Federal Judge Strikes Down California’s Proposition 8: Ruling Recognizes Gay Marriage

Federal Judge Strikes Down Proposition 8: Ruling Recognizes Gay Marriage

A federal judge in San Francisco struck down California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage on Wednesday, stating that it discriminates against gay men and women.  The ruling hands supporters of such unions at least a temporary victory in a legal battle that seems all but certain to be settled by the Supreme Court.

Wednesday’s decision is just the latest chapter in what has been a long battle over the ban, Proposition 8, which was passed in 2008.  But on Wednesday, the ruling provided fresh new winds behind those who feel that marriage is not, as the voters of California and many other states have claimed, solely the province of a man and a woman.

Proposition 8 cannot withstand any level of scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause,” wrote Judge Vaughn R. Walker.  “Excluding same-sex couples from marriage is simply not rationally related to a legitimate state interest.”  The very existence of a federal court ruling recognizing same-sex marriage in California, the nation’s most populous state, set off cheers of “We won!” from the large crowds gathered in front of the courthouse in San Francisco.  Evening rallies and celebrations were planned in dozens of cities across the state and several across the nation.

Read more in The New York Times here.

Rachel Maddow: California’s Proposition 8 Struck Down

PBSNewsHour: Ban On Same Sex Marriage Overturned

Proposition 8 Overturned: San Francisco Rally

Bright Eyes: First Day of My Life

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Sean Penn Wins Best Actor for Milk: My Name is Sean Penn, and I’m Here to Recruit You

Penn Wins Best Actor for Milk: My Name is Sean Penn and I’m Here to Recruit You

You Commie, Homo-Loving Sons of Guns

Sean Penn won the Academy Award for Best Actor Sunday night for his moving portrayal of slain gay rights leader Harvey Milk in Milk. He earned a standing ovation from the starry crowd as his wife, Robin Wright Penn, tearfully looked on. “You commie, homo-loving sons of guns,” Penn began in accepting his award for Milk. “I did not expect this and I want it to be very clear that I do know how hard I make it to appreciate me often.” Penn had already won the Screen Actors Guild and Critics Choice awards, as well as numerous honors from film critics groups across the country. The 48-year-old actor had deeply immersed himself in order to act the role of Harvey Milk, culminating in a stellar performance that brought out a warmth and sweetness rarely seen throughout Penn’s acting career, often marked by intense, complex characters.

Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man elected to major public office in the United States when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. The following year, he was shot to death, along with San Francisco Mayor George Moscone, by board colleague Dan White. But during his life, he inspired gays and lesbians to stand up and come out, helping to turn San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood into the gay mecca and safe haven that it would become. He roused cheering crowds with impassioned speeches that often began with the words, “My name is Harvey Milk, and I am here to recruit you.”

In wrapping up his own acceptance speech at The Academy Awards ceremony, Penn mentioned the protesters who had lined the streets of Hollywood near the Oscar festivities, holding anti-gay signs: “For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support. We’ve got to have equal rights for everyone.” Backstage, when asked what he would tell those protesters if he could speak to them, Penn responded: “I’d tell them to turn in their hate card and find their better self.”

Sean Penn Wins Best Actor Academy Award for “Milk”

Dustin Lance Black Wins Academy Award for Best Screenplay for “Milk”

The Story of Harvey Milk Gave Me Hope to Live My Life

In addition to Sean Penn’s Oscar, Dustin Lance Black won The Academy Award for Best Screenplay for Milk. Black, who was wearing The White Knot for marriage equality, gave an eloquent acceptance speech about how Harvey Milk had personally inspired him:

When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas, to California, and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life; it gave me the hope that one day I could live my life openly as who I am and that maybe even I could fall in love and one day get married.

Most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he’d want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told they are less than by their churches, or by the government, or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value. And that no matter what everyone tells you, God does love you, and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally across this great nation of ours.” Dustin Black’s sometimes tearful acceptance speech was greeted by the Academy audience members with loud applause.

