Flutterby™! : "I now pronounce you 99 to life..."

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"I now pronounce you 99 to life..."

2004-02-19 16:51:14.963715+00 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

On Tuesday night Charlene and I had a couple of friends over. It was a gathering that had been planned for several weeks, but two of the guests late last week had taken advantage of San Francisco offering marriage licenses to couples of any sex combination, so we showered them with rose petals when they entered, had several "Best Wedding Music" compilations on the CD player, and other theme appropriate decorations. We even had someone sneak out and decorate their car, in the pouring rain. Sneaking him back in and trying to find a dry shirt that wasn't too obviously different from the one he'd been wearing was a trick.

So there we sat, with sappy '80s love songs wailing in the background ("...and I(aaaye) will always love you(ewewewewew)"), a number of het folks who want nothing to do with marriage and two people who a few years ago would have been proclaiming marriage a tool of the patriarchy and now could talk about nothing else.

Over at Population: One there were some questions comparing Gavin Newsom's actions to Roy Moore's Ten Commandments in Alabama, pointing out that Californian's passed a proposition a few years ago that defined marriage as something between one man and one woman. I agree that this is a quandary, although this is probably not the case to test it on. Assorted lawyers in San Francisco have been going over the state constitution and assorted precedent with a fine toothed comb, and the general concensus is that if the resources are behind it the proposition will be ruled unconstitutional. Newsom was simply picking which of the contradicting laws to follow.

And, frankly, I see no reason we should give the citizens of Alabama any more weight than those who run Afghanistan or Iraq when we choose the rules we live by.

This hasn't yet gotten to the state that Massachusets has (Columbine talks about that, and Debra has been participating in rallies), because if you came to San Francisco right now to protest you'd get run out of town on a rail. This town is behind the move all the way, and if someone from the central valley wants to make a stink then we'll happily let them secede to Nevada.

But as the evening's discussion wore on I became more than a little uncomfortable. Is someone who railed about marriage as the tool of the patriarchy and has now adopted it with her love wholeheartedly just doing it as an "in your face" response to the larger culture? How can someone with such a history of attitudes speak of wedded bliss, and then talk about how visible prostitution makes them feel uncomfortable?

It's true that many people stood in line to get married longer than Britney's marriage lasted, but how does hopping off a tour bus to get married because you just discovered the city was doing it, even if you've been with that partner for decades, strengthen a relationship?

So while I think it's great that San Francisco has come together to shake up the status quo, and I'm hoping that things in Massachusets continue to open up the boundaries of what we consider to be marriage, I'm uncomfortable that this portion of the population that's had to reject many of the more restrictive notions of the mainstream society is hopping on this bandwagon so handily.

It's great that we're mucking about with the law for giggles, frankly I think the law needs more of that, I'm uncomfortable that in doing so as an act of rebellion people are losing sight of the larger issues of what it means to adopt that culture.

[ related topics: Bay Area Ethics Community Law Civil Liberties Sociology California Culture Sexual Culture Marriage Gavin Newsom ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: Neat to hear what it was like made: 2004-02-20 05:44:34.616894+00 by: jmcbride

I know of many folks that would have loved to take advantage of this. What I think is crazy is that about a year ago I thought that this would probably never take place. Quite a scene I'm sure--a good idea for a city that is probably dealing with some debt, considering that the average american wedding costs something like $30k. I'm sure not everyone spent this much of course, though 2000 couples at $90 a pop, you do the math right? joe

#Comment Re: made: 2004-02-20 06:37:42.314101+00 by: Dan Lyke

The $180k might help, but I'd bet that probably is barely covering the additional resources necessary to handle that many people. Mostly I think Newsom just knows who got him elected, and is looking ahead to larger political things once the mayoral term limits run out. This could be a stepping stone to Congress, if he plays it right.

And I'm sure that with the quick turn-around there wasn't enough time to spend $30k per couple (on rooms, food, photographer, flowers, dresses and clothing, etc), but you know the Castro is getting a quick boost out of this.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-02-20 15:32:43.587087+00 by: Larry Burton

I have some problems comparing Newsom and Moore. Newsom's job is to administer a city where Moore's job was to administer the law. Newsom appears to have the luxury of having contradicting state laws to pick from whereas Judge Moore's job was to decide which laws take precidence and accept rulings of higher courts.