Well, it certainly is a good thing that the California Supreme Court didn’t announce their decision on gay marriage until this week — after the crucial season finale for my favorite, totally PC, dopey, feel good, Sunday night soap — Brothers and Sisters. As fellow fans know, last week neurotic lawyer Kevin had a commitment ceremony with his boyfriend Scotty, a waiter who aspires to be a chef. His putatively conservative sister, played by Callista Flockhart, who is married to a putatively conservative GOP Senator from California, officiated. (I bet there are no conservative writers on this show, since the conservatives, to be considered good people, have had to renounce both opposition to gay marriage and support for the Iraq war.) Had gay marriage been legal even a mere few days ago, what would the writers have done in place of all of the poignant, “I want this to mean something because it’s the closest we are ever going to come to marriage,” speeches? And, how would they have filled the time devoted to the subplot where Scotty’s parents refuse to come to the commitment ceremony/wedding because they are narrow-minded, religious bigots who claim to love their son, but that can’t be true because they find the notion of a male-male “wedding” a mockery of what they believe in?
I know this post is conflating a deeply problematic political reality and a fictional, barely middle-brow chick TV series. On the other hand, this – poignant commitment ceremonies broadcast in prime time, between flawed male lovers in a family where all the marriages have proved something between imperfect and a charade and yet celebrate family — this is how the culture changes. The more you show normal, gay men whose lives are admirable, who have families that love them, who embody the normal mix of complex human strengths and weaknesses — the more familiar and benign it all seems. Even if there are perfectly good reasons to oppose calling anything other than a one-man, one-woman union, with procreation as a core goal, a marriage.
It is possible that the people of California will roll back this judicial fiat. And it is possible that the states will pass whatever configuration of Defense of Marriage Acts and even perhaps a constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage — though I am not sure that will stop anyone from going ahead with the marriage-like hoopla. I’m hoping that my embittered countrymen, clinging to their God and guns, will defeat candidates who flout their values. But I’d bet on the power of the TV writers, the movie directors, the novelists, and the ad guys any day. After all, who wants to oppose Love?