Dustin Lance Black Wins Oscar for Best Screenplay for “Milk”

Harvey Milk Takes Oath of Office after Winning 1977 San Francisco Election

Harvey Milk: You’ve Got to Give Them Hope

Academy Award Documentary: The Times Of Harvey Milk

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Day Without a Gay

Day Without a Gay

Harvey Milk: You’ve Got to Give Them Hope

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Harvey Milk: Without Hope, Life is Not Worth Living

Harvey Milk: Without Hope, Life is Not Worth Living

The Life and times of Harvey Milk

In the 1970s, psychiatry and psychology still classified homosexuality as a mental illness. In recent history, in an otherwise entirely routine case, the Supreme Court refused in 1978 to overturn the prison sentence of a man convicted solely of having consensual sex with another man. And only one year before, the court had let stand the firing of an outstanding Tacoma, Washington, teacher who had made the mistake of telling the truth when his principal asked him whether he was a homosexual. No real national gay organization existed, and Vice-President Walter Mondale haughtily left a speech in 1977 after someone asked him when President Carter’s Administration would speak in favor of gay equality.

To be young and to realize that you were gay or lesbian in the 1970s was to anticipate that your entire adulthood would be shackled with constant fears of personal discovery, with your life marked as a long and isolated, elusively secretive journey, with dim career prospects, and with some of your closest personal relationships fearfully concealed behind darkened bar windows.

No single person could change all of that, and not all of the changes have been accomplished even today. But a few powerful figures gave gay and lesbian individuals the confidence they needed to stop lying, and none understood how his public role could affect private lives better than Harvey Milk. People told Harvey Milk that no openly gay man could win political office. Fortunately, he ignored their advice. And after Harvey Milk became the first openly gay man elected to any substantial political office in the history of the world, thousands of astounded people wrote to Milk thanking him for finally giving them a chance to emerge from the shadows of mankind and to join the human race.

There was a time when it was impossible for people, either straight or gay, even to imagine a person like Harvey Milk. After he defied San Francisco’s ruling class to become an elected member of its Board of Supervisors in 1977, people had to begin adjusting to the new reality that he embodied, that a gay person could live an honest life and succeed. That laborious adjustment continues to trudge on, although with each gay and lesbian character who emerges on television, with every well-known person who takes the brave step out of the shadows to openly declare his/her gay or lesbian identity, and with every presidential speech to a gay group, an eventual outcome favoring equality seems more and more possible.

Harvey Milk knew that a root cause of the gay predicament was invisibility. He suspected that emotional trauma was the worst enemy to gay and lesbian persons, and particularly for those who were in the closet, and who probably still constitute a majority of the gay world. That was what made the election of an openly gay person, not just a sympathetic straight ally, symbolically so crucial. “You gotta give them hope,” Milk always said.

Not everyone cheered, of course, and death threats multiplied. Milk often spoke of his inevitable assassination, even recording a will naming acceptable successors to his seat and containing the famous line: “If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.” Two bullets finally did enter his brain. On November 27th, 1978, in San Francisco’s City Hall, where Mayor George Moscone was also killed.

Fellow Supervisor Daniel White, a troubled anti-gay conservative, had left the board, and had become mentally deranged when Mayor Moscone denied his request to return. White admitted the murders within hours, and at trial a jury gave him just five years in prison with parole. Defense lawyers had barred anyone remotely pro-gay from the jury and had brought a psychologist to testify that “junk food” had exacerbated White’s pre-existing depression.

While he was alive, Harvey Milk’s words had been able to averted gay riots before. But after the trial verdict was announced, the city of San Francisco erupted, with tens of thousands of people taking to the streets and more than 160 persons ending up in the hospital. Harvey Milk’s killing has been said to have awakened as many gay people as his actual election to office had. His death inspired many associates who later envisioned one of the greatest works of American folk art, the AIDS quilt. But while his assassination offered Milk empathy from mainstream America, something that was then rare for openly gay men, it would have been thrilling to see how far he could have gone as a leader. He had sworn off going to gay bathhouses when he entered public life, and he may have eluded the virus that killed so many of his contemporaries. He might have been able to help guide gay America through the confused beginnings of the AIDS horror.

