Forty-One Years Of Living, Loving, And Marriage—And They Still Don’t Hold Hands In Public

Ed Raymond

Linda, 69, and Gloria, 64, were the first lesbian couple to be married legally in the United States, eight years ago. They were part of the lawsuit against the state of Massachusetts that won gays the right to marry in the state. They have been an item for 41 years. In a Washington Post story by Eli Saslow, they are proud they have spent only four nights apart in those 41 years. They share a house, boat, and cellphone, and owned a psychotherapy counseling business until they retired on the same day. Linda always drives the car while Gloria closes her eyes and pretends to sleep. Gloria thinks Linda drives too fast. Linda is the excitable one while Gloria is “cool.”
    Linda has attention deficit disorder, so Gloria pays the bills and keeps files on their finances and other important papers. On the other hand, Gloria forgets to take her pills, so Linda always brings them to her with a glass of water. They fish and play golf twice a week. They finish each other’s sentences and at dinner will often finish each other’s plates. Their wedding pictures hang in their living room, where each night they sit on the sofa holding hands and talk for half an hour before turning to TV. They both love a fire in the fireplace. Linda says, “We love each other, and I would never want to spend my life committed to anyone or anything else.”
   But they live in a country where they still feel self-conscious about their relationship after 41 years, so when they are out for a walk and holding hands, they will drop their hands if they encounter strangers. What does that say about our society? Is this old married couple of Linda and Gloria a real danger?

The Idea Of Gay Marriage
Started 46 years Ago
In—Believe It Or

   Two men shared a dormitory room at the University of Oklahoma at Norman in 1966. Jack Baker was an Air Force veteran, the other was Michael McConnell. They fell in love. Jack asked Michael if he wanted a committed relationship. Michael said yes, but only if they could get married! Four years later, Jack and Michael made sensational national news by applying for a marriage license—in Minnesota. At that time, state laws did not even mention gender because same-sex marriage was “unthinkable.” Of course, they were denied the license. Baker and McConnell still live together in Minnesota, and perhaps will have something to say about the vote on the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage this November.
   But just think of the progress made from this tentative step. In 1969 the gay community made national news at the Stonewall Riots in New York City when the police raided a gay bar in Greenwich Village—which was actually run by the Mafia. It was such a battle that it has been called the tipping point for gay liberation. In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of “mental disorders.” “Hate the sin but love the sinners”? Who started that crap?

Same-Sex Marriage:
The Right Side Of
History, Science, Genetics
—And Religion

   Forty years later we have the mainstream press calling President Barack Obama the “first gay president” because of his support for gay marriage—even if Vice President Joe Biden gave him a push. We have six states (Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York) and the District of Columbia that allow gays to marry, Washington and Maryland with new laws about to go into effect, and five states that allow civil unions. California is presently in court. We still have 38 states that have constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. With the radical idea that “all men are created equal” on the side of same-sex marriage advocates, these constitutional amendments are on the wrong side of history and will be real messy in the future. It will be interesting to see what happens to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as “a legal union between one man and one woman.”  The Obama administration refused to defend the law when it was challenged in court. Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law when it was pushed by Bible-thumpers just a month or so before the 1996 elections. He now regrets signing it. But the nutcases are still around. Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch of Wisconsin revealed her intellectual capacity in a 2010 rant on a Christian Right radio show: “This is a slippery slope in addition to that—at what point are we going to OK marrying inanimate objects? Can I marry this table, or this, you know, clock? Can we marry dogs? This is ridiculous. Can we marry dogs?”

Why Do Atheists
Have A Much Lower
Divorce Rate Than
Conservative Christians?

  Perhaps if northern Bible-thumpers and Bible Belt believers would actually do research on U.S. divorce rates, they might change their minds about same-sex marriage. These facts come from research conducted by fundamentalist Christian organizations determined to defend marriage from “homosexual influences.”
(1) The divorce rates among evangelicals and fundamentalists are the highest in the country.
(2) The highest rates are found in the Bible Belt. Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Kansas are at least 50 percent above the national average.
(3) Divorce by group: Non-denomination 34%, Baptist 29%, Mainline Protestants 25%, Mormons 24%, Catholics 21%, Lutherans 21%, Hindus 5%.
(4) Atheists and agnostics have the lowest rate of any “religious” group.
(5) Conservative Christians have a much higher rate of divorce than liberal Christians. Experts indicate this is because conservatives have a lower regard for women than liberals.
(6) Conservative Christians are more likely to raise alarms about same-sex marriage on the assumption that gay marriage is a total threat of some kind to the traditions and institutions of marriage. What is that threat? They never seem to know specifically how gay marriage destroys traditional marriage. If gay marriages do not affect Hindu marriages, why would they affect Christian marriages?

Who Is Destroying The
Institution of Marriage?

   With the average marriage ceremony with all accouterments such as flowers, booze, dinners, photographers, and 14 ladies-in-waiting gowns costing $26,000 in the U.S., no wonder only 51 percent of adults in the country are married. Many are cohabiting because it’s the only thing they can afford. But we also have the Republican party, which is helping to destroy marriages before they even hit the altar or judges’ chambers. It’s their political ideology. June Carbone and Naomi Cahn of AlterNet list five reasons why marriage is no longer desirable or possible for huge numbers of the middle class because of economic conditions brought on by Wall Street greed and the feckless Bush administration.
   Why marry? Well, love—and perhaps the silly idea that two “partners” will be better off, and happier, together than apart. This worked when the male had access to a living wage, a “family” wage, and child care was the responsibility of the stay-at-home mom. But in many cases this is no longer possible. Now it takes two wage-earners to make a home, requiring trade-offs, concessions, and many career-interrupting incidents to provide enough financial security to maintain a family. Remember Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem “How Do I Love Thee—Let Me Count the Ways”? The Republicans have come up with a new epic poem: “How Can I Screw Thee—Let Me Count the Ways.”
   The Scott Walker Republicans have assaulted unions with a diabolical force, destroying the ability for a marriage candidate to earn a family wage. The destruction of unions and the emphasis on corporate welfare instead of family welfare have destroyed job stability. With a family now requiring two lousy incomes instead of one good one, how can a family even afford to have a child? Other countries value the development of families, with 178 other countries in the world providing paid parental leave to allow development of a good base for children. But not the United States. Who gives a damn? Only a few “Democratic” states (California, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Hawaii) provide temporary disability insurance programs to cover some of the costs of pregnancy and childbirth. The loss of employment is one of the major causes of divorce, believe it or not. The ever-increasing income gap between the rich and the poor has been catastrophic on the institution of marriage.

The Republican War
On Women And
Reproductive Freedom
—And Same-Sex Marriage

  In 2011 alone legislatures in all 50 states introduced 1,100 “Stupid Women” bills resulting in 135 new ways to insult the intelligence of the female gender. Over 90 of these new laws targeted abortion rights. Legislators, it’s none of your damn business. It is the woman’s, the family’s, and the doctor’s business. Abortion started in the cave with sticks and toxic plants and is now in the ghettos of Hollywood, the Hamptons, Harlem, and Watts with coat hangers and expensive “clinics.” We have a world-wide religion that required a 12-year-old child to give birth to a baby fathered by her own father. That’s a rapacious sexual assault on a child.
   I have never been able to get an answer from fundamentalists who say they believe every word in the Bible because it was written by the BIG GUY. What about Psalm 139:13: “For you formed my inward parts, you covered me in my mother’s womb.” Let’s try this scenario again. Corky and I have a gay son. He and his partner of a dozen years or so are happily married now and live in Iowa. They were married by our oldest daughter, who earned a ministerial certificate to perform the marriage, all legal in Iowa. It was a terrific wedding. If you believe in every word of the Christian Bible, God formed the parts of this gay baby, examined him in Corky’s womb, and pronounced him A-OK for entrance into this world. Who in hell are you to say that he and his partner are second-class citizens? Who made you the judge of God’s work?

Enough Already With
The American Taliban

   As we learn more about science, medicine, and the rest of the human condition, we are gradually eliminating the irrationality present in most religions. As most grand juries can find enough evidence to indict a ham sandwich for criminal activities, Bible-thumpers and bishops can search Bibles and find passages outlawing pigskin footballs and a mix of cotton and polyester in garments, and requirements for the ritual sacrifice of foreskins as symbols of dedication—to something. The tide endorsing these bizarre activities is gradually receding. Fifteen years ago, only 25 percent approved the idea of same-sex marriage. Gays have been a part of societies since the first cave-dwellers. American Indian tribes thought that gays and lesbians were the best shamans around. Now approval of the idea that gays are created equal is about 50 percent.
   Religionists can no longer crush or intimidate science and reason in most areas of the country, although I admit there is still some doubt about the South. Politics and religion can make a very ugly combination. Talibans around the world, whether in Islamabad, Kabul, or the Vatican, are often the result of inequality—and ignorant, misogynistic men attempting to suppress and dominate women.
  A New Yorker cartoon puts current religion in its proper place. God is viewing a big flat-screen TV as an angel whispers in his ear. God looks at her and says, “I can’t deal with any famines, massacres, or epidemics right now—I’ve got to help some guy sink a foul shot.”