…Last week, President Obama declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional and instructed the Department of Justice to stop enforcing it. It was a moment to exalt—the second such gay-rights milestone in only two months, coming on the heels of landmark legislation to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. But lost in the euphoria was an awkward truth that gay people don’t like to talk about: Gay marriage feels weird. In fact, many of us, myself included, don’t feel very comfortable with it at all.
A few years ago, before California, before Iowa, when in early 2004 Massachusetts was all set to blaze this improbable trail, I had gay and straight friends congratulating me left and right. They all wanted to know how excited I was about the news. I could only shrug and reply, “That’s great, but I don’t think marriage is for me.” People reacted to my ambivalence as if I had just burned an American flag. How could I turn my back on the centerpiece of the modern gay-rights movement? My personal relationship choice had suddenly become a political stand.
But it’s not just me. For all the effort we’ve put into fighting for the right to do it, the dirty little secret is that many gays are simply not sure about same-sex marriage. Of course we believe in equality. But when it comes to marriage, our personal relationship with the idea is tenuous. Growing up in a society where most of the marriages around me failed bitterly or were one of multiple (because the only thing better than one “special day” is five), I’m turned off by the whole idea.