CosmiComedy: I Do! I Do!
By Lavinia Plonka
My friends Ken and Bill got married a couple months ago. After living together for 18 years, they dashed to City Hall and tied the knot along with thousands of other same-sex couples who burst the dam of the Defense of Marriage act and flooded our society with new possibilities. Things changed so quickly Americans have been left breathless, many people scrambling to declare that of course they never had an issue with people’s gender and romantic choices. One of my clients, a law professor and author, has been re-writing her text book on civil rights cases which has been used in law schools for the last twenty years. After repeatedly updating the chapter on same-sex unions this year, she and her editors have given up and gone to press. The changes are so fast and numerous, they’ve decided that the chapter will just stand as an historical document instead of something that defines current policy … I love when history re-writes itself.
As high ranking Republican politicians and Evangelical Christian ministers admitted that yes, they had gay offspring, the righteous house of cards came tumbling down and at cocktail parties throughout the US, you heard people saying, “I think same sex couples probably make better parents than some of those idiots who get married and reproduce because they don’t know how to do anything else,” and “Why, throughout history and in nature, homosexuality and even transgender people have been part of society.” (True conversations overheard, egad.)
It seems everyone wants to take credit for this paradigm shift. And of course there are sociologists who think it’s just the result of the “tipping point.” But I think we are just following Planet Earth’s command. She looked around at all the madness in the world and thought, “Where is someplace I can sow peace and harmony that will improve the economy, brighten the entertainment horizon, get some more interesting people into government and restructure the decaying nuclear family?” And then, because Planet Earth is so much more intelligent and powerful than we give her credit for, she took a deep breath and sent rainbow vibes across the US that will hopefully travel globally within a few years.
The economic boom has already begun. Just google “gay wedding planner” and hundreds of new businesses pop up: from gayweddingplanner.com to Rainbow Wedding Network Magazine. Palm Springs is working to position itself as a gay wedding destination. And one can only imagine the businesses that will thrive as these couples have families, buy houses, make investments. I look forward to the next century (heck if things keep changing this fast, life extension is also possible!) to see if all these new unions create new vocabularies so that we’re not stuck with words like “husband” and “wife.”
And why stop with just same-sex unions? It seems more change is afoot. On NPR the other day, Robert Siegel was interviewing two columnists and their predictions for 2014: Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor of The Nation, and Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor for The National Review. Vanden Heuvel was stubbornly starry eyed, envisioning for 2014 “… a politics that isn’t about left or right but is about right and wrong.” She predicted a year when government begins “to create jobs, to create opportunities for millions of people … for the common good.”
In contrast, Ramesh Ponnuru, after demurring that Vanden Heuvel’s predictions probably wouldn’t come true, announced, “I wouldn’t be surprised, but I think a lot of other people will be, if we start to see more of a campaign for the legal recognition of polygamous unions.” Wahoo! Who cares about ending poverty and job creation. This could make life in the 21st century so much more fun.
I’ve often felt I could use a couple more husbands. While our society generally associates polyamorous unions as polygamous, the male having two or more wives, polyandry is a time-honored practice in societies around the world. In the ancient Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, Draupadi marries the five Pandava brothers. Each one of them has something unique to offer, since each one was fathered by a different god. I like to imagine a husband who loves accounting, one who does construction, the lovely artist I’m already married to, and maybe there’s room for a professor type to help me with my research. Instead of keeping them in whatever the male version of a harem is, we would all hang out together. Of course, it’s possible that in the course of our marriage, some of my husbands might fall in love with each other, maybe even decide to change gender. Either way, it would no longer be considered polyandry, but a group marriage, a polyamorous relationship. Who knew that group marriage has been around for a long time? One of the longest lasting in the US was a group called the Oneida Community. Yes, they are the same people responsible for Oneida flatware.
What fun those marriages will have filing for benefits. And how will the wedding licenses be issued for multiple partners? Will one have to marry everyone at once, or does one get a license each time? Maybe divorce rates will go down as people decide to just keep the old wife or husband around (she’s a great cook, he’s so good with his hands) and just add on. This, by the way, is also a time-honored tradition called line marriage. I swear, I’ve been living under a Judeo-Christian rock for way too long.
And of course, if we are really free to express ourselves, who knows what kind of gender possibilities and relationships will unfold? Anthropologists already say that in reality, there are many more than two genders. Already in Australia, one can choose M, F or X for gender on their passports. In fact, people are saying that in the future, the Male/Female classification will not even exist. Once the taboos are removed, imagine the leaps in medical technology as people explore their options.
Samuel Delany is probably chuckling with delight right now. Back in 1976, he wrote a science fiction book called Triton. Its subtitle was An Ambiguous Heterotopia. According to the dictionary, a heterotopia means “other place” or “place of differences.” On Triton, society and technology have created the possibility of being who and whatever you want. In less than the time outpatient surgery takes, you could change your sex, your orientation, your physical appearance, even graft a rose growing out of your shoulder. Perhaps when Mother Earth shrugged, reality shifted and we are all now living in a magnificent “other place,” where anything is not just possible, but acceptable.
I for one look forward to the time that we can all celebrate our rainbow selves and appreciate the gifts that every choice brings. Vive la différence!
As we go to press, Lavinia’s prescience strikes again. The New York Times reports polygamy the new front for marriage equality.
“It’s the little things you do together,
That make perfect relationships.
The hobbies you pursue together,
Savings you accrue together,
Looks you misconstrue together,
That make marriage a joy.”
Steven Sondheim – Company
When not using her eyebrow pencil to perfect a pencil moustache, Lavinia helps others explore and develop new possibilities and options, coaching and rehabilitating via the Feldenkrais Method and the Creative Body. www.laviniaplonka.com