Tuesday, November 18, 2008

18,000 Gay Marriages . . . Now Imagine They Are Straight

Before Matthew McConaughey traded serious acting for seriously bad romantic comedies with Kate Hudson, he stepped away from the bong long enough to deliver one hell of a cinematic soliloquy at the end of A Time To Kill.

Up against a vengeful all-white jury, eager to execute Samuel L. Jackson for his vigilante murder of two white youths, retribution for their brutal rape of Jackson's teenage daughter, Matt must deliver his closing argument with the deck stacked against his client. It is beyond dispute that Jackson committed the crime. He even erupts during his testimony to gallery outrage, "YES I'M GLAD THEY'RE DEAD AND I HOPE THEY BURN IN HELL!"

Um, objection? Why? Because it is very damaging to my client's case!

Out of options, McConaughey (oddly wearing a shirt for the occasion) decides to appeal to the jurors' better instincts, and recounts the harrowing tale of Jackson's daughter's rape, tugging at the heartstrings for a "not guilty" verdict for his unequivocally guilty defendant ("jury nullification" in legal parlance). He asks the members of the jury to close their eyes, to envision the narrative as he relays it. It's disgustingly vivid in detail and the members become visually shaken, some breaking down in tears.

Then, in a brilliant flip-the-script moment at the story's climax, Matt holds the mirror up to the bigotry of the white jurors before they decide Jackson's fate. Not the fate of a black man, but the fate of a reasonable father protecting his child:

Can you see her? Her raped, beaten, broken body soaked in their urine, soaked in their semen, soaked in her blood, left to die. Can you see her? I want you to picture that little girl . . . Now imagine she's white.

A powerful twist. Jackson found not guilty. And justice prevails.

Now let me tell you a story. Close your eyes:

It's June of this year. An absolutely glorious summer day. A congregation gathers on a beautiful beach to witness the marriage of a gay couple, two men, before a crystal blue ocean, shimmering with sunshine. They've been together for 15 years - high school sweethearts. They've loved each other with fidelity and with passion for 15 years. In attendance today, their friends and family, glowing with pride, decked out in today's haute couture, white and brilliant. They exchange vows. Parents tear up. Crazy aunts sob with joy. A real kiss received with thunderous applause. They triumphantly march down the makeshift aisle, hand-in-hand, passing the congregration as they are pelted with rice, everyone now drenched in crimson of the setting sun.

Then comes the reception within a glass-encased ballroom, a large snow globe of humanity, besides the water at a seaside hotel. The mirth of the cocktail hour begins. Handshakes and hugs. Finger foods-a-plenty. The newlyweds mingle and drift through the crowd with regal grace, exchanging warm sentiments and regards, posing for pictures. The reception room opens, revealing its elegance and taste. However, despite the sophistication of the decor, this is no stuffy affair. After the couple's first dance (Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes"), frenzied Chicken-dancing ensues. The jolly crowd is boisterous. A maudlin uncle grabs the microphone and leads the band in a cacophonous rendition of Sinatra's "Strangers in the Night."

Dinner comes: chicken or beef. Young children parade around the dance floor, no longer wearing shoes, doing silly jigs. The cake is cut and the two lovebirds have an intimate food fight for the photographers. More dancing. A conga line forms to "Feelin' Hot." Ties unknotted, now headbands for drunken, flushed faces. The last Whiskey Sour served by the open bar. The band well-wishes the happy couple and bids the revelers good night to chants of "one more song . . . one more song." The band obliges them with a final performance. Satisfaction. All bellies full. All minds sufficiently impaired with booze. Everyone goes home happy.

The line forms for the coat check. The newlyweds look on with approval, exchange another genuine kiss and gather the moment. They feel the gravity of the occasion. They see flashes from the future - family, careers, tragedies, joy, growing old together. They realize for the thousandth time: We deeply love each other. They silently utter the vows again their minds: "I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love and honor you all the days of my life." This is a dream come true.

Can you see them? A just married couple, committed, eager, ready for what's to come, in good times and in bad. Can you see them? I want you to picture this beautiful, radiant couple, surrounded by kith and kin, in a genuine celebration of love. Can you see them?

Now imagine they're a man and a woman.

Since May 17, 2008, when the California Supreme Court ruled that homosexuals have a fundamental right to marry, 18,000 gay marriages have been promulgated before the state. More importantly, 18,000 gay couples have celebrated their love using the ceremony we take for granted. Now a bigoted proposition sullying the state constitution casts these marriages into doubt.

Are we really saying as a society that the most devoted of these 18,000 marriages is morally inferior to the worst of our millions of heterosexulal marriages - marriages marred with infidelity, abuse, disappointment, neglect and ultimately divorce?

Very disappointing.

Why would you "choose" homosexuality when straight society makes it practically unbearable to be gay?

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