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"Civil" Disobedience 

Crank Call

Life conspired to drop me into the raging cauldron of Vermont civil unions last weekend. I suppose it was a baptism by fire, since all our friends here in North Sodom seem to be getting hitched. The invitations are pouring in — I don’t know what to wear! My sister, a wedding photographer, reports brisk sales in the "GLBTQA" demographic. But somebody had better come up with some new acronyms, quick, because I’m running out of ideas.

What am I supposed to say to other couples in the future? "Oh, Mr. Kurth, how nice to meet you. And Mr. Kurth!" Do I say "groom and groom," bride, partner or what? Is there or should there be any transfer of patriarchal names along with insurance and death benefits? Surely all those Moms I see flying around in vans are using their own names by now? Yes? No?

Oh, dear. On the subject of civil unions, I feel like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. The Duchess will have my whiskers! I can see all points of view, even the hateful, ugly, stupid, Christian ones, the sincerity of anyone’s private belief being equal, I suppose, to anyone else’s. This is why we have a Constitution, but leave that aside. Personally, I wouldn’t get married again if they outlawed it completely, which is the only thing that could make it appealing to me. My partner, bless his heart, feels the same way, and besides, neither of us wants to assume the other’s health-care bills.

I suspect that many of my "G" and "L" friends — and, let’s face it, they’re the only GLBTQA folk I actually know — are tying the knot at this juncture out of solidarity and support for the civil-union law. I say "at this juncture" because those animals in Montpelier, who can’t get sex off their minds, have been on the attack. Damned if the House didn’t try to outlaw gay marriage, defining which person with which body can marry what person with a different body, just so long as they are different. This puts all the stress of marriage on sex, an odd position for religious people. They’re all different, believe me.

I have this for a fact, as I used to encounter so many married men in places where gay men congregate. It may have been dark, but the glint of gold was always there, on their fingers or in their frightened eyes. I don’t meet these men anymore, but that’s because I don’t meet anyone anymore. Except the other night when, in my first venture out in decades, I swear, I also attended my first civil union.

I could call it a civil-union "ceremony," the way other people talk about marriage or wedding ceremonies. But it was more than that, because it was, you know, legal. So it wasn’t just a ceremony. That’s only assumed to be the case at marriages and weddings, I believe, just as the bride and the groom are only assumed to be male and female, and to desire only each other in the, uh, biological way.

Anyhow, my partner and I went to this really lovely civil union Saturday night, done up just the way guys like it, with a harpist, a waiter to die for and candles floating in little bowls. It was a departure from the commitment ceremonies of the past, of which I’ve been to plenty, thank you. It was a departure because it had something those others didn’t, which is legitimacy, and the shared knowledge of legitimacy. Only those who never had it can know what legitimacy is and does. Ask any "bastard."

Now, as I said, I’m against marriage, and I have been ever since I got divorced. This is no comment on anyone else’s life, as I hope they know, but I’m entitled to my opinions because this is America, and because — well, this is America. If it weren’t, we’d be a lot quicker out of this civil-union thicket, as they are, or shortly will be, in all civilized countries.

Get this: Paris, France, has an openly gay mayor! In China, they’ve taken homosexuality off the list of psychiatric disturbances and handed it over to consumers — gay sex may be dirty, but there’s nothing wrong with it. (Got that?) In Holland, thanks to pressure from a lot of Ls, I imagine, the sex-and-gender thing has been removed from all lawful coupling. Now, anyone who gets married in Holland, or united in a civil way, is automatically a "spouse" (rhymes with louse).

In the meantime, an email from "VFTMTF" and "VCULDF" — please, there isn’t room — alerts me to the attempt of Rep. Peg Flory (R-Awful), chair of our House Judiciary Committee, to overturn Vermont’s civil-union law by replacing it with "reciprocal partnerships." I’m to fight this by showing up in Montpelier wearing my "pink sticker." Alas, I’ll be "out of town."

Rep. Flory says she wants her bill to take "sexual orientation" out of law. I want them to take it out of everything — or, rather, put it back where it was, make it "personal" again. And make it a little dangerous, too, please, because that was half the fun and most of the excitement.

For that matter, I wish John and I could adopt our cats and leave them everything, since they already have it. I speak as an "elder" here. If they’ve come up with a word to describe "a fiftyish homophile male who doesn’t give a damn," it’s a word I could use in the same way "crone" is used to describe… well, ask a crone.

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Peter Kurth

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