Until recently my partner Marcus and I had a lot in common with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. OK, not a lot. We are not addressed by a cute moniker that is an amalgam of our two first names, though I'd love it if we were! (I propose "Marken.") We are not rich. Nor do we have a stable of children (or any children, for that matter). There's also the fame factor. Brangelina: extremely. Marken: not so much. We did have one important thing in common with Brangelina, though: All four of us vowed not to wed until the day arrived when all American couples had equal marriage rights.
And now, succumbing to the pressure of their children, Brad and Angelina have set their pledge aside and announced their engagement, which I guess means Marcus and I have nothing in common with them anymore. Despite our many differences, this is not the part of the story where I begin bashing the Jolie-Pitt family for giving up their protest against marriage discrimination. I understand how hard it is to hold out; how nearly impossible it is to say "I won't" until everyone can say "I do"; how strong the desire is to have your relationship recognized and valued by society in the way that it only is when you are married.
I would like to get married, too. And I live in New York, a place where, in the eyes of this state, if not the federal government, same-sex couples can get married. All around me, in spite of some major setbacks, I see signs of hope. Progress has been made. Even President Obama has evolved and now says that my partner and I should have the same rights that he and Michelle have (minus the Secret Service and the amazing pension plan). Moreover, though there are a lot of "ifs," it seems that if Obama is reelected, and if the Democrats take control of both the House and the Senate, maybe the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) will be repealed in the next presidential term. And then I could have the same rights as everybody else!
Well, no, not everybody would have the same rights, because, unfortunately, there are still those 31 pesky states with constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. All those citizens are much further away from the ability to marry legally than I am. It is hard to feel excited about the prospect of getting married when so many cannot. For this reason, Marcus and I will hang on to our resolve to wait.
Holding off on marriage was easier when Brad and Angelina were waiting with us. Every movement needs a leader, and I don't think Marken has the same ability to rally the troops around this issue that they did. What we need are actual, famous straight couples to stand up in support of all those who can't get married. Americans need to turn on Extra and see beautiful celebrities calling off their weddings but not their relationships. And when this movement snowballs, those famous protesting couples need to call their politicians and tell them just how upset this whole inequality thing is making them. Also, it would be extremely helpful if they got Vera Wang on the phone and told her that until everyone can wear one of her dresses, she should stop making them. Wouldn't it be awesome if the bridal registry at Bloomingdales turned into a ghost town?
There must have come a day when people decided that they no longer felt comfortable joining a country club that excluded Jews, so they stopped golfing there. At some point, a white student must have stood up and said, "I will not attend this segregated school another day!" It didn't happen overnight, but when those moments occurred, change began.
I hope the same thing happens with marriage. I know it's a lot to ask of those who already have the right, but just imagine how much more joyous all of our weddings will eventually be if, for now, we all cancel the parties. Let's reschedule them on the day when we can all celebrate.