“Let’s go to Toronto and get married!” says my boyfriend, all sparkly. He says this because it’s now legal for queers to get married a couple thousand miles away in Canada. And I approve of that. In fact, I think it would be nice if the same thing were available for us homos here. But their good news is just that — theirs. For some reason, however, it makes my boyfriend almost inordinately happy.
“Would you like to do that before or after we go see From Justin to Kelly?” I ask. “Let me know so I can pencil it in at the bottom of my ‘to do’ list.”
“You don’t want to marry me in Canada?” he asks, and he’s being, like, serious.
“Depends. Are we moving to Canada too? Because that shit is gonna be worthless the second we decide to step our fat faggot asses back into the United States. Plus we’ll get SARS and croak, which will also make the marriage null and void, even in Canada.”
He just looks at me with that chastening soul-dead zombie gaze you perfect in a long-term relationship. The one that says, I am a soul-dead zombie. You made me this way.
Later in the week, I hear rumblings that other U.S. queers are, indeed, running off to Canada to get that piece of paper. These are people with too much time and money on their hands. Because let me say it again: It means nothing down here. It’s of no consequence. A Ralphs Club card is a better investment. And besides, here in California every queer in a long-term relationship will soon have the choice to adorn themselves with all the civil-union rights the average Vermonter enjoys already. It’s coming round the bend very quickly — as long as Gray Davis doesn’t freak out at the bill signing. It won’t be called marriage, though, and that rubs my other half in multiple wrong ways. “I want to be married to you somewhere in this world,” he says, sweetly.
“But we got married-ish back in Texas,” I counter, and it’s true. We had what we now refer to as our Not Wedding in 1997, on a blistering July Saturday in Dallas, and it was totally fancy in a sort of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving way. We served homemade cake, Otter Pops, champagne and Pop Rocks (in the vain hope that one of those urban-legend Pop Rocks–fueled human explosions would mark the day). We made a tape of Velvet Underground and Parliament songs for everyone to enjoy. We pledged to love, respect and amuse each other for the rest of our lives, with an unwritten vow to fuck shit up whenever possible (a vow the Not Wedding automatically fulfilled due to the geography of the event). We also pulled in a kick-ass haul of loot from our excited loved ones and exchanged simple bands that Siegfried and Roy would turn up their noses at. It was all the wedding I wanted. To seal the deal, this year we finally got off the sofa long enough to work on our wills and power-of-attorney stuff. The combination of laws and our non-meddling families is as much protection as we need, and as married as I care to be. I mean, really, do Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins get themselves all wound up about this shit?
The boyfriend, however, likes the very specific word in a way I don’t quite get. I think of “marriage” as something bloaty and ripe for popping, only really caring about getting to use it as a punishment, something to gleefully rub in the noses of them what hate us. For that reason, the right-wing hissy fits going on right now are particularly entertaining. If Ashcroft or Santorum is upset, my day is practically made right there. Other than that, I just don’t like the idea of married people of any sexual orientation having special marriage-based privileges. In my perfect world, single people, hooked-up people, married squares, polygamists, three-way relationships, lube-intensive fourgys — any consenting-adult human combo — would all be treated equally by the law and the IRS and nobody would get their panties in a wad about it. Of course, that perfect world ain’t ever gonna happen, and I can’t say I like the fact that a hetero union like R. Kelly’s 10-minute marriage to underage Aaliyah was considered just dandy by the one-man-one-woman crowd, or that most doggie and kitty weddings are met with more joy than a queer nuptial. You pretty much know you’re fucked when you start resenting other people’s pets. So yeah, sure, until everyone gets with the real free-love thing, I’ll take whatever marriage or civil-union rights are offered to me. I’ve already been in a marriage for six years; I might as well get the Social Security benefits. Hell, I’ll even take a train to Toronto and make the boyfriend an honest man, frivolity and expense be darned. Because, you know, I love him and stuff.
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