Instead, Harvey Milk remains a historic figure who is frozen in time, a symbol of what gays can accomplish, but also of the treacherous and mortal dangers that they face in trying to do so.

Harvey Milk: You’ve Got to Give Them Hope

Milk: A Biographical Motion Picture

The new biographical motion picture, Milk, is directed by Gus Van Sant, who also directed My Own Private Idaho (with Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix) and Good Will Hunting (the breakout movie for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck). Sean Penn stars as Harvey Milk, with James Franco playing his life partner, Scott Smith, and the Josh Brolin as Dan White, Milk’s eventual killer. The Oscar-winning filmmaker’s character study of the life of Harvey Milk, America’s first openly gay politician, is being described as big, brash, bold, and already looking like it will be a major contender in the motion picture awards season. If this first trailer is anything to go by, Gus Van Sant’s Milk is going to be a big movie that takes on big issues in contemporary American life.

Milk: You’ve Got to Give Them Hope

A Historic Documentary: The Times of Harvey Milk

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Andrew Sullivan Marries in Massachusetts: California Becomes Next Big Battle

Provincetown at Dawn

Andrew Sullivan and Aaron Tone to Marry

Three Weeks Ago I Wrote This about Andrew Sullivan’s Upcoming Marriage. Feelings Change:

Another gay marriage blob from Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic on Friday, this time about his own:

“Off to the Chapel [tomorrow, August the 27th]. Well, a garden, actually, but the same idea. I’ll be back after Labor Day, and a brief honeymoon…. In the meantime, wish me luck. I’ll see you on the other side of matrimony…. ‘

And a few days ago, in The London Times, a somewhat jittery Andrew Sullivan wrote:

“So this is what it feels like? In a week’s time I’ll be walking down the aisle with my soon-to-be husband. Our families are both coming for the big day. We’re getting hitched in Massachusetts, where I’ve lived every summer for the past decade or so, and which is the only state in America where civil marriage is legal for everyone.

Every now and again I have to pinch myself. This is real? For me? It is hardly possible that it could be real for anyone. But me? After so long?

A brief personal history: in 1989, as a junior editor at The New Republic, I got involved in an editorial argument about proposed domestic or civil partnerships for gay couples. The idea had emerged in the 1980s in several cities, partly because of the trauma of couples torn asunder by hostile relatives in the Aids crisis.

Some social conservatives were understandably worried that by setting up an institution like “domestic partnership”, we were creating “marriage-lite”, an institution that would spread to heterosexual couples and weaken the responsibilities and prestige of marriage itself.

As a gay conservative I found both arguments compelling. I saw the pressing need to give gay couples legal protection, but I could also see the danger that an easy-come-easy-go pseudo-marriage could pose for society as a whole.

The solution, however, seemed blindingly obvious to me.

“Well, why not let gays get married as well?” I asked. “Isn’t that the true conservative position?”

My liberal bosses loved the idea of irritating conservatives with a conservative argument. So I obliged. The cover illustration was the first time that a leading magazine had put two guys on a wedding cake on the cover.

The piece created a mini-sensation. I enjoyed the buzz, but the more I thought about it the more convinced I became that this was not just a necessary change, but also a long overdue one. With straight marriage no longer legally linked to children, and with gays desperately needing integration into their own families and society, it seemed like a no-brainer to me.

It was a philosophical decision for me, not a personal one. I was in my twenties and had no intention myself of getting married. In fact, I was a pretty swinging bachelor. But it was the principle that mattered.

Almost two decades later, after years of intense political debate, after years of personal activism, court cases, congressional testimony, threatened constitutional amendments, civil disobedience and a global revolution in marriage rights, the political has now become personal for me. It’s a week away. And I officially have the jitters.

We decided on the most minimalist wedding possible – basically close family only. (We’ll have a bigger party for friends later.) We’re getting married in the same place – a beach house – where we are having the tiny reception. It’s a block down the beach from where we live.

