I saw a clip of Ellen Degeneres today, so upset she had trouble catching her breath. Why was she so upset? Because the vice presidential candidate of the party of small government, of states rights, of "getting government out of your way," thinks that defining marriage is more important than that all-important issue of abortion. That's right, Sarah Palin has said that abortion should be decided at the state level, but apparently the definition of marriage is so important that it requires that the United States Congress rewrite the Constitution.
I don't know Ellen, I've never met Ellen, I don't even watch Ellen. One of the things I do know about Ellen is that she's married. Ellen fell in love with another human being and she promised to love, honor and cherish that human being for the rest of her life. I'm very happy for her. Thrilled for her, in fact. But, mostly, I don't care. It doesn't change my life one bit. Not at all. It certainly doesn't change the way I feel about my wife or my marriage. And that's exactly how it should be.
There is not a culture on earth, not a culture in history that hasn't created and replicated an elaborate celebration for marriage. We use traditional vows or we write our own, we have bridesmaids and groomsmen, we use priests or rabbis or clerics or our college roommate ordained for a dollar on the internet. We arrive by limo, parachute and elephant. We dance in circles, sing in ancient languages, and throw bouquets. We embarrass ourselves silly and we love every minute of it. And why? Why do we do it? Why do we create so much hoopla over two people promising to love each other? Because, like ducks and wolves and lions, we are creatures who mate for life. Because we know how rare love is, how hard it is to find someone who we can love and who loves us back, and because most of us are such a pain in the ass to live with that the mere fact that anyone is willing to put up with us deserves a party.
Maybe sometimes this marriage thing doesn't work out, but the mere hope that it will, the mere assumption that it could, brings us back every time. We stream into our churches and synagogues, mosques and cathedrals to watch the people we love shout it at the top of their lungs. And let me tell you this, if you love someone enough to pledge your devotion to them until the end of time in front of everyone that means anything to you, then there is only one thing the rest of us should do. Applaud.
We shouldn't be deciding who can and who can't be in love, who can and who can't declare their love before their God, and who can and can't declare their love before their society and their government. Love is too rare to limit it, too elusive to rein it in, and too important to want to.
And for you Californians, VOTE NO ON PROP 8.
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