“Same-sex couples rushed to wed early Monday morning, the first day they could legally do so in New Jersey. … Mayors in some places performed ceremonies after the stroke of midnight Sunday for couples looking to tie the knot as soon as possible.” The Wall Street Journal, October 22
Dear Same-Sex Knot-Tying Devotees,
You were with me in spirit those many years ago when I got married at City Hall. You were my anti-establishment role models, giving me tacit permission to show up in black velvet pants and a tweed jacket instead of a cloud of white netting. The Good Ex, my soon-to-be spouse and I waited in vinyl chairs for our number to be called, and when we walked into the nuptial room, the only thing I noticed was the round patch of rug sewn over the carpet at the foot of the ceremonial podium where countless of betrothed had worn it down, standing before a city functionary declaring their love.
And you were there when I got divorced, reminding me that wedding vows can have shelf life and happiness doesn’t need to stand on ceremony. I spent summer weekends with you on Fire Island and went to the theatre with you and out to dinners where the conversation trumped the food. I was grateful to your queer eye for rescuing the straight guy’s ineptitude and for your canny perspective on coupling when my romantic adventures went south.
I especially admired the way you went about your relationships compared to my straight friends. You weren’t sprayed with couple’s fixative causing you to socialize forever in tandem. You didn’t need to finish each other’s sentences. You didn’t have to argue about your mother coming to visit because she thought you were in love with the beard you took to family weddings. You weren’t all smoochy in public, saving your unleashed passions for the bedroom or wherever you happened to have sex, because you were definitely having more of it.
You seemed happier until you weren’t and then you went your separate but equal ways. Outsiders, you answered to your own rules. Not caught in the swift, unswerving current of the mainstream, you charted your own course.
So before you flock to the altar I fled from, The Sultanette offers pre-nup counseling:
Research, please. In a ten-year $1 million study of 1,000 same-sex couples and their straight married siblings begun in 2000 by San Diego State University, the same-sex couples reported “higher levels of happiness in their relationships than straight couples.” According to an International Herald Tribune piece by Tara Parker-Pope, “The gay couples were more likely to feel that they could confide in their partners, experience high levels of affection and be happier with their sex lives.”
There’s more. The same-sex couples won the tally on “far less conflict than heterosexual couples” and “higher levels of intimacy.” Okay, we’ve always suspected that you were screwing like rabbits but we had the corner on intimacy. It was our justification for staying together long after the question, “How do you want it” got replaced by “What do you want for dinner?”
Had enough? Lurking in the study’s findings is the notion that a gay relationship is by nature a different negotiation because those of the same sex find it easier to communicate and share perspectives. “One reason same-sex couples may report more satisfaction and less conflict,” Parker-Pope suggests, ”is that their relationships tend to be less defined by traditional roles.”
Nom de Plume, a pre-harem friend and member of The Male Harem’s gay contingent, told me the other night over burgers at a local singles saloon that some of the most interesting and open conversations he’s had with men were at bath houses. Call it the gay version of strangers on a train, he said there’s something about two people standing naked in front of each other that incites, if not lust, frankness.
Applying the Bath House Rule beyond marriage, if only members of congress were required to assemble in the nude, we might finally get some laws passed. (FYI all senators and congressmen are banned from The Male Harem due to their bloviating, false posturing, and complete lack of style.) And who knows what could get accomplished at the U.N.?
Now forgive The Sultanette for coming off short-sighted about your well-deserved demand to have equal rights before the law. I merely ask you to consider the full contract you’re signing on for. Do I have to remind you that the other side of the velvet ropes is never as good as it looks?
“Presumably there are lots of people still married who are miserable,” notes Esther Rothblum, author of the research and professor of women’s studies. “Just because heterosexual couples stay together longer does not mean they are always happy.” It seems that while gay couples reported being happier, they were also more likely to break up. So since you’ve always been the early adapters how about inventing the new marriage mousetrap? If we let you get hitched the least you can do is help us get unhitched.
One caveat: Breaking up will be harder to do. “Now that the marriage laws are becoming more widespread,” says Rothblum, “gay couples will also have to go through the legal process of breaking up.” That sacred knot you’re tying is blessed by the American Bar Association and it will take a gaggle of pricy divorce lawyers to help you untie it.
But if you’re still hell-bent on joining the stampede to the altar, then go out in a big way. Last week, a 3,000 pound copper and tin bell was installed at the New York Public Library to celebrate Bridal Fashion Week. “This bell could be yours!” reads its website, Bellebrations. “To reserve it for your special day, please fill out the form below.” The bell is one-of-a-kind, eco-friendly, and works on compressed air so you can play it anywhere. It tolls for thee.