Miss Marriage Suggests – The Advocate, 6/20/2004

According to the latest reports from my Weapons of Marriage Destruction inspectors, civilization as we know it is still as steady as she goes. That’s either the good or the bad news.

In my own on-the-ground observation, my siblings and their partners seem to be holding steady. Ditto my straight friends. Once on an express subway, I did sense that a couple sitting across from my partner and me were in some distress, but I could not be sure if our proximity was the cause.

Although J-Lo is on her third husband, there has been no noticeable spike in polygamy. Last I checked, even the Mormon governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Mitt full of shit Romney had not taken on any extra wives.

Each Sunday I scan the New York Times Vows section and so far have not espied pictures of anyone smiling cheek to jowl with a pet. Additionally, there have been no reports of a surge in gift registration at PetCo. Rice, not Kibbles ‘n Bits, is still thrown.

Except for one unfortunate nuptial where an attempt was made to throw Condoleeza Rice, ceremonies have been, by all accounts very well-behaved. Sigh. However, in personal and sub-contracted field research on the civil effect of gay marriage, there are repeated references to extreme social discomfort, again, that mad vow dis-ease. This is to be expected in times of what, for some, is rapid cultural change.

I would like to propose some general etiquette suggestions to smooth out the cultural unsteadiness we are all enduring. It’s also a chance for me to use really stilted passive voice and that nifty etiquettish “we” that Miss Manners and others get to use.

First, it is always preferable to preface the pressure-packed “Didja get married?” with an initial “Hello.” or “How are you?” or even a “How about those Red Sox?” We are amused to observe how our questions have changed – from “Who’s your daddy?” of early gay liberation, to “Who’s the father?” of the baby boom; from the propositional “Do you wanna?” to the proposing “Do you wanna get married?”

Second, such a well-meaning but intrusive question often provoke conversations for which we have not been prepared. In the inevitable back and forth that follows, we recommend couples not use the following lines: “Let’s wait until we can do it in New York State”, “Let’s wait until your mother dies,” or “If you really loved me, you’d be down on your good knee right now.”

Third, a word about hyphenates. If your last name is already hyphenated from your feminist-progressive childhood and you marry a similarly hyphenated other, for the sake of your friends and the cake decorator, we encourage you to drop or combine names. But if, say, a Lyon-Bush marries a Canby-Beaton, by all means keep it and quickly publish those vows.

Fourth, wordlessly waving your newly be-ringed fingered hand like a flopping desperate fish in another’s face is declasse. We are so unaccustomed to admiring each other’s wedding rings, the wildly flailing hand suggests not nuptials but a worrisome tremor of near papal proportions. While we’re on that topic, it’s vulgar to set up that papal wave bye-bye pool unless it’s for a fundraiser for a very good cause. [see five below] Especially if you ever want to receive the Eucharist in your parish again.

Fifth, while it always lovely to receive gifts, we recommend that your wedding registry be a list of national GLBT organizations where your well-wishers can send donations in your name so those groups can continue to fight the inevitable anti-gay marriage initiatives.

Sixth, in all of the above, we encourage everyone to be a little bit more sensitive to single gay people.

Seventh, we would be remiss if we did not clarify for the questioning that if you think you are gay and don’t want to get married, you could still be gay.