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Friday, September 9, 2005

A Party… In the Park?

Posted by on September 9 at 11:38 AM

So Lambda Legal, the Northwest Women’s Law Center, and the ACLU are planning a celebration when the Washington State Supreme Court releases its decision on gay marriage. Planning a celebration when we don’t know if the decision is going to be pro-gay marriage seems a bit jinxy, but it’s best to be prepared.

They’d like the Stranger to be a part of the celebration somehow, just as we were part of the push to get gay marriage on the Supreme Court’s plate. But we’re going to give the planned party a pass, I think, based on its location: Volunteer Park.

This is one gay party that should be downtownat the County Building or our new City Hall. This decision, if it goes our way, is about full civic equality for Washington state’s gay and lesbian citizens, and the celebration should take place in a shared civic space, not in a park in the gay neighborhood where gay men have sex in bushes. Even if people can’t get their marriage licenses immediately after the decision is handed down, the celebration should be in a civic space, not the gay ghetto.

I think Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the Northwest Women’s Law Center should call Ron Sims and Greg Nickels. Sims stood in the door to welcome the couples who were suing him into the county building, remember? Nickels issued executive orders forcing city agencies to recognize legal gay marriages performed in other states. Surely there’s a reception room in the huge County Building, or one in the new City Hall, that would be more appropriate to the occasion than Volunteer Park. Sims and Nickels, who have both been excellent on the gay marriage issue, should be the hosts and guests of honor at the party celebrating the decision. They should throw open the doors again and invite the city’s gay and lesbian community to come down to these civic spaces, spaces our tax dollars helped construct, and celebrate our civic equality. This isn’t a “gay ghetto” moment, it’s a mainstreaming moment, and the event being planned to mark it should reflect that.

And what if it rains, for crying out loud? And, from a strategic POV, it’s easier to fill a room, even a large one, than it would be to fill the park. If TV cameras come, the park, even with a couple of hundred people in it, will look empty. What will that communicate? That gays and lesbians don’t really care about marriage rights. The same number of people packed into a reception room at City Hall, will look like a joyful mob, not a half-assed clump.

And, again, what if it rains?

I think The Stranger should do something when the decision comes down, but we shouldn’t attach ourselves to something stupid, or to an event that fundamentally misunderstands the symbolism and importance of the day. Let’s host a party the night before the first gay marriages are - knock wood - performed. We can make it a benefit for the organization that gets the celebration right.