We have the licence, the judge, the clothes, the menu, the photographer (although he hasn’t been in touch lately – gulp), and the rings. I’ve written out the civil liturgy. We’ve settled on the vows. I should relax now, right?

The other night it hit me for the first time that this is really about to happen. I guess I had just put it out of my head until it was only a matter of a week or so away. My fiance, Aaron, and I have lived together for three years. I have no qualms about our actual relationship. For me, this is for life.

However, standing up in front of my family and my spouse’s and saying the vows out loud has me in a state of butterflies. I can go on television and barely break a sweat, but I’m terrified of performing in front of my own family.

I’m scared that I’ll lose it. I bawled through the last same-sex wedding I went to. When I was diagnosed with HIV 14 years ago, I assumed that this day would never come. And now that it has, the emotional impact is a little hard to measure.

You fight for something, never expecting it to happen, let alone to you, and then it does and it can overwhelm. Taking yes for an answer can be harder than no.

Maybe it’s a function of having overthought this issue for so long; maybe it’s just handling a big family occasion of any sort (Christmas is bad enough). Maybe it’s a lifetime in which my actual relationships have always been private, or so targeted by political enemies that I’ve become very defensive.

Maybe I’m scared that two decades of passionate advocacy in theory is easier than a simple act in practice. But whatever the reason, going public with my husband – even in front of our supportive families – is suddenly much tougher than I expected. My throat is a little dry. My stomach is a little unsettled.

My sister e-mailed support: “Don’t worry, it is natural to stress, I practically had a baby the day before mine! 75 to the church, another 75 in the evening, the food, the flowers, the photos, all those people watching me!

“On the day it just felt like a dream, I felt like I was letting out a huge breath all day, like that waiting to exhale, I exhaled all day and it was wonderful.”

Our wedding is much smaller. My old friend and marriage advocate Evan Wolfson reassured me as well: “You’re supposed to be in a zombie state till the beauty of it breaks through.”

Are zombies nervous? They never seem to be. They just stagger forward. Oh, well. Here goes . . .

I, Andrew, take you, Aaron, to be no other than yourself. Loving what I know of you, trusting what I don’t yet know, with respect for your integrity, and faith in your abiding love for me, through all our years, and in all that life may bring us, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part, I accept you as my husband and pledge my love to you.

So revolutionary for some; so simple for me. For the first time in my adult life I will have a home.

And reported even earlier in the Washington Post:

Getting hitched: Conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan and his partner of three years, artist-actor Aaron Tone. The New York Observer set off a blogger guessing game yesterday when it reported that Sullivan is making it legal with an actor appearing in Studio Theatre’s production of “The Pillowman,” whom it erroneously ID’d as simply “Eric.”

No big mystery: Sullivan, 43, and Tone, 31, have been domestic partners in D.C. for two years, and will marry in Provincetown, Mass., this August. The couple originally planned to wed last year until a “book crisis” postponed the event. “There’s no way to pull off a book and a wedding at the same time,” Sullivan told us. No word what role their

beloved dogs Dusty and Eddy will play in the small ceremony, but they’re “definitely” in the wedding party.

And even more, from The N.Y. Observer:

Andrew, did you see David?” said authoress and blogger den mother Arianna Huffington to writer Andrew Sullivan as Hollywood mogul David Geffen approached. The group had coalesced outside the Hilton banquet hall as they attempted an early exit from the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.

Yes! We just had sex!” Mr. Sullivan said. “Safe sex!”

That’s right,” the bald billionaire replied with a laugh. “Standing up, because we can.” Then Mr. Geffen turned more serious. “Now what’s this I hear? You’re getting married?” he inquired.

Yes,” said Mr. Sullivan, the wedding would be in late August. “He’s got hair on his back and everything.” Mr. Geffen nodded sagely. “All the things you like in a man,” he said. “Congratulations.”

Later that night, at the Vanity Fair party held at Christopher Hitchens’ house, The Transom pried loose a few wedding details from Mr. Sullivan’s fiancé, Aaron, an actor (last name withheld at Mr. Sullivan’s request): It’s going to be a small affair, mostly family, to take place in Provincetown, Mass.

