Last weekend we returned briefly to New York City to attend the wedding of my godfather, Glen, and his partner of nearly two decades, Gino. It was a beautiful ceremony, and a wonderful reception at the Loeb Boathouse. It felt very traditional to me, though in one way, I suppose, it was not traditional. To be honest, I hadn’t thought much about it. I knew Glen and Gino as a great couple–one of those couples you just think of as being married, and it strikes you as odd that they aren’t. And even stranger when it’s illegal. I was thrilled when we got the invite, because I consider the two of them good friends (an appellation I use rarely, outside of Facebook), and I was thrilled that they were getting married. I was acutely aware that they had only recently been granted this right in New York, but I thought less about this than about them as two people I knew and liked, who were getting married.
I’ve been supportive of marriage equity for some time. Unlike Obama, this isn’t a position I’ve “evolved into.” But I’ve been supportive in that low-key, slactivist way: I’ve given a bit of money to the Human Rights Campaign, and written letters to editors and to legislators. It has always, to me, been an annoyingly clear case of not providing the same right to everyone. But I will also admit that this comes with a heavy dose of white straight male privilege. Among those I normally interact with, the idea that those who are not white and straight should enjoy the same human rights is beyond legitimate debate–it’s obvious. But it also means that I can agree with this and too easily forget what it has taken to get here. Stonewall was before my time, and not having been in the position of being targeted because of my sexuality means that while I can be deeply empathetic, I will never fully understand that struggle. It is too easy for me to say equality should be the norm, and falls toward the “I don’t see race,” sort of comment.
So, I think there was a lot more to celebrate at Gino and Glen’s wedding than the coming together of two individuals, or of two families. There was more than I could know. That’s probably true of all weddings, but here, I felt like I should have known better, and should have appreciated more what this meant. It wasn’t just making possible what couldn’t have legally happened two years ago. It wasn’t just the state recognizing that they had unjustly excluded some people from a certain certification. It was a step in the lives of two men who had faced a similar set of injustices throughout their lives.
By the time we got to the vows and the exchange of rings, Kai had had enough and Jamie had brought him to the back of the church where he could be a little less disruptive. Jasper, at this point, was sitting on my knee in rapt attention. And more than anything else, seeing the wedding through his eyes made me rethink my own perspective.
Jasper, like me, thinks of Uncle Gino and Uncle Glen as friends–he likes both of them a lot. It was not by design that Jasper’s first wedding was for two men, and I hadn’t really thought much about it, but I am deeply thankful that this, for him, is what a wedding is. Just as I am glad that for Jasper, the president has always been black. I am also aware that this is a very naive version of race and gender equity. I know that these issues are more complex and deserve deeper consideration. But I also enjoy my own naive appreciation, that I share with my son, that two of my favorite people get to be married. And that alone, even outside of the historical context and of the struggle, is something that is worthy of joy and appreciation.
Congratulations Gino and Glen, and may you grow together even more in the years to come.