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To a 'culture war' kid on the eve of her wedding

by Jeremy Hooper

[name redacted],

You don't know me. I don't know you. We are two strangers who, I'd presume, both want to live happy, fulfilled lives.

Three years ago this summer, I married the man I love so dearly, sealing our then–six years of togetherness with the most meaningful step and associated ceremony of either of our lives. Tomorrow, you will take that same step with your one intended spouse and enter into your next phase of a shared journey. It's such powerful stuff, this love thing. Those of us who are lucky enough to find it should respect how special it is.

But you surely know that there are people out there who not only oppose marriages like mine, but who do so in a really vicious way. One person who fits that bill at its highest level happens to be one of your parents. [Name redacted] has carved out a niche in the political sphere as a person who will go to truly low places, taking the rhetoric way beyond disagreement and completely off the radar of open discussion, instead using the harshest words that come to mind to demonize LGBT people in every way imaginable. Your [parent] has almost stopped being offensive because the rhetoric is just that bizarre and over the top. But I do say almost, since your [parent] does have a fairly prominent platform and audience, so there is plenty of room for harm attached to what [he or she] says and does.

I write to you today because I want you to know that I don't hold any of this against you. You are not your parent. You are not a political pawn. You did not sign up for this fight, as best as I can tell. I would never hold any of it against you.

The fact of the matter is that this whole marriage war that I have been tasked with fighting has made me respect the very nature of marriage that much more. And by that, I don't mean "gay marriage"—I mean marriage. Those of us who fight for the freedom to marry have not had the ability, much less the luxury, to take this stuff for granted. We have had to think—deeply, richly, critically—about what marriage means, why it matters, and how it should be recognized by our civil government while still respecting religious freedom. The process has led to a more robust understanding and a greater weight. When that officiant pronounced my husband and I legally married back on the June afternoon, not one iota of the tremendous gravity was lost on me. it couldn't be. And that's exactly how it should be.

Come Monday or whenever your [parent] returns to [his or her] gig, I know that the attacks on homes like mine will return anew. That's okay. I can handle it.

My request to you is that, at some point during your wedding tomorrow, you turn to your [parent] and give [him or her] an extra wide smile. Except this smile won't be from you, as I assume you will have already offered [him or her] a thousand more smiles throughout the day. No, no—this smile will be from me. It will be a message of thanks for the wedding that [he or she] has helped make happen. And I don't mean your wedding—I mean mine. Because the truth is that your [parent's] work has greatly helped a growing number of us on the side of fairness reach our own special days.

Back in New York, I will take a moment and raise my own glass. "Le chaim!" child of this nutty culture war. "Salud!" train of progress that is not going to stop. "Thanks!" aggressive voice of unreason that has only made equality look that much brighter in contrast!


Jeremy Hooper
Good As You

P.S. Have so much fun! It's such a cliché to say that the whole thing goes by in a blink of an eye, but it totally does.

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