We haven’t done much yet to prepare,” said Aaron, who is currently starring in the Studio Theatre production of The Pillowman. “We’ve rented the house where we’re going to have it—that’s about it. It’s on the beach.”

Mr. Sullivan was standing nearby, wearing a tux and his trademark Dr. Martens. Would he be allowed to wear those hogs to the wedding? “Absolutely not,” Aaron said.

No, but we don’t need to talk it over,” Aaron said. “He won’t be wearing those.”

Now, all of this Sullivan-Tone matrimonial bliss must be REALLY, REALLY big news, since Matthew Yglesias at The Atlantic just pointed out that Andrew Sullivan has been named as one of the 50 most influential people in Washington, D. C. by GQ Magazine:

“You very recently may have read on the internet that Andrew Sullivan is the 46th most powerful person in Washington, but as best I can tell you need to get your hands on a copy of the print GQ to find the real news of the list — Ross and I are “up and coming” powerful just like the mayor and Susan Rice.

You might be tempted to look at this list and nitpick. Does it really make sense to say that John Podesta is more powerful than Ben Bernanke? Suppose Podesta wanted to cause a global financial meltdown, or plunge the country into recession . . . what he could do about it? Nothing. But then you realize, no, this list must be one hundred percent accurate since it correctly identifies me as one of the centrally important figures of our time.

David Bradley, owner and Supreme Leader of the Atlantic Media Company is also on the list, but since he doesn’t have a blog it’s difficult for him to brag about it in a somewhat ironic and self-effacing manner. Point being: the Atlantic Media Company and its associated blogs are very, very, very powerful or, in some cases, up and coming as powerful. Be afraid.”

Okay, Andrew Sullivan and other Atlantic Magazine bloggers have become big movers-and-shakers in D.C. I just hope that after tomorrow, we don’t have to continue hearing so much of Sullivan’s “marriage blather.”

Writer Andrew Sullivan and Actor Aaron Tone Get Married in Provincetown, Mass.

Writer Andrew Sullivan and Actor Aaron Tone

Andrew Sullivan, the prominent author and conservative gay blogger for The Atlantic Magazine got married Aug. 27 in Provincetown, Mass., to health-club worker and acting student Aaron Tone. “I now understand the meaning of the phrase, ‘the happiest day of your life,'” Sullivan, stated after the ceremony.

Sullivan’s parents came from the United Kingdom for the wedding, along with his brother, sister, brother-in-law, niece and a nephew. Tone’s family, from Plymouth, Michigan, also attended the nuptials.

Aaron Tone, 31, works at Mint Fitness in Washington, D.C., while also studying at the Studio Theatre Acting Conservatory. He appeared in “The Pillowman” at the Studio Theatre last spring.

After receiving copies of the wedding photos, Sullivan wrote on his blog: “Seeing them again reminds me of the dreamy dusk and night that we chose — a full moon over the water, and family and friends-who-are-family sending the love right back at us. This was not — repeat not — a political event,” he said. “But it took politics to get past politics, and to see this movement we are a part of as a human endeavor to bring love and civility and family into lives that have sometimes been denied all of the above.”

We were denied no love that night, and received so much support and kindness and affirmation that we’re still a little giddy. It was more than I ever expected, in a place I love, with people who love both Aaron and me.”

These Were Sullivan’s Wedding Vows

I, Andrew, take you, Aaron,
to be no other than yourself.
Loving what I know of you,
trusting what I don’t yet know,
with respect for your integrity,
and faith in your abiding love for me,
through all our years,
and in all that life may bring us,
for better or worse,
for richer or poorer,
in sickness and in health,
till death do us part,
I accept you as my husband
and pledge my love to you.

