Now, That’s San Francisco

By By [email protected]

By [email protected]

Mark Morford (freshman, undecided major)

Now, That’s San Francisco

Nothing like a few thousand revolutionary gay marriage ceremonies toreignite your urban pride

Friendly sex shops. Peet’s. Dog parks. Stellar restaurants.Superlative tattoo artists. Fabulous weather. Unparalleled natural beauty.Organic foods. Fewer SUVs, more Priuses. Mission burritos. An overwhelminganti-Schwarzenegger sentiment. Sushi. Bush never visits. There are things that make you happy to live in San Francisco, trulygrateful, along with plenty of things that make you hyper-aware that youlive in the country’s most progressive open-minded convoluted messed-upliberal bubble, for both good and ill. But few are the things that transcend mere gratitude, things thatour struggling budget-strapped modern metropolis has offered of late thatmakes you say, oh my God, I am right now so incredibly proud to say I livehere, I mean just look what we’re doing, look what ground we are breaking,what stagnant trends we are blasting, what history we are making. But for the moment, that’s all changed. There is one astoundingbeacon of political and social (and romantic) action about which SanFranciscans can be truly emboldened: The move to legalize same-sex marriage,to hold genuine same-sex wedding ceremonies, this should make anyprogressive soul proud to live in this amazing city. Deeply, genuinely,thoroughly. Here’s why: No matter what the final outcome, this past week will godown as one of those defining moments, a seminal point in American history.It hearkens back to the civil rights movement and to women’s suffrage,though with less screaming chanting effigy-burning marches and beatings byangry cops, and more roses and warm-hearted grins and life-affirmingsmooches on the steps of city hall. It was a delicious and heartwarming historic spectacle indeed, andthere was simply no way for any person of any elevated consciousness orspiritual awareness — anyone with any heart whatsoever — to witness thehuge line of happy, eager same-sex couples snaking around city hall and notbe deeply moved, profoundly touched. I was there. I saw the lines, the smiles, felt the intense emotionalenergy. It was simply irrefutable: These are people in love. These arecouples who have been together for years, decades, who have started familiesand raised children and set up homes replete with dogs and dinner partiesand antiques and regular shopping excursions to Safeway and the mall. Youknow, just like “real” Americans. These are couples who are willing to go the distance, to commit andconnect, and who are eager to prove to themselves and the world that theirlove is something true and real and momentous, something that, in truth, canonly serve to reignite and reunite our stagnant, fractured, contentious, 50percent-divorce-rate nation. Hey, we need all the help we can get. And one other thing was very apparent: It was a situation in whichyou simply could not imagine anyone hurling gobs of intolerant hate at it.It would have required a serious amount of nasty, inbred ignorance andappalling nerve to march up to any of the passionate and committed coupleswaiting patiently in line for their marriage ceremony and say, you know, Godhates you for this, you immoral disgusting sodomites, and it’s intolerableand unacceptable that you wish to love and honor each other till death doyou part. Which, yes indeed, is exactly what a great many antigay groups aredoing, in effect, right now

But here’s the best part: The City’s brave move was not merely agiant well-manicured middle finger to the Christian Right and indignanthomophobic conservatives everywhere. Nor was it just an audacious act of civil disobedience, guaranteedto raise the ire of Bible thumpers and so-called pro-family groups hailingeverywhere from Orange County to Colorado Springs. That’s just a nice bonus.

It was, more than anything, an incredible celebration of love. Themore than 2,600 wedding ceremonies performed so far were the purestevidence, an irrefutable outpouring of the most wondrous and messy andbaffling and orgasmic and desperately needed of human emotions, the airelectric and warm, the ceremonies themselves radiant and poignant andgenuinely tearful. And no question became so clear, so obvious, as the one being askedby same-sex-marriage advocates around the world: What, really, is so wrongabout this? What is the horrible threat about two adults who love each otherso intensely, so purely, that they’re willing to commit to a lifetime ofbeing together and sleeping together and arguing over who controls theremote? And what government body dares to claim a right to legislate againstit? It is a question no group, no homophobic senator, no piece ofantigay legislation, no BushCo stump speech, no Bible-humping pastor hasbeen able to answer with any clarity or conviction. They can only mumble about immorality and quote some vague Scriptureabout sodomy that makes them all tingly, as wary biblical scholars all overthe world roll their eyes and point to a thousand proofs that demonstrate,over and over again, how the Bible is basically a reinterpreted regurgitatedpiece of classic patriarchal misogynistic mythmaking that says exactly whatthe church rewrote it to say. But I might have part of an answer. From what I can glean from someof my hate mail and the general conservative outcry, here is what thehomophobes fear about same-sex marriage: bestiality. That is, they are utterly terrified that same-sex marriage is aslippery slope of permissive debauchery that will lead to the utterbreakdown of social rules and sexual mores, to people being allowed to marrytheir dogs, or their own dead grandmothers, or chairs, or three hairy menfrom Miami Beach. In short, to the neocon Right, a nation that allows gays to marry isa nation with no boundaries and no condoms and where all sorts of illicitdisgusting behaviors will soon be legal and be forced upon them, a horrifictribal wasteland full of leeches and flying bugs and scary sex acts theyonly read about in chat rooms and their beloved “Left Behind” series of cuteapocalypse-porn books. You know, just like how giving blacks the right to own their ownland meant we had to give the same rights to house plants and power tools,or how granting women the right to vote meant it was a slippery slope untilwe gave suffrage to feral cats and sea slugs and rusty hubcaps. This, then, is why it is a time to be incredibly proud. SanFrancisco is slapping this moronic worldview back to the dank basement ofsubhuman intellect, where it belongs. We have broken the taboo, challengedthe ignorant and the easily terrified, made it beautifully clear that whatmatters most in a modern society is not unfounded, naive fears, not uptightreligious puling, but a humane and equal, joyous sense of love for all. The war is far from over. It will be a brutal battle, with much hateyet to be spewed, much Bible waving and law mangling accompanying what willundoubtedly be a slow, painful sea change for a very uptight, easilyterrified American society. But S.F. has taken the lead, has sounded thebattle cry, has defined itself anew. And for that, more than any other ofits wonders, I am incredibly proud that I live in San Francisco, the bestcity in the whole goddamn world — gay, straight or anywhere in between.