November 12, 2008

Same-Sex Marriages Begin in Connecticut Today: "No Big Deal"

Beginning today, Connecticut joins Massachusetts as the second state in the US to issue licenses for same-sex marriages. Not civil unions or domestic partnerships or some other separate-but-equal concept, but full-on marriages. The overwhelming reaction in the state appears to be that it's no big deal.

Same-Sex Couples Can Obtain Marriage Licenses Today
By Daniela Altimari, The Hartford Courant

Connecticut begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples today, a historic milestone that gays and lesbians will celebrate and social conservatives will grieve.

Many others are likely to respond with a shrug.

"They could do what they want to do," said Karen Dowdell, a 61-year-old Hartford resident who was shopping at Corbins Corner in West Hartford Tuesday morning. "I could care less..."

...Citizens here have long displayed a distaste for the culture wars that have riven so much of the nation...

Same-sex marriage comes to Connecticut more than four years after it arrived in Massachusetts. Those first-in-the-nation gay weddings were met with a burst of hoopla. Reporters from as far as Japan came to cover the story...

Contrast that to Connecticut, where the gay rights coalition Love Makes a Family has received a smattering of calls from international media, "but nothing compared to what they received in Mass.," said Anne Stanback, the group's president...

Now, "at least in New England, it's becoming ... old hat," Stanback said. In fact, she added, for most people in Connecticut, same-sex marriage is "a big yawn..."
A big yawn? Well, yes, and that's exactly what it should be. Why should anyone care about what two consenting adults do in terms of their own relationship? It's nobody's business but their own. How many of us look through the marriage announcements in our local newspapers at all, let alone do so with any sense of either excitement or revulsion? If it weren't for the magical thinking of culture warriors who wish others to accept their strange, as-yet-unexplained notion that the effects of somebody else's marriage extend to the rest of the world, nobody would care about this. Even objections based in religion would, if they were statements of honest faith instead of bigotry given a cosmetic gloss of godliness, culminate with nothing more than a shrug and a "God will sort this out, so I'm not worried" sort of a statement.

See, that's the thing about equality. It's only exciting in the moments prior to and immediately after it is extended to some group that didn't previously have it. After that, it quickly becomes a pretty ho-hum situation. That's a good thing. That's what acceptance looks like. Sure, there may be a few radical racists who feel otherwise, but does anyone get revved up today over the fact that a vote cast by a black person in the USA is weighted equally with one cast by a Caucasian — a situation which was once made otherwise by nothing less than a Constitutional amendment? For the vast majority of people, this is just the way things are and we accept it, even though there were once movements as passionately for and against the arrangement we now take for granted and great celebration when it first changed.

So today, Connecticut will yawn a little and shrug a little and a few more people will enter into a situation that was previously prohibited to them. There will be the little, personal celebrations and a few more people will be happier than they were yesterday. The rest of the people will go on about their lives as if nothing had happened because it's not a big deal.

"No big deal" can be a wonderful phrase sometimes. This, I think, is one of them.

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