Beyond Marriage in Massachusetts

Massachusetts is the only state that has granted access to full marriage to same-sex couples, legalizing it in 2004. Couples from most other states cannot get married there because of a 1913 state law that prohibits people from marrying in Massachusetts “if [the] marriage would be void if contracted in” their home state. However, gay couples from Rhode Island and New Mexico are among those who can marry in Massachusetts, since those states have no laws specifically banning same-sex marriage, even if they don’t offer it themselves.

On Sept. 7, the California Legislature approved, for the second time in three years, a bill legalizing same-sex marriage. The vote in the Senate was 22-15 and the vote in the Assembly, in June, was 42-34. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed an identical bill in 2005, saying the matter should be decided by the voters or the courts, not by legislators. Schwarzenegger is expected to veto this year’s bill, too. He has until Oct. 14 to make up his mind, and if he neither signs nor vetoes the bill, it will automatically become law.

In the meantime, the California State Supreme Court is expected to issue a same-sex-marriage ruling in the next few months, in a case that has consolidated several lawsuits. Gay activists who are working most directly on the court challenge see the court’s signals in the case so far as encouraging.

California already has a domestic-partnership law that grants registered same-sex couples all state-level rights and obligations of marriage. However, gay activists say “separate is never equal” and that domestic partnerships and civil unions carry “the stigma of second-class status,” as Human Rights Watch stated in a recent letter to Schwarzenegger.

In addition to Massachusetts, full same-sex marriage has been legalized in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa and Spain. Non-Canadian same-sex couples can get married in 12 of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories in a one-day visit. The process takes longer in Quebec, although there are legal ways to circumvent the province’s waiting period.

Further, a growing number of nations now grant registered same-sex couples some, most or all rights and obligations of marriage under registered-partnership, domestic-partnership or civil-union laws. Those countries include Andorra, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Greenland, a self-governing administrative division of Denmark, also has a civil-union law. In still other nations, such as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Mexico and the U.S., such rights are granted by city, state or provincial laws. Informal cohabitation of same-sex partners has become legally recognized in Austria, Colombia, Croatia, Hungary, Israel and Portugal, as well as in parts of Australia, Italy and the U.S.

The U.S. states with same-sex civil-union or domestic-partnership laws that extend all or nearly all state-level rights and obligations of marriage include California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire (starting Jan. 1), Oregon (starting Jan. 1, unless opponents succeed in delaying it) and Vermont. Three other U.S. states (Maine, Hawaii and Washington) and the District of Columbia have laws that extend limited spousal rights to same-sex couples.

When you take current national census data and look at where same-sex couples live in the U.S., you find that more than 21 percent of same-sex couples live in states where almost all the state-level rights of marriage are available to them. It’s one in five,” said Jon Davidson, legal director of Lambda Legal. Davidson said that the percentage rises to 35 percent when one adds in the states with civil-union laws that are about to take effect, and states that recognize same-sex marriages entered into elsewhere.

The thing that is most amazing,” Davidson said, “is that seven years ago, none of this existed. The rate of progress that we have made is unprecedented, in the same period that there have been these unprecedented attempts to stop it — the statutes, the constitutional amendments, the lawsuits. The other side is fighting harder, and it seems like we’re losing, but, if you look at this, we’re winning at an incredible pace.”

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Photo of the Day: Eyebrow. Two Dudes Did WHAT Today? Andrew Sullivan Got Married?

Andrew Sullivan: Here Comes the Bride, er’ the Groom. Whatever.


Soon-to-be Husband Actor Aaron Tone: Acting Asleep


Andrew Sullivan and Aaron Tone

Another gay marriage blob from Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic on Friday, this time about his own:

“Off to the Chapel [tomorrow, August the 27th]. Well, a garden, actually, but the same idea. I’ll be back after Labor Day, and a brief honeymoon…. In the meantime, wish me luck. I’ll see you on the other side of matrimony…. ‘

And a few days ago, in The London Times, a somewhat jittery Andrew Sullivan wrote:

“So this is what it feels like? In a week’s time I’ll be walking down the aisle with my soon-to-be husband. Our families are both coming for the big day. We’re getting hitched in Massachusetts, where I’ve lived every summer for the past decade or so, and which is the only state in America where civil marriage is legal for everyone.

