Gay men not rushing to altar

Posted: Sep 03, 2003 12:00 AM

Homosexuals can't have it both ways, and I don't mean because it would technically make them bisexual.

The Sunday New York Times ran a startling front-page story over Labor Day weekend. It was startling as much for its content as for its location. The New York Times, which has been one of the English-speaking world's most adamant advocates of gay marriage, ran a story incontrovertibly hostile to the idea. The story made all of the points that conservative opponents of gay marriage have been making for years.

The Times' story noted an interesting development north of the border: Now that gays are free to marry, not many of them want to.

Between June 10, when a Canadian court legalized gay marriage, and Aug. 25, only 590 gay and lesbian couples had applied for gay marriage licenses in Toronto. And, reports the Times, more than a hundred of those were Americans who crossed the border. Toronto, by the way, is the home of Canada's largest homosexual population - I'm talking numerically, I don't mean that only gay dudes who shop at "Big and Tall" stores live in Toronto.

The reason for this surprising reluctance on the part of gay men to marry is that, well, many gay men don't want to get married.

The Times reporter, Clifford Krauss, finds all sorts of homosexual men who are perfectly willing to denigrate the institution of marriage. Most of the men simply "don't believe" in monogamy.

The editor of Fab magazine, a leading Canadian gay publication, tells Krauss, "I'd be for marriage if I thought gay people would challenge and change the institution and not buy into the traditional meaning of 'till death do us part' and monogamy forever. We should be Oscar Wildes and not like everyone else watching the play."

A special issue of Fab dedicated to the gay marriage scene in Toronto also included a cautionary essay by sociologist Rinaldo Walcott. He complained that marriage might just be too boring for homosexuals. "I can already hear folks saying things like: 'Why are bathhouses needed? Straights don't have them,'" he wrote. "Will queers now have to live with the heterosexual forms of guilt associated with something called cheating?"

"Something called cheating"?

What such cutely ironic post-modern quips reveal is that many in the gay community don't really mean it when they say they want access to the institution of marriage.

First of all, it's not "something called cheating," it's cheating, pure and simple. I have no doubt that most homosexuals understand perfectly well what cheating is and understand that the concept applies to all sorts of relationships. Pretending otherwise may seem clever or enlightened, but such word games are astoundingly stupid.

Why? Well, because marriage is an institution of rules. If pro-gay marriage activists aren't liars, they should respect those rules and not seek to undermine them. Pro-same-sex marriage advocates, including the editorial board of The New York Times, constantly compare gays to blacks under Jim Crow. They flatly assert that male-male unions are directly analogous to white-black marriages in the days when racial intermarriage was illegal.

I've never thought such comparisons were sound, and this story demonstrates why. No blacks denounced the concept of monogamy in their struggle to do away with anti-miscegenation laws. When Jackie Robinson fought his way into professional baseball, he didn't want to change the rules of the game. He wanted the rules to apply to him to. The same goes for integrating the army, the schools, etc.

Perhaps it's a sign of how far the pro-gray marriage argument has progressed that The New York Times now feels comfortable to float stories more or less undermining the idea of gay marriage. Until recently all good liberals - gay and straight - had to be on the same page, saying that gays are just like everybody else.

And, yes, I know from talking to homosexuals that many gays do, in fact, feel that way. But some gay activists see marriage as a kind of prison they'd like to dismantle, and conservatives who suggested otherwise were branded as bigots and homophobes who "just don't get it."

Well, if the activists think marriage can still be something called marriage, after the folks at Fab magazine rewrite all the rules, then they are the ones who just don't get it.