The Supreme Court heard arguments about two gay-marriage issues last week: California’s Proposition 8, which declares (by popular vote) that gay marriage is out of the question, and the Defense of Marriage Act, enacted by the usually-smarter Bill Clinton, which declares that (for federal purposes) marriage can only ever be between a man and a woman.



The passage of Proposition 8 implies that voters can grant or deny civil rights.



DOMA creates a situation in which married gay couples can still be denied federal benefits.



You can guess (if you don’t already know) where I stand on both issues, but here are some thoughts:



–         Can a referendum really decide a civil rights issue? I’m fine with the voters electing representatives, and deciding on bonds issues, and so forth. But I’m pretty sure that, if civil rights for black people had been put to a vote in the sovereign state of Mississippi in 1964, the vote would have gone badly for black people.

–         Much has been said and written about “marriage.” Isn’t “civil union” enough for gay people (in the states which grant it)? Well, not so much, since “civil union” almost never grants the same rights as “marriage.” If Partner and I were in a civil union, most or all of the local hospitals would be within their rights to deny either of us the right to visit the other. (Most or all of them don’t – Rhode Island is surprisingly gay-friendly – but the law permits them to be far more restrictive than they are. And the Catholic Diocese of Providence is extraordinarily gay-unfriendly.)

–         Someone on Facebook suggested “holy matrimony” as a substitute for the Catholic / Baptist / etc. word “marriage.” After all, pretty much every City Hall grants “marriage licenses,” and City Hall is no place for religious ceremony. So: if the Holy Roman Catholic Church doesn’t like gay marriage, it doesn’t have to perform them; that would be allowing two men to enter “holy matrimony.” But it must acknowledge that two men are civilly and legally “married,” just as they acknowledge Protestant marriages and Jewish marriages and Muslim marriages and purely-City-Hall marriages.



Over the past few weeks, a lot of my straight Facebook friends have posted pro-gay marriage messages and images. People at work whom I’ve known casually for five, or ten, or twenty years, have suddenly come forward and hugged me. (Partner reports similar behavior in his office.)



These are “allies”: straight people, people whose rights are not in question, who are coming forward to say that they support our right to marry.



I thank all our allies: Mary, and Diane, and Paul, and the rest. They are wonderful people.



And who cares what the Supreme Court decides?



We know we’re right.



And we will win in the end.


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

4 Responses to Allies

  1. Here’s what I’m missing: you, and other pieces I’ve read, say it doesn’t matter what the Court decides because we all know what’s right, and the states are legislating anyway. But it seems to me it’s pretty critical what this conservative cluster-fuck court decides, because of all the concurrent rights that go with marriage. Like all those critical life/health issues (hospital visits, health proxies, taxes…..). So why are people sounding blase about the court’s decision? Roe v Wade in the hands of states? As you say, large groups of people in conservative (read, stupid) states would be in real trouble.

    • It’s all about the rights. I wonder about what might happen if I or Bill went into the hospital, and they suddenly decided to go all caveman on us and not permit one to see the other. Marriage, and its concomitant rights, would forbid that. I hope the Supreme Court will make a sweeping judgment, but I know they probably won’t; they’ll decide that the states have the right to decide, but declare that (for example) if Massachusetts has legalized gay marrriage, the marriage has to be recognized in all 50 states. Or something like that.

      We’ll see in two months, won’t we?

  2. starproms says:

    You know my thoughts on this already Loren. I believe that marriage has to be between a man and a woman. However! why not call the union you want by a different name, but give the same rights as a marriage? After all, ‘a rose by any other name would smell as sweet!’ Here’s my hug anyway ((((Loren)))) ((((Partner)))).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: