High-profile celebrity civil commitment ceremony: check. Quaint British setting (the same location as Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles’ ceremony in April): check. Crowds of paparazzi: check. Almost as many everyday well-wishers: check.
Only, the couple is Elton John and David Furnish, and for some reason, in the UK (and in Canada, and in a number of other Western countries) it just really isn’t that big of a deal. “He’s a queen, but he’s our queen,” one Brit cracked, as she held aloft a banner congratulating the couple. When the first ceremonies were held in Belfast (Belfast! ! !) on Monday, there were a number of protesters, to be sure. But I didn’t see a single torch, pitchfork, or gibbet.
Meanwhile, politicians in this country do everything in their power to make sure that not only gay weddings, but any law or resolution that sanctions same-sex relationships, is a crime against the state. You are made to feel like a felon (or worse, as though you are un-American) for wanting to visit your partner if he’s incapacitated and winds up in a hospital bed.
There was a long article in last Sunday’s Washington Post Magazine about a two-woman couple from Fredericksburg, Virginia who left the state for Maryland because of that state’s restrictive laws against same-sex couples. The reporter had an online exchange with readers after the story appeared, and along with the expected rage from those who questioned why so much space and time was wasted on a same-sex couple (and, as well, the surprising numbers of Virginians who expressed their regret that the couple left the state) were a few messages from readers who said that they knew gay people and thought they were “nice” but didn’t see why they should be making such a fuss.
I can actually muster more comprehension for the messages from the people who said that all gays currently living in Virginia should pack their bags and leave the commonwealth (with good riddance).