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Gay marriage has been hailed as the next big fight in civil rights.But is it really that important?
“Will & Grace” sitcom co-creator Max Mutchnick, New York City mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn, and New York Times columnist Frank Bruni gathered last night at the Time Warner centre to discuss the issue.
The talk, “A Conversation on Same-Sex Marriage,” focused on whether gay marriage actually is an important fight for the gay and lesbian community.
After all, “heterosexuals have already failed at it,” quipped law professor Thane Rosenbaum, who moderated the panel, which was held at the Time Warner centre.
The debate comes at a crucial time as the U.S. Supreme Court gears up to hear two gay marriage cases later this year.
The issue gathered more momentum as three states legalized gay marriage in November, and President Barack Obama publicly advocated for gay rights in a historic inauguration speech.
The panel cited recent columns by Bruni in which he says that with the legalization of gay marriage in Maine and Maryland “there really is no turning back.” (The election results in Washington state had not come in when Bruni wrote his column. Gay marriage was eventually legalized there, too.)
“Most Americans are coming to realise that to claim acceptance of gays and lesbians as equals and then deny them state-recognised marriage is a contradictory, untenable position,” Bruni states in his Nov. 7 column. “What makes us different is that we form our romantic partnerships with people of the same gender. If those partnerships are deemed less worthy and honorable than heterosexual ones, then we’re being deemed less worthy and honorable than heterosexuals.”
Bruni again pushed that point Monday night, saying gay marriage is important because it “goes directly to what makes gay and lesbian people different.”
For Quinn, the fight for gay marriage is important on a more emotional basis.
“A marriage is, God willing, a happy event,” she said, adding that to be excluded from that is to be excluded from a very important part of society.
But, even among the gay community, the issue of gay marriage has caused debate.
Karl Lagerfeld, one of the biggest names and most flamboyant names in the fashion industry, has soundly bashed the notion of gay marriage.
“I’m against it [gay marriage] for a very simple reason: In the 60s they all said we had the right to the difference. And now, suddenly, they want a bourgeois life,” Lagerfeld told Vice about two years ago.
But, for Mutchnick, as well as Quinn, it comes back to the emotional symbolism of the issue.
“You need that gay nerd in high school to feel like he can be a quarterback,” he said of why gay marriage is so important.
The panel was hosted by the Forum on Law Culture & Society at Fordham Law.
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