Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The New York Times Publishes Same-Sex Weddings

When I crawled out of bed the next morning and grabbed the newspaper off the front porch before my loved ones awoke, I saw that there was no need for us to tell anyone in town that we’d gotten married. The whole front page of the paper was wedding announcement enough, even without our names. There were editorials, letters to the editor, feature stories, personal interest pieces, and photographs. I turned to my daily dose of comics, and avoided the issue while I could.
But it occurred to me, were we going to send in a wedding announcement? What would it say? Did we have to?

Then I wondered, if we did send one in, would the Oregonian even print it under Weddings, or under their recently added Commitments section, since we were a same-sex couple? Would they change their existing policy, wait until the dust clears, or until the issue goes to the State Supreme Court? They’d have to declare a policy because announcements were going to pour in.
The New York Times made their decision in the summer of 2002 to include same-sex wedding announcements, legal or no.

At the time it was a tiny, three-paragraph blurb in the Oregonian that caught my attention as I reeled over my morning beverage from yet another story about a kidnapped child turning up dead. It had been a hell of a summer that way. The headline read “New York Times will print news of same-sex unions,” announcing the about-face of the New York Times, who would recognize us gay folks in the Sunday Styles section, after earlier refusing to do so, along with other notables being wed.

I thought, as I slurped my decaf, “It’s about time.”

Jannine, upon hearing the news, said that the mystery was why they weren’t doing it long ago, printing announcements of our unions. She had a point.

It was New York after all: home of Stonewall, home of the biggest gay pride parade going, home of Rudy Giuliani staying with gay pals when his former marriage unraveled, home of fashion week, and true seasons, and rules involving the wearing of white. Unions must be celebrated every day, and not just between Joe Blow and Bill Doe, but between city official X and socialite J, with all the trimmings, weddings that should make the paper (if any wedding is really news), whether the couple is gay, straight or in-between.

That morning I took it as a beacon of hope, a sign that the world was finally adapting to our existence, and that we wouldn’t forever have to sit back and accept our second-class citizenship with a smile.

Naturally, the New York Times left itself room to maneuver, the article stated that the couples featured would be selected “under the same criteria used to choose the weddings: the newsworthiness and accomplishments of the couples and their families.”

This had me worried at the time, considering the moral and ethical effect this might have on same-sex couples in New York City: would they suddenly become obsessed with making it into The Times like their straight counterparts? Would big, glamorous weddings involving wedding planners, live swans, and Annie Liebovitz behind the lens become de rigueur? Would the gay scions of wealthy families who vacation at Martha’s Vineyard (or wherever the vacation spot is these days, I’m a west coaster and middle class, so what do I know?) suddenly become pressured to find a nice boy and settle down, so Mummy could have her moment of glory? Would the formerly embarrassing dyke daughters of politicians be introduced to pretty debutantes in the hopes of a mutually beneficial alliance? Would gay and lesbian singles suddenly be pawns in the game of Society Life, like their straight siblings before them?But my sympathy for the wealthy scion sons and Society daughters pressured into same-sex alliances didn’t last long. From this coast, it seemed a small price for them to pay so the rest of us could pick up the paper, and think, “Now, this is progress!”

No comments: