NORMAN — “By all means dress in ridiculous togs, exchange rings and kisses … but call it a wedding … with nothing theological about it — and leave marriage to those who still believe in its sanctity.” — Brian Sewell
I did a London radio show two years ago with the gentleman quoted above. He is an old British art critic, famous for his acerbic tongue. Also on the program was a young gay female comedian who talked about wanting to get legally married.
As she spoke, Sewell harshly interrupted.
“Why should you get married?” he barked.
“I want to get married.”
“You may want to, but marriage is a sacrament —”
“One of seven sacraments —”
“Which those of us who have any kind of background in the church are required to have respect for!”
She grew upset. Her face reddened. I thought, well, here’s the war in a nutshell, pro-gay, anti-gay.
Only minutes later, when the program turned to Sewell, I discovered that not only was he gay, but has referred to himself as “queer as they come” and has written about his sexual experiences in a book.
Which is when I had my “aha” moment: I may never fully understand the same-sex marriage issue.
For some, it’s about the Bible. And there are certainly biblical passages decrying homosexuality. But there are also passages that detail polygamy, and I don’t hear them quoted very often.
For some it’s about legal rights — health benefits, inheritance laws. But even critics of gay marriage seem to have little problem with such things.
Mostly, I believe, it is about that word. Marriage. We’re married. They got married. The word, its meaning, its appearance on a piece of paper — a “marriage certificate” — is precious to people. So much so, that many who traditionally employed it as a union between a man and a woman took to the polls to say so.