A Word in Edgewise

Outside, a group of protesters marched against a celebration of love and steadfastness, while within, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who initially spearheaded the way for same-sex marriages, presided at the wedding of Del Martin, 87, and Phyllis Lyon, 83.

The two first had married in 2004, then saw their vows made null and void. Now, undaunted, the couple, together now for 55 years, once again legally exchanged vows after the California Supreme Court struck the same-sex marriage ban.

There is, of course, a movement to reinstate—to force the thousands of newlyweds in November to wake up to useless pieces of paper, stripped of hopes and equal rights.

While same-sex partners still cannot access hundreds of state and more than 1,000 federal benefits, and many don’t plan to adopt the heterosexual-marriage paradigm, socially acknowledged and sanctioned “marriage” in some form is an institution central to human society.

But marriage should be a choice, to be embraced—or not—by the couple involved. To be barred from childhood from seeking the companionship, love, sharing, and (deo volente) security that union with a loved one can afford is to inflict a cruel and unusual punishment on any individual.

Politicians spout the “No child left behind” mantra, yet are willing to leave some 5 to 10 percent of the population without hope of attaining those spiritual and physical comforts that every human needs to thrive.

The demonstrators, along with George W., are banking on a referendum to amend the state constitution to limit marriage to one man and one woman—something marriage wasn’t even back in the Old Testament days of Abraham (Sarah, Hagar, Katurah, etc.)—which this segment of the populace seems to wish to revive.

Today, five nations—with Norway joining in January 2009—recognize same-sex marriage, while numerous others (Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, The Netherlands, the UK, etc.) extend civil unions and registered partnerships, while others are debating the issue.

Amid all the furor, one elderly lesbian couple exemplifies what marriage represents: commitment to another human being, while continuing to forge a meaningful life within the broader community

Instead of finding ways to bar fellow citizens from adding their energies and talents to the communal pool, the naysayers might flip their Bibles to I Corinthians 13, and doff their dark glasses and view their gay brethren face-to-face.

Gay King James’s translators used the word “charity”; other versions use the word ”love”: Charity/love “beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” Charity/love “never faileth; but where, here be prophecies they shall fail; where there shall be tongues they shall cease; whether there be knowledge it shall vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”

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