Chaz Bono’s current tour for his book, which records his incredible journey of self-acceptance as he underwent his transition from Chastity, the woman, to Chaz, the man, has been met with predictable vitriol from conservative pundits. Perhaps more surprisingly, there has been some criticism within the LGBT Communities, many of whom see his rush to marriage as a bit unseemly now that he’s “hetero-” and legal.
According to Wikipedia’s exhaustive article on the subject, as of March 2011, forty-one states prohibit same-sex marriage via statute or the state’s constitution. While President Obama has yet to come out as a supporter of gay marriage, he at least stated this past February that the Federal government will no longer defend The Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibits same-sex marriage on the federal level. Currently there are five states that allow same-sex marriage: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, plus D.C. and the Coquille Tribe in Oregon. We’ve got a long way to go. I remember, with joy, the first time I got a phone call from a young man who said, “my husband and I would like to come and see you.”
I’ve always found it a bit ironic that many gay therapists like myself spend a great deal of our professional lives helping to “save” marriages, when we, ourselves, can’t get married. I think we are so fascinated by the idea of marriage that we are often very good, indeed, at what we do.
A few years ago, I finally made it to the altar–as Best Man for a friend! He and his bride asked me if I would say a few words about how badly they felt about getting married, when some of their closest friends who were part of the gay community couldn’t. I thought it was a touching gesture, but kind of a downer at that point in the service. So I found myself doing a bit of a stand-up routine and said that “my people” tended to sit at weddings lip-synching to the vows and pretending they could actually get married, too. I was a hit. I felt I made the point without ruining the celebration by guilt-tripping everyone.
In a recent editorial for the NY Times, Rich Benjamin does just that and writes that he is now going to start boycotting all heterosexual weddings. His rationale is to the point: “Why should I financially subsidize and emotionally invest in a ritual that excludes me?”
The day I read the article, I ordered a lovely set of salad bowls for young heterosexual friends of mine who are getting married in August. But I understand Mr. Benjamin’s point. And I would hope that Chaz understands it, too. One moment she was part of the LGBT Right to Marriage Movement as someone who could not legally marry her same-sex beloved partner; now, voila, he’s rushing to the chapel. From what I’ve read, he does understand, and if there’s a whole load of queer folk lip-synching along to the vows, well, the bridegroom’s mother should be used to that!
Kent Jarratt, LCSW
Got thoughts or opinions on this topic? A helpful anecdote you want to share? Feel free to leave a comment below.
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