By Kate Clinton on April 30, 2004

I Do Weddings

You've all heard my Peggy Lee lip-syncing "Is that all there is?" gay marriage whine. The next sound you'll hear is me jumping on the Same Sex Marriage Express. I am joining the Gay Marriage Industrial Complex!

Quite frankly, I am not going to let another gay wave pass me by.

I missed the rainbow tchotchke cash cow. Who knew?

I missed the gays on TV bonanza, but so did a lot of other actual gay people.

I missed the Gay Cruise treasure chest.

This time around, I will not be left at the altar.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, and that's just what I intend to do.

Judy Dlugasz, the founder of Olivia Cruises who does shipboard ceremonies (a twofer, she's brilliant!), told me how to get a minister's license from the Universal Life Church.

The ULC people will e-confer your ministership at no cost, but I splurged, and for $109, plus shipping and handling, I got the deluxe reverend package. In addition to my minister's license with my name in a very convincing liturgical font, it includes a wedding business training video for ministers and a revised and very helpful "Ultimate Wedding & Ceremony Workbook" for the planning-impaired.

I am most proud of my wallet-sized hologram license and the six-by-nine-inch orange laminated "Parking--Minister's Business" placard to display on my dashboard. The fine print says that parking privileges are not recognized in New York City, and that I am not authorized to do circumcisions. Otherwise I am good to go-d.

Like those itinerant clerics who traveled during the summer months and took over for vacationing priests, I hope to help out this summer in Provincetown, but without the pedophilia.

My wedding package, The Rite Stuff, includes one hour of pre-marriage counseling (because I don't want to hear much more about it than that); the ceremony itself (I'm very good with parents); and the reception after. My motto: "Every reception needs a wedding zinger."

My friend from Provincetown called me and my bluff and asked me to celebrate their union of thirty-two years. "We'll get the justice of the peace thing, but then we'd be honored to have you officiate in our living room, with a few friends. Then we'll go out to dinner."

And suddenly I am poring over my books, watching my video, worrying about my outfit, and writing a special ceremony for my good friends. I plan on mentioning the ups and downs and dish they've gone through together, that they lived through the AIDS plague, that they are the center of their often dysfunctional straight families, that they have to whack back their co-dependencies with large sticks, that they've both survived quadruple bi-pass surgeries and recoveries, that they care for their aging surviving parents, that they've raised thousands of dollars for the Provincetown AIDS support group, that they are hysterical to watch the Women's NCAA basketball finals with, and that they are spectacular loyal friends and boon companions to each other.

Part celebration, part roast, I am as nervous about this occasion as when I first began to perform. And honored beyond measure and surprised to be asked to celebrate my friends' love.

Get your licenses. Celebrate your friends. We'll make this marriage thing ours yet. As that old dyke Susan B. said, "Failure is impossible."

-- Kate (Don't call me the Right Reverend. Or even the Left Reverend. Call me the Irreverend.) Clinton is a humorist.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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