What’s good enough for Tiger…
The fight for gay marriage in the US took yet another blow last Wednesday when the New York state senate voted down a bill that would have allowed same-sex partners to marry in the empire state.
It follows the repeal of gay marriage rights in California last November when voters in a referendum abolished a short-lived law that allowed gay couples to marry there.
The Governator’s state constitution now reads: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.
The majority of Maine voters passed a similar repeal last month.
The recent votes have been a boon to those right-wingers who believe gay unions devalue the institution of marriage. But to them I say, take a look around – you don’t need any help from us in cheapening this particular bond.
Tiger Woods, whose indiscretions have been by far the biggest story in the US for the past two weeks (what troop surge in Afghanistan?), is doing his bit. The golfer’s domestic drama couldn’t have come at a better time to illustrate the absurdity of the “value of marriage” argument against gay unions.
The increasingly bizarre love-decahedron of Monsieur Woods and his mini harem has been a fascinating story to watch unfold. The texts, the emails, the voicemail, the David Boreanaz cameo.
Even I, who publicly protest that Tiger’s “indiscretions” are not real news, have forgone my subway routine – avoid eye contact, breath through mouth, read intellectual-looking novel – to grab a peek at the tabloid covers this week.
My favourite headline? Tiger Admits: I’m A Cheetah.
The Aussie in me has loved the skewering. Among family, friends and decent coffee, the tall poppy syndrome is one of the things I miss most about the homeland.
But more than just giving me a laugh, Tiger’s punch line of a marriage says something about the state of marriage right now and the right of people to enter into it.
As the tide turns against gay marriage across America, people like Woods and the papers that cover him continue to make a mockery of love, honour and all that “death do us part” stuff.
Marriage, whether in tabloid newspapers or on TV shows such as Bridezillas and Australia’s own The Farmer Wants a Wife, is fast becoming a joke.
Staten Island state senator Diane Savino touched on this while talking to the New York senate before the recent vote on gay marriage.
In a speech that has now gone viral across the web, the straight-talking Savino addressed the sanctity of marriage in her thick Noo-Yawk accent.
“What are we really protecting when you look at the divorce rate in our society?” asked the senator. “Turn on the television. We have a wedding channel on cable TV devoted to the behavior of people on their way to the altar. They spend billions of dollars, behave in the most appalling way, all in an effort to be princess for a day… We’re giving away husbands on a game show. You can watch “The Bachelor”, where 30 desperate women will compete to marry a 40-year-old man who has never been able to maintain a decent relationship in his life.”
Savino’s point is salient.
The government happily endorses the right of the Bachelor to marry a bikini-clad opportunist for a month and get a quickie divorce.
Yet it will not provide that same right for a gay couple who have demonstrated their love and commitment for years - not in Sydney, not in Melbourne, not in Maine, not in California, not even in traditionally progressive New York.
It apparently boils down to protecting the value of marriage. (The value of Tiger’s marriage? US$60 million. That’s how much he’s reportedly paying his wife, Elin Nordegren, to stick by him.)
But by voting down the bill on this or whatever basis, the senate here has done nothing to protect the value of equality.
The senate sent a message last week that Australia has always sent to its own gay community: you are not equal.
By not allowing same-sex couples to marry in the exact same way that straight couples do, with the exact same related rights, these governments effectively endorse wider spread feelings in the community that gays are lesser citizens.
And those feelings still exist, even in the world’s most liberal pockets.
Just last week, a friend of mine was coming out of a store when he was pushed and called a “faggot” by a stranger on Broadway, the busiest thoroughfare in the most free-wheeling city on earth.
When asked if he was okay, he simply told me, “It happens.”
He’s not angry about this, but I am. I’m fuming. I’m angry for my friend and I am angry at the message that the senate vote sends to the bloke who pushed him.
If this guy’s representative believes gays aren’t equal, why should he believe they are? His act of discrimination is tacitly endorsed whenever the supposed sanctity of marriage trumps the equal rights of the citizenry in congress or in parliament.
This week’s Tiger-gate headlines show once again how thin that sanctity can be. And yet Tiger will rack up a few more anniversaries with Elin and that Broadway pusher has the right to shotgun it in Vegas tomorrow with a girl he meets tonight.
But loving gay couples that have been together for years and want to tie the knot continue to be the true threat to marriage and its diminishing value.
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