Every now and again I have to pinch myself. This is real? For me? It is hardly possible that it could be real for anyone. But me? After so long?

A brief personal history: in 1989, as a jejune junior editor at The New Republic, I got involved in an editorial argument about proposed domestic or civil partnerships for gay couples. The idea had emerged in the 1980s in several cities, partly because of the trauma of couples torn asunder by hostile relatives in the Aids crisis.

Some social conservatives were understandably worried that by setting up an institution like “domestic partnership”, we were creating “marriage-lite”, an institution that would spread to heterosexual couples and weaken the responsibilities and prestige of marriage itself.

As a gay conservative I found both arguments compelling. I saw the pressing need to give gay couples legal protection, but I could also see the danger that an easy-come-easy-go pseudo-marriage could pose for society as a whole.

The solution, however, seemed blindingly obvious to me.

“Well, why not let gays get married as well?” I asked. “Isn’t that the true conservative position?”

My liberal bosses loved the idea of irritating conservatives with a conservative argument. So I obliged. The cover illustration was the first time that a leading magazine had put two guys on a wedding cake on the cover.

The piece created a mini-sensation. I enjoyed the buzz, but the more I thought about it the more convinced I became that this was not just a necessary change, but also a long overdue one. With straight marriage no longer legally linked to children, and with gays desperately needing integration into their own families and society, it seemed like a no-brainer to me.

It was a philosophical decision for me, not a personal one. I was in my twenties and had no intention myself of getting married. In fact, I was a pretty swinging bachelor. But it was the principle that mattered.

Almost two decades later, after years of intense political debate, after years of personal activism, court cases, congressional testimony, threatened constitutional amendments, civil disobedience and a global revolution in marriage rights, the political has now become personal for me. It’s a week away. And I officially have the jitters.

We decided on the most minimalist wedding possible – basically close family only. (We’ll have a bigger party for friends later.) We’re getting married in the same place – a beach house – where we are having the tiny reception. It’s a block down the beach from where we live.

We have the licence, the judge, the clothes, the menu, the photographer (although he hasn’t been in touch lately – gulp), and the rings. I’ve written out the civil liturgy. We’ve settled on the vows. I should relax now, right?

The other night it hit me for the first time that this is really about to happen. I guess I had just put it out of my head until it was only a matter of a week or so away. My fiance, Aaron, and I have lived together for three years. I have no qualms about our actual relationship. For me, this is for life.

However, standing up in front of my family and my spouse’s and saying the vows out loud has me in a state of butterflies. I can go on television and barely break a sweat, but I’m terrified of performing in front of my own family.

I’m scared that I’ll lose it. I bawled through the last same-sex wedding I went to. When I was diagnosed with HIV 14 years ago, I assumed that this day would never come. And now that it has, the emotional impact is a little hard to measure.

You fight for something, never expecting it to happen, let alone to you, and then it does and it can overwhelm. Taking yes for an answer can be harder than no.

Maybe it’s a function of having overthought this issue for so long; maybe it’s just handling a big family occasion of any sort (Christmas is bad enough). Maybe it’s a lifetime in which my actual relationships have always been private, or so targeted by political enemies that I’ve become very defensive.

Maybe I’m scared that two decades of passionate advocacy in theory is easier than a simple act in practice. But whatever the reason, going public with my husband – even in front of our supportive families – is suddenly much tougher than I expected. My throat is a little dry. My stomach is a little unsettled.

My sister e-mailed support: “Don’t worry, it is natural to stress, I practically had a baby the day before mine! 75 to the church, another 75 in the evening, the food, the flowers, the photos, all those people watching me!

“On the day it just felt like a dream, I felt like I was letting out a huge breath all day, like that waiting to exhale, I exhaled all day and it was wonderful.”

Our wedding is much smaller. My old friend and marriage advocate Evan Wolfson reassured me as well: “You’re supposed to be in a zombie state till the beauty of it breaks through.”

Are zombies nervous? They never seem to be. They just stagger forward. Oh, well. Here goes . . .

