Writing in response to U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman's historic ruling last Friday that voided Michigan's homophobic ban on same-sex marriage, Mitch Albom recently asked in The Detroit Free Press if we were better off for the ruling.
Of course he meant it rhetorically. He clearly thinks we're not, and he's wrong. Dead wrong.
We're better off because the state presented a laughably amateurish case. Thanks to the judge's rigorous decision, anti-equality prejudice, bigotry and shoddy research were exposed for exactly what they are.
We're better off because this decision joins others across the country to create a body of rulings that will very likely impact other cases and other judges, thanks to its detailed, tough conclusions.
We're better off because gay people around the country and their allies were heartened that one more barrier to their complete participation in civil society was demolished.
We're better off because Michigan typically makes the news for problems like Detroit's epic decay; it's fantastic to see our state hailed for joining the march to freedom for gays and lesbians.
We're better off because every gay man and lesbian in Michigan state could feel, however briefly, that they were no longer second-class citizens whose relationships don't count in the eyes of the law.
I'm sorry Mitch doesn't see that. I'm sorry he didn't use his column and his fame to do more than kvetch about divorce. I'm sorry he assumes that America's general interest in marriage will decline to levels seen in France or Netherlands (hey, what about Belgium?).
I'm sorry he felt the bizarre urge to predict that gay people would end up divorcing as frequently as straight people do. Even if that's true, so what? Gay people shouldn't get married because they could increase the divorce rate? What kind of farkakteh argument is that? Then why not ban people who've already been divorced, since they've set such a bad precedent and chances are they'll do it again? And who made Mitch Albom Connubial Arbiter, anyway?
I'm also sorry that he could write "In the end, folks just don't want to feel threatened or bullied. Many gays have long felt bullied by society; many heterosexuals now feel bullied by a new ideology."
That observation is another one of those phony journalistic equivalencies that plague his profession. How can he buy into the notion that people seeking equal protection under the law is a "bullying ideology"?
The push for marriage equality isn't remotely toxic, but prejudice against gay people in this is. And so is the complaint that somehow -- mysteriously, magically -- marriage equality will undermine marriage "as we know it." Toxic and just plain illogical.
What makes it all even more disappointing is the fact that Albom's personal website urges support for a handful of charities. And yet he can't be charitable when it comes to gay people who aren't bullying anyone and don't want special rights, but only want something he already enjoys: marriage.
It might be time for him to re-read the Bill of Rights. Seeking redress of grievances is enshrined in one of our founding documents, and that's what the drive for marriage equality is all about. The colonists weren't bullies, and neither are supporters of gays and lesbians getting married.
Lev Raphael is the author of 24 books in genres from memoir to mystery: http://www.levraphael.com.
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