Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
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.