I, Andrew, take you, Aaron, to be no other than yourself. Loving what I know of you, trusting what I don’t yet know, with respect for your integrity, and faith in your abiding love for me, through all our years, and in all that life may bring us, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part, I accept you as my husband and pledge my love to you.

So revolutionary for some; so simple for me. For the first time in my adult life I will have a home.

And reported even earlier in the Washington Post:

Getting hitched: Conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan and his partner of three years, artist-actor Aaron Tone. The New York Observer set off a blogger guessing game yesterday when it reported that Sullivan is making it legal with an actor appearing in Studio Theatre’s production of “The Pillowman,” whom it erroneously ID’d as simply “Eric.”

No big mystery: Sullivan, 43, and Tone, 31, have been domestic partners in D.C. for two years, and will marry in Provincetown, Mass., this August. The couple originally planned to wed last year until a “book crisis” postponed the event. “There’s no way to pull off a book and a wedding at the same time,” Sullivan told us. No word what role their beloved dogs Dusty and Eddy will play in the small ceremony, but they’re “definitely” in the wedding party.

And even more, from The N.Y. Observer:

Andrew, did you see David?” said authoress and blogger den mother Arianna Huffington to writer Andrew Sullivan as Hollywood mogul David Geffen approached. The group had coalesced outside the Hilton banquet hall as they attempted an early exit from the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.

Yes! We just had sex!” Mr. Sullivan said. “Safe sex!”

That’s right,” the bald billionaire replied with a laugh. “Standing up, because we can.” Then Mr. Geffen turned more serious. “Now what’s this I hear? You’re getting married?” he inquired.

Yes,” said Mr. Sullivan, the wedding would be in late August. “He’s got hair on his back and everything.” Mr. Geffen nodded sagely. “All the things you like in a man,” he said. “Congratulations.”

Later that night, at the Vanity Fair party held at Christopher Hitchens’ house, The Transom pried loose a few wedding details from Mr. Sullivan’s fiancé, Aaron, an actor (last name withheld at Mr. Sullivan’s request): It’s going to be a small affair, mostly family, to take place in Provincetown, Mass.

We haven’t done much yet to prepare,” said Aaron, who is currently starring in the Studio Theatre production of The Pillowman. “We’ve rented the house where we’re going to have it—that’s about it. It’s on the beach.”

Mr. Sullivan was standing nearby, wearing a tux and his trademark Dr. Martens. Would he be allowed to wear those hogs to the wedding? “Absolutely not,” Aaron said.

No, but we don’t need to talk it over,” Aaron said. “He won’t be wearing those.”

Now, all of this Sullivan-Tone matrimonial bliss must be REALLY, REALLY big news, since Matthew Yglesias at The Atlantic just pointed out that Andrew Sullivan has been named as one of the 50 most influential people in Washington, D. C. by GQ Magazine:

“You may have read on the internet that Andrew Sullivan is the 46th most powerful person in Washington, but as best I can tell you need to get your hands on a copy of the print GQ to find the real news of the list — Ross and I are “up and coming” powerful just like the mayor and Susan Rice.

You might be tempted to look at this list and nitpick. Does it really make sense to say that John Podesta is more powerful than Ben Bernanke? Suppose Podesta wanted to cause a global financial meltdown, or plunge the country into recession . . . what he could do about it? Nothing. But then you realize, no, this list must be one hundred percent accurate since it correctly identifies me as one of the centrally important figures of our time.

David Bradley, owner and Supreme Leader of the Atlantic Media Company is also on the list, but since he doesn’t have a blog it’s difficult for him to brag about it in a somewhat ironic and self-effacing manner. Point being: the Atlantic Media Company and its associated blogs are very, very, very powerful or, in some cases, up and coming as powerful. Be afraid.”

Okay, Andrew Sullivan and other Atlantic Magazine bloggers have become big movers-and-shakers in D.C. I just hope that after tomorrow, we don’t have to continue hearing so much of Sullivan’s “marriage blather.”

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