“No Union Is More Profound Than Marriage”
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed. It is so ordered.
The decision, which was the culmination of decades of litigation and activism, set off jubilation and tearful embraces across the country, the first same-sex marriages in several states, and resistance — or at least stalling — in others. It came against the backdrop of fast-moving changes in public opinion, with polls indicating that most Americans now approve of the unions.
- Adam Liptak, “Supreme Court Ruling Makes Same-Sex Marriage a Right Nationwide”
Everyone loves to read a grumpy Justice Scalia dissent. He’s the best! And he’s already a parody of himself, although he parodies well. But you can’t breeze past the other dissents!…It’s just one of the many lies they tell about marriage for the social order. Shall we do this in order?
- Choire Sicha, Forget Scalia! Justice Roberts Is a Total Marriage Moron
When the Supreme Court handed down its ruling declaring that marriage is a fundamental right for all Americans regardless of sexual orientation, Edith Windsor, the plaintiff in the landmark case that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act almost exactly two years ago, was hosting a room full of friends in her apartment near Washington Square Park, where she lived for decades with her late spouse, Thea Spyer. It was a few weeks after Windsor’s eighty-sixth birthday, and she was in an awfully good mood. “I’m thrilled, I’m absolutely thrilled!” she told me over the phone. “Thrilled with the content of the decision” — in which Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote of “the transcendent importance of marriage,” and even Chief Justice Roberts declared in his dissent that he would “begrudge none their celebration.”
Windsor (whom I profiled for the magazine and interviewed for The New Yorker Festival, in 2013) was definitely celebrating. But, she said, “I think it’s only the next major step. We have a history: beginning to see each other with Stonewall, when a whole new community began to recognize itself; the AIDS crisis — we’d always been separated! Gays and lesbians, separated! But when lesbians came forward to help with the victims of AIDS, we all saw each other very differently. I see this as another huge step towards equality — I combine, it, obviously, with my case.”
- Ariel Levy, “A Party for Edith Windsor”
Reader, we married there, with the assistance of Reverend Lorelai Starbuck. Reverend Starbuck suggested we discuss the vows with her beforehand; we said they really didn’t matter. She insisted. We let them stay standard, but as we said our vows, we were undone. We wept, besotted with our luck, then gratefully accepted two heart-shaped lollipops with THE HOLLYWOOD CHAPEL embosssed on their wrappers, rushed to pick up Lenny at day care before closing, came home and ate chocolate pudding in sleeping bags on the porch, looking out over our mountain.
That evening, Reverend Starbuck — who listed her denomination as “Metaphysical” on our forms — rush-delivered our paperwork, along with that of hundreds of others, to whatever authorities had been authorized to deem our speech act felicitous. By the end of the day, 52 percent of California voters had voted to pass Prop 8, thus halting “same-sex” marriages across the state, reversing the conditions of our felicity. The Hollywood Chapel disappeared as quickly as it had sprung up, waiting, perhaps, to emerge another day…
…There’s something truly strange about living in a historical moment in which the conservative anxiety and despair about queers bringing down civilizations and its institutions (marriage, most notably) is met by the anxiety and despair so many queers feel about the failure or incapacity of queerness to bring down civilization and its institutions, and their frustration with the assimilationist, unthinkingly neoliberal bent of the mainstream GLBTQ+ movement, which has spent fine coin begging entrance into two historically repressive structures: marriage and the military. “I’m not the kind of faggot who wants to put a rainbow sticker on a machine gun,” declares poet CAConrad. If there’s one thing homonormativity reveals, it’s the fact that you can be victimized and in no way be radical; it happens very often among homosexuals as with every other oppressed minority.
This is not a devaluation of queerness. It is a reminder; if we want to do more than claw our way into repressive structures, we have our work cut out for us.
- Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts