A little while ago, I posted an incredibly powerful speech from TED.com. In it, straight senator Dianne J. Savina from New York State was arguing for gay marriage. The bill allowing gay marriage was not passed, and as a result, every time someone told me America is the land of the free where you can become who you want to be, I gave a bitter little laugh.
And then I happened to glance at the Guardian online this weekend (I'm sure you can guess what my favourite online paper of the moment is) and I see that they have now passed the bill allowing gay marriage. To quote Jen Thorpe (feminist commentator and, if I'm not mistaken, ex-Rhodes student), "HOORAY!!!!"
Many couples lined up in matching suits or dresses to get married and there is a slideshow of eight photographs that made me get all warm and fuzzy inside. I was going to say that photograph number three is my favourite. It is a picture of Phyllis Siegel and Connie Kopelov, 76 and 84 years old respectively. They have just been pronounced wife and wife, and Phyllis is kissing an overwhelmed Connie's cheek adoringly whilst the friends and family smilingly applaud in the background. They have been together for twenty-three years.
But then I saw the next one, Myron Levine and Philip Zinderman (who is holding a little bouquet of flowers) striding out of the relatively ancient looking "New York State Building" together, holding their joined hands aloft and laughing. There is a friend on either side of the door, a man and a woman, preparing to shower them with rose petals. They may have been together for fifty-three years, but the expressions on their faces are as excited as any young newly-weds.
Douglas Robinson and Michael Elsasser have each other in a close-knit embrace, each head buried in the other's shoulder so that you cannot see their faces. When you look at their evident happiness, you don't need to. One women is leaping down the steps with her partner (perhaps she is dancing?) and her is flying out around her in excitement. There are two men in Business-type suits sitting in adjoining chairs. They are holding hands and the one is kissing the other's cheek, so coyly and lovingly that it makes me wonder whether a "blushing bride" is a term that is necessarily exclusively female.
These New York marriages, so long fought-for, arch over these couples like blessings, softening every line on their faces with love.