The Most Pressing Civil Rights Issue of Our Time

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Dec 26, 2006 2:53 PM

All right, here's the deal. If you're pro-gay-marriage, fine. Convince the American public or the people in your state that it's a good idea, and get it voted in by the duly elected legislature instead of shoved down people's throats via judicial fiat.

But acting as if it's the greatest civil rights issue of our time is just silly, which is why civil rights warriors of the past are offended by the comparison. For instance, this is not what oppression looks like:

McKee, 34, sank $60,000 into his Scottish-themed nuptials, worth it he says for the chance to stand before a minister and be pronounced husband -- and husband.

Even as lawmakers across the nation debate legislation banning same-sex marriage, couples are uniting in weddings both miniature and massive, fueling a growing industry peddling everything from pink triangle invitations to same-sex cake toppers.

Vendors say attention to the marriage issue has encouraged more gay couples to recognize their relationships, though in most states the ceremonies are purely sentimental.

"For the longest time, there was so much shame and privacy around it that people didn't really give themselves permission to have ceremonies like this," said Kathryn Hamm, an Arlington-based wedding consultant who planned McKee's ceremony with partner Nopadon Woods. "[Now] the market is growing as the headlines remain out there."

The market responds. Instead of the love that dare not speak its name, it is the love that can have its name embroidered on any number of wedding knick-knacks. And, the byline on this story is Richmond, Va., not Massachusetts or San Francisco.

I don't mean to suggest that same-sex cake toppers mean all is hunky dory in every way for gays in America, but I do suggest that a "gay marriage industry" precludes the notion that we're living in some dark, frightening age for homosexuals due to the machinations of the religious right and the Bush "regime." We're just not.