By Kate Clinton on April 30, 2004

Wedded to the Republicans

These are hard days for gay Republicans. When the Lord of the Wedding Rings held his no-questions-asked press conference, he said he was sorely "troubled." At last, I thought, an admission. But no, he wasn't talking about his mental condition. He was troubled, he said, by activist judges overruling the will of the people. Activist judges are OK only if they are selecting him as President, but otherwise they are a big no-no.

In his grim-faced version of Charlton Heston, Bush essentially said, "They can have my wedding ring when they pry it from my cold dead hand." His straight plan for the gay man and lesbian was to endorse a constitutional amendment reminding everyone that marriage is, by definition, the union of a man and a woman. Why an amendment, when a simple post-it would do?

For gay Republicans--and one-third of gay voters in the last Presidential election voted Republican--this is a very perverse Sally Fields moment: "You hate me! You really, really hate me!" They have been officially, publicly dissed, discounted, and double-crossed. And still, some of them remain wedded to the Republican Party. What some call denial, others parse as pragmatism.

After a show in North Carolina, I was sitting at dinner next to a young lesbian couple. I asked one of the women what she did, and she said, "Make trouble." During the next course, she came out to me as a Republican.

She was from a long line of Democrats and Baptist fundamentalists, and for those of you who were wondering, it's easier to break away from the Democrats than from the Baptists. I asked her if she would now bolt her newly embraced party because of the proposed amendment. She said that she felt it was important to stay in the Republican Party, that if people like her left, all that would remain would be religious extremists. She said she was discouraged by the anti-gay marriage amendment but felt energized to make trouble and reclaim her party. I admired her willingness to be in the fray and in their faces and suggested that for making real trouble, nothing would beat getting active in her party and then going in the voting booth and pulling the lever for John Kerry. She laughed and clapped me a good one on the back.

With all the focus on gay marriage (and I hope someone, somewhere in a gender studies seminar is figuring out why two-thirds of the gay couples getting married are lesbian), little attention is being paid to single gay people. If you're single and gay, you're really isolated today. I asked a gay friend who is single about this at a rally, and he told me--while carrying his "Whose Constitution? Our Constitution!" sign--that he felt a nagging resentment that he couldn't join in any rainbow games.

Then there are those gays and lesbians who believe that marriage is a dead-end for the sexual liberation movement. Why, they ask, should we demand to join an institution that is so confining and conservative? I sympathize with this view.

But I also agree with the argument that gays and lesbians should have all the rights that heterosexuals do. The daily insults from the slippery slopeheads are not only offensive, they also fuel an increase in anti-gay violence and grave and growing internalized homophobia. Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, which is Italian for "from Mars," bloviated that if we allow gays to marry, the next thing you know people will want to marry their pets.

Trust me, for most gay people, our next thought after popping the question is not, "And if you won't have me, I'll marry my cat."

Our next thought is, "For this we pay taxes?"

-- Kate "Read Laura Flanders's book 'The Bush Women' " Clinton is a humorist.

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He doesn't believe in it. But Mary Burke does, and she wants to raise it. So do most Badgers.

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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