Twice-Divorced, Four Children By Two Different Women...
by Dan Savage
on Wed, May 19, 2010 at 11:11 AM
...and a spokesperson for marriage?
If we were talking about a conservative, twice-divorced, four-kids-by-two-different-women politician or preacher, gays and lesbians would be the first to point out—gleefully point out—that this person's private life disqualified him from serving as a spokesperson for marriage, traditional or otherwise. Certainly when Karl Rove, Newt Gingrich, Brit Hume, et al, open their mouths about marriage, we don't hesitate to point to their failed marriages as evidence that they're not to be taken seriously on the subject. But in this instance the person with two failed marriages and four children by two different women is Melissa Etheridge, and... we're okay with her marrying and making babies and divorcing and marrying and making more babies and divorcing again... because she can thoughtfully and persuasively make the case for marriage rights for gays and lesbians. (And, hey, God bless anyone who can pound a little sense into Elisabeth Hasselbeck's thick skull.)
Now don't get me wrong: gays and lesbians should be able to marry and divorce just as often as straight people do. Rachel Maddow should be free to marry and divorce attractive young lesbians at the same clip that Larry King marries and divorces attractive young straight women. And I'm all for legal gay divorce. Access to divorce proceedings—to the equitable division of marital assets, to financial justice for stay-at-home parents, to legally enforceable custody rulings—is an important marital right and its denial to same-sex couples is an injustice. And, hey, the way Melissa Etheridge's marital woes have been covered by magazines like People—that is, no differently than the marital woes of straight celebs—humanizes gay relationships for straight readers, many of whom have experienced failed marriages themselves.
But... still... am I the only homo out there who's a little uncomfortable with Melissa Etheridge being spokesmodel for gay marriage?
And, no, I don't think I should be a spokesmodel for marriage—my column is way too freaky, my positions on monogamy, drugs, adultery, kink, etc., are too out there. This isn't about sour grapes. It's about consistency.