married on that day in May. That they were the first gay people in their town to marry, and that their children were so very proud of them and happy for them.

It wasn't just their children, either. My phone rang off the hook all that day with friends and family members calling to wish joy to my Mom and Sue. Members of my synagogue called. My neighbors in our rural farming community called. Friends I hadn't seen in years called. My ex-husband (and good friend) called, with wishes from himself, his wife and his parents. On an internet list I've belonged to for years, where a lot of the population is conservative Christian, people wished my mothers joy, no matter what they thought of the issue in general. I don't think I've ever wept with happiness before, but I did that day, not just because my mother and Sue were able to enter into legal protections they've never had before, but because this was an act of justice and delight, and everyone who knew me, and knew my family was shared our happiness. My friend and honorary brother Jesse was there in Cambridge when, at midnight, city hall began to issue marriage licenses. He hollered and yelled and laughed and danced at one of the biggest parties he'd ever been to, and called me to share the joy.

New York missed its chance to be the second state in the Union to adopt gay marriage. It missed its chance to lead the nation today, when the state supreme court argued that there were compelling reasons, mostly about parenting, for the state to limit marriage to heterosexuals. Besides rehashing a whole lot of unproven speculation (no one has ever successfully demonstrated that children of gay families are any worse off than the children of any other families), New York missed its own chance to be right, and just and *JOYFUL* - because in a sense, that's what it this is about. Yes, it is about civil rights and politics, justice and mercy. But a wedding (at least a state sanctioned one - we can leave sacredness and holiness to those who concern themselves with faith, not legality) is a party, and a good one, when it is done right. People laugh and dance, they drink wine and sing, and celebrate love and trust and happiness. And the people getting married in New York, who have been denied and reviled and left out for decades would throw the best party anyone has ever seen. Love is a many splendored thing, and its greatest splendor is joy, delight (in the true sublime sense), happiness.
Four bitter judges cost a hell of a lot of joy today.

On a personal note, I've long hoped to convince my mother and Sue to move here for their retirement someday. That won't happen unless the New York State Legislature fixes the errors of the court. I hope it does. But what New York lost can't fully be replaced - a chance to spot the error, fix it fast, and turn to the party and a celebration of human love. I know I'll be there dancing on the day it does, and my children too.

Sharon

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