Why Marriage Matters :: A Principal Marker of Civil Equality
I’m fortunate enough to have two mentors who’ve helped me become the person I am today. These two men also happen to be a couple, together for over fifty years. When they met, they were both working in the same office in Manhattan, and in order to keep people off the scent, they traveled to work separately every morning. Of course, no one could be openly gay back in the 1950s-not only was it dangerous, but it was actually illegal to be partaking in what was then deemed "lewd and dissolute behavior."
A lot had changed by the time I met these men in the 1990s. When I was introduced to these guys, they were living together openly, splitting their time between New York and the Hamptons. While they didn’t "advertise" their relationship, it was widely known they were a couple. They shared an apartment in the city, a house in the country, and went everywhere as a pair. They ran a successful business, were involved in professional groups, sponsored charities and held witty gatherings over fabulous dinners. And despite all this, the possibility that they could actually marry never even crossed their minds.
As mentors, they had taken on the great responsibility of teaching me and my partner all the essentials of gay life in New York: the clubs, cabarets and bistros; the joys of Stephen Sondheim, Elaine Stritch, and Bobby Short; the secrets of how to wear a suit properly, and of how to throw an enviable dinner party. These two were also the most dedicated and enjoyable couple you’d ever want to meet. Yet they never even considered how marriage might be important to them.