The talk here lately about same sex marriage put me in mind of something I wrote after Bush was elected the second time around. It was about a conversation I had with my son two days after the election, and I was driving my son to school. He was five at the time, and he asked me pretty much out of the blue why George Bush was against gay marriage, I explained to him as simply as I could that there are people who think, many for religious reasons, that only men and women should be able to get married and that these people are afraid of the idea that two men or two women might get married because they think it will destroy the kind of life they believe their god tells them they should live. My son sat quietly for a while and then he started laughing, “It just doesn’t make sense!”
“What doesn’t make sense?”
“The whole thing. I mean everybody is gay. You love your cousins, and some are boys and some are girls, and kids love both their parents.” (His point being, of course, that people of the same sex love each other all the time, and I know he was thinking of his own relationships with his cousins.)
“Well,” I said, “the people who are against gay marriage say that kind of love is okay, but that two men or two women shouldn’t be able to live together like maman and I do and be each other’s partners and have a family.”
“How ridiculous is that?!” He snorted a five-year-old’s snort of ridicule. “Anybody should be able to marry anyone. Look, even those two buildings”–he pointed to two large Manhattan buildings standing side by side–”they’re married to each other. What’s the difference if it’s two men or two women?”
The conversation continued like this for a few more minutes, with him pointing at various people, animals and objects and insisting that they all ought to be able to marry each other in any combination they wanted. I turned around and said to him, “I really like the way you think.” His whole face lit up and it was time to park the car and take him to his classroom.
I often think of that conversation when people try to explain why same sex marriage is so ineluctably wrong, and it still makes me smile and it still gives me hope.