So there we were, my partner, Chip, and I, at our first gay wedding.
There was lots of delicious food, both live and DJ music, and the noted Boston World Trade Center view. The groom wore a conservative suit and tie, the other groom wore a sheer peacock-beaded shirt and knickers tucked into silver cowboy boots.
Mind you, Darrell would probably have worn the shirt and boots even if he werenít gay so as not to disappoint fans of his Cosmic Muffin persona. As the Weld-appointed official astrologer of the commonwealth, he has an image to uphold.
He and Ed have been together 31 years, more remarkable because theirs is a mixed marriage: one Scottish-American independent, one Italian-American Republican. Their personalities balance each other: One a practical, low-key software engineer; the other an extroverted entertainer and homemaker.
Most of the wedding guests were straight - family, neighbors and friends from work. I met Muffin at the Statehouse years ago, and Ed at their home where people gather for pasta and a swim in their pool. Chip met them at my house when they came to dinner.
Memo to my social conservative friends: Iíve tried to be opposed to gay marriage; honest I have. And intellectually it was easy at first, since I couldnít grasp the linguistics of the situation. Words have meaning, and "marriage" means a man and a woman doesnít it?
Well, not always. I finally did the dictionary check, and found that even my 1975 edition of "The Living Webster," after it does all the man and woman definitions, adds another - "any intimate union."
As Edís brother said during the toast: "... interesting, warm, intelligent people in their own right, and yet together they are better ... happier and fulfilled. I believe they both found peace when they found each other, as is evidenced by their kindness, generosity and hospitality to others ... Ed and Darrell are a wonderful example of a marriage that works."
I can relate to this. My two brief marriages worked, too, in their own way.
I was never very interested in the institution for myself: never asked for a bride doll as a child, or dreamed of walking down the aisle in a satin gown, or looked at men as prospective husbands until they broached the subject themselves. I did want to have a child, though, so I assumed I would get married eventually like almost everyone else I knew.
After the divorces, my husbands and I remained friends, and I got to keep some of their family members as my own extended family. My sonís father remained involved in his life, and today we e-mail each other stories about our twin grandchildren and his other grandson from his second marriage. My second husband and his fifth wife just had their second child; Andyís nephew comes to see me when he is home from England, where he lives with his own male partner.
Chip and I have been together for over eight years. While as uninterested in being married as I have always been, he is convinced that the word "marriage" shouldnít apply to same-sex couples. But we are both close to his sister and her longtime female partner, and he cheerfully attended Ed and Darrellís wedding with me because he likes them both. I admire the effort he makes to stretch his boundaries.
What makes it hard is that some of our usual political opponents are the gay activists who make one want to run screaming into the arms of the religious right. These radical homosexuals insist that anyone who has a religious or cultural opposition to gay marriage is a bigot and would probably have supported slavery, too. They also frighten parents by insisting that homosexuality is a "choice," not merely an inherent condition, even though this "choice" could result in AIDS. Their outreach to teenagers, sold as an effort to raise self-esteem, has sometimes been marked by inappropriate gay sex education.
Social conservatives are rightfully concerned about the effect of these radicals on the social order. Itís important that marriage be honored as the institution best suited to raise children. But there are more children than there are heterosexual couples willing to care for them; gay couples have stepped in to fill that void.
As with many things, including both straight and gay marriage, there are good and bad people involved; good and bad consequences; good and bad potential.
Next week: An analysis of what might really work for the social order.