Where Was Luca Brasi Yesterday? (We Couldn't Even find His Vest)
TOM HAGEN: Senator Cauly apologized for not coming personally -- he said you'd understand.
-- The Consiglieri reporting (to the protagonist of Rudy Giuliani's favorite film) a dear friend's expedient absence from a wedding.
Congratulations are in order to Jon Cooper, the Majority Leader of the Legislature of Suffolk County, New York, upon his marriage in Connecticut to his longtime companion, Robert Cooper. Under normal circumstances, this would be the most interesting political story in the Style Section of this week’s Sunday New York Times, and certainly, it is the most interesting one which has come out of the closet. But this week’s Style Section also takes note of a another Connecticut same-sex wedding of two New Yorkers, the coverage of which fails to acknowledge the elephant in the room.
Or rather, the elephant who was not in the room.As Gail Collins recently noted, and which I pointed out nearly two years ago, Eliot Spitzer and Rudy Giuliani have a lot in common. To sum up, both came on like the Sheriff who came to clean up Dodge. Both saw themselves as pure and righteous; and both see their peers as, at best, craven and cowardly lesser men living by expedience, or, at worst, as the embodiments of evil incarnate. Both men and their entourages saw themselves as the good guys who stood for justice. Both believed laws are there to keep those who are not good guys in line; and that laws exist to prevent the bad guys from doing bad, and not to hamper the good guys from doing good.
However, neither my article nor Gail’s pointed out one other similarity: both men were forced to move out of their Executive Mansions because of their mating habits.When, in the midst of his contentious divorce from Donna Hanover, Rudy had to leave Gracie Mansion, he crashed for six months at the home of his longtime companions, Howard Koeppel and Mark Hsiao, whose wedding yesterday is the other same-sex marriage of political significance noted in today’s Style Section. Though the article includes some touching details about the couple’s courtship, it fails to mention the couple’s “menage a trois” (literally translated as “a social group of three living together”) with the former Mayor. The article also fails to note whether the former Mayor attended the wedding [He did not].
The former Mayor, now rumored to be running for Governor, recently regaled us with his views on the politics of same-sex marriage: "This will create a grass-roots movement. This is the kind of issue that, in many ways, is somewhat beyond politics… I think gay marriage will obviously be an issue for any Republican next year” By coincidence, these comments coincided with the Mayor's apparently last minute decision not to attend the nuptials, where he and his wife were to comprise two of about a dozen invited guests.
The Mayor recently noted his commitment to the traditional definition of marriage. He believes a marriage should be between a man and a cousin. He so embraces the doctrine of the holy trinity that he applies it to all aspects of his wife. When it comes to women, Rudy definitely has catholic (ironically, defined in the dictionary as “Of broad or liberal scope; comprehensive”) tastes. He’s so pro-marriage, he’s going to keep doing it til he finally gets it right.
As Koeppel puts it, "He isn't an advocate for gay marriage because of his religious beliefs. He is a traditional Catholic. Those teachings say marriage should be between a man and a woman."
I guess one can forgive Koeppel’s ignorance of what the Canon Law of the Holy Mother Church would say about the Mayor’s lifestyle decisions, which, I should point out, are ones dictated solely by personal choice, rather than innate sexual orientation, and thus, are far more indicative of the Mayor’s personal set of “values,” then would be a decision to pursue male sexual partners. By contrast, Mr. Koeppel’s decision to seek legal recognition of his 18 year relationship proves that, unlike Mr. Giuliani, Mr. Koeppel is a traditionalist who walks the walk as well as talking the talk.
Yet, Koeppel claims Giuliani told him that if gay marriage ever became legal in New York, "he would marry us himself."
One of the thorniest obstacles same sex marriage faces is the question of religious accommodation. Despite the claims of some conservatives, the First Amendment’s free exercise clause is quite sufficient to ensure that no one can force a member of the clergy to perform a wedding not sanctioned by his or her denomination.
But, how about a Town Clerk who wants the right to be able to turn down performing weddings she or he might find religiously objectionable? If such a Clerk happened to be the official with monopoly status to perform non-religious weddings in a jurisdiction, an exemption of that nature could result in a serious impediment for same sex couples exercising their rights.
And, how about a Justice of the Peace, who is little different than a glorified notary?Nearly every state legislative chamber which has dealt favorably with same-sex marriage has also passed some sort of religious accommodation provision, some mere window dressing, others (like Vermont’s) quite serious, which creates an exemption protecting church-related institutions from being sued for discrimination for refusing to accommodate same sex marriages.
Though I’ve yet to hear of a same-sex marriage bill which passed a state legislative chamber that would extend such exemptions to private contractors like florists, bakers, and bands (world renowned Klezmer musician Andy Statman currently gets special rabbinical dispensation to play at events where men dance with women, which admittedly may not effect his ability to play at same-sex weddings), or to quasi-public officials like Justices of the Peace, it is far from unlikely that legislation of that nature will become law in some state in the not too distant future.
Of course, such a law would not impact, one way or another, officials like the Mayor of the City of New York, who have the right to marry folks, but are free to pick and choose whether and with whom they exercise such a right. No one can force the Mayor of New York to perform their wedding, and if they could, it would probably in the public interest for the Mayor to forfeit that right.
So, how could a Mayor, who, as Mr. Koeppel puts it "isn't an advocate for gay marriage because of his religious beliefs,” a Mayor who “is a traditional Catholic“ whose Church’s “teachings say marriage should be between a man and a woman," agree to perform a Civil wedding he’s under no legal obligation to perform, which he finds so religiously objectionable that he would deny the right to such a wedding to every same sex couple in the State?
As Rudy so eloquently puts it, “I would not officiate at an illegal marriage because, because...Well, I certainly hope it doesn't become legal."
Now I understand why.
What I cannot understand is how, with such dear friends so personally impacted, and with sincere passions running so high amongst his friends on both sides of the issue, Mr. Giuliani could make such contradictory pronoucements with so little thought. When asked about how he'd feel if Roe v. Wade were overturned, or left in place, Mr. Giuliani once said he was fine with either result; now, here comes another social issue upon which Mr. Giuliani prefers not to expend any of his supposedly formidable brain matter.
I guess he expects the rest of the world to regard the institution of marriage with the same level of seriousness which he does.
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