Your marriage ain't my business:Controversy over gay unions obscures bigger concerns

My mom and dad were married in a Catholic church and stayed together 27 years, until the old man died young, 57, of a lung disorder.

My dad could be a difficult guy. I asked Mom once, years later, if she'd ever considered divorce.

"Murder yes, divorce never," she said, laughing.

My mom waited almost two years after Dad's demise, and then married my stepfather. Also a Catholic (widower). Also in church.

Their marriage lasted 23 years. Until he died. Heart trouble.

My sister Karen married my brother-in-law Jim in a Catholic church in 1971. They are still together.

On a visit out here last fall with 85-year-old Mom, Jim and Karen were walking around holding hands.

Except for the publisher of this newspaper, I don't have any real friends out here who have been married for two decades or more.

My 12-year marriage ended badly and acrimoniously in 1986, as most regular readers of this column know.

I lived with someone else for six years, but never married again.

That second relationship ended when I failed to even try to tie the knot. She and I stayed friends. She's happily engaged to someone else now.

Most of the folks I know well here are divorced or never married at all.

Granted, most of my close friends - in Seattle and points west of Cincinnati, where I grew up in a mostly ethnic (Irish and German), mostly Catholic neighborhood - have been writers, painters, reporters, bartenders, criminal defense attorneys, cops and ex-convicts. But still.

Marriage is hard. Staying married is even harder in today's debased American pop-culture muddle.

Divorce is hard, expensive and, at least initially, tough on most kids.

But even if I've ceded the field, I still support marriage for other people. Including gays.

Now, I'm straighter than John Wayne. Most of my friends are straight.

But I have a few gay male friends. And my best female friend in Seattle is a lesbian who is way out of the closet.

Of course, it's easier for a straight guy to accept lesbians, sometimes. I love women's bodies, and the idea of two women together can be a turn-on to most males, even if we don't always admit it.

The idea of two men together sexually isn't all that congenial to my inner eye. But that's simply because I am wired differently.

My way is not better necessarily.

Not physically.

And certainly not morally.

Gay people have every right to be turned on by what turns them on, the same as straight people.

This past summer in a nearby county, I covered the criminal trial of an adult male, a police officer in his 30s, who allegedly seduced his just barely (13) teenaged babysitter. A female.

Even the people calling for him to be jailed didn't accuse all deputies of being child molesters.

The vitriolic letters to the editor recently appearing in many local newspapers - claiming that allowing gay marriage will open the gates to pedophilia - represent exactly the same kind of stupidity exhibited 30 years ago by whites in Cincinnati who wrote letters opposing integration in the schools because supposedly all black men really wanted to do was to sleep with white women.

Prejudice is stupid and mean - AND WRONG - no matter at whom the stupidity and meanness is pointed.

Gay people ought to be allowed to be married.

Two people committed to each other, especially those who have already lived together for years, cannot be excluded from the joys (and painful failures,) of legally wedded union because some bigot interprets God's word in a fashion that suits his or her fears and prejudices.

If a man lives with another man for 20 years and then dies, should the family of the deceased have the final say in funeral arrangements, place of burial, cremation or no? The disposition of the money, if there is any?

The answer is obviously no.

Gay people have to work to earn money.

Gay people have to pay rent.

Gay people have died in the electric chair for committing capital murder.

And plenty of gay people died fighting for America in both world wars, Korea and Vietnam. Not to mention our current mess in the Middle East.

So gay people sure as hell ought to be able to legally marry in this so-called free country.

I'm much more concerned with where Social Security is going and why we are involved in a war not declared by Congress than I am about who sleeps with who and what their marital status is.

I think making gay marriage an issue right now is a cheap political ploy by the Fascists in charge, an attempt to take the small-minded ones' little minds away from the declining economy, rising unemployment, the outsourcing (that means giving and driving them away) of American jobs as well as the overwhelmingly reduced opportunities for folks to climb from the bottom of our society to even the middle while giving our collective future away to the already rich.

If both people involved in any proposed marriage are over 21 and mentally competent, then their attempted union is none of my business. Or yours.

Leave them alone, wish 'em luck and watch them try to stay married. It ain't all that easy.

Dennis Wilken can be reached at

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