I’ve been really troubled by Proposition 8’s passage in California. It’s a strange kind of melancholy, because I’m already married, and I live in the DC area, so there’s no practical impact on me at all. Trying to explain this weirdly vicarious disappointment, I realize that it was arguments about marriage equality that first convinced me of the value of marriage itself.
Some supporters of marriage inequality talk about how gay marriage would weaken or damage heterosexual marriages, but for me it’s the opposite: my marriage feels a little less joyful because my wife and I are enjoying a privilege that is denied to other loving couples. I only really became comfortable with marriage as an institution when Massachusetts and California began to grant marriages to gay couples. I thought I saw a steady movement toward full marriage equality in those decisions, and I jumped on the bandwagon. Now I have this feeling of mild disgust and guilt. It’s like realizing I’ve just been admitted to a racist country club: the amenities are swell, but watching the members nod approvingly as some fat slob talks about ‘sanctity’ and ‘purity’ makes me throw a up a little in my mouth.