It's been a year since my husband Scott and I were married on television in the first officiated same-sex wedding on late-night TV. The episode of Conan that aired on TBS on Nov. 3, 2011 was nominated for a GLAAD Media Award in 2012. More impressively, our marriage endured the tests of a year's time. The year since we were married brought new challenges personally and politically, and the days that passed index great advances, as well.
President Barack Obama was reelected on Nov. 6, 2012. No longer "evolving" in his position on marriage equality, the president endorsed the right of lesbians and gays to marry in May 2012.
The 2012 election also approved marriage equality in Maine, Maryland and Washington and defeated an anti-marriage-equality ballot proposal in Minnesota. In October, just a month before the election, the annual study by GLAAD found more "out" characters on television than ever recorded before.
As someone who was married in a different state by an ordained celebrity on a TV comedy show, I am aware of the politics and bias brought to any discussion of marriage. Defined as a registered domestic partner in California, but as a husband in other legal contexts, I also know what the civil ceremonies (rituals, performances) do and don't accomplish.
We need to continue legal discussions across international, federal and state discrepancies. We must scrutinize historical perspectives and religious interpretations. More recently, we've had to consider the inundation of aesthetic responses to the heated political issue. These responses include cyber performances on YouTube, guerilla activism around corporations such as Chick-fil-A, reality TV shows, documentary film, and theater pieces such as Dustin Lance Black's play 8. We must also consider the frequent omission of "lesbian" in the terminology of "gay marriage" that runs through the rhetoric of some of these responses, a telling oversight.
Hypervisibility can be an indicator of social progress to come. Still, the political conditions of marriage, gay and straight, remain a total mess. Competing interpretations of federal and state laws have created unjust, lengthy and frustrating obstacles. Taxes are a complicated endeavor in light of such disparity. All the while, guests are growing tired of attending fabulous gay weddings, even though gay weddings cannot yet back down from their fight to exist!
Last week Scott was finally able to cover me under his health insurance plan. While we were married in New York, we delayed registering as domestic partners in California until April 2012. (We happened to be notarized at a Los Feliz location claiming to be Walt Disney's first studio.) Since we hold inferior status in the eyes of the law, we were forced to wait for coverage for a period of six months from the date of our notarized application to the Secretary of State. Now, with an expensive premium, I am insured through my spouse -- er, domestic partner.
In the meantime, straight friends of ours who eloped to Las Vegas, Nev., were immediately eligible for coverage the following day. Their marriage is recognized in California, and the couple's benefits were provided for free, without question. In New York straight friends of ours who are politically opposed to marriage registered as domestic partners, but their insurance only covers domestic partners of the same sex. Opposite-sex couples have to be married to be eligible for coverage.
This picture is totally confusing. Apparently the technology of high-definition TV has recently given way to 3D and ultra-high definition. It's also time for high gay visibility to clearly give way to action.