The Ones Who Really Forced The Spring

A timely reminder of how old the struggle for marriage equality really is in the US:

And this is how revolutions begin:

But, of course, as I noted in my 1998 anthology on the subject, the issue of gay marriage goes back much, much further in time. We even have martyrs executed for the cause. From Montaigne’s notebook as long ago as 1581:

On my return from Saint Peter’s I met a man who informed me humorously of two things: that the Portuguese made their obeisance in Passion week; and then, that on this same day the station was at San Giovanna Porta Latina, in which church a few years before certain Portuguese had entered into a strange brotherhood.

They married one another, male to male, at Mass, with the same ceremonies with which we perform our marriages, read the same marriage Gospel service, and then went to bed and lived together. The Roman wits said that because in the other conjunction, of male and female, this circumstance of marriage alone makes it legitimate, it had seemed to these sharp folk that this other action would become equally legitimate if they authorized it with ceremonies and mysteries of the Church.

Eight or nine Portuguese of this fine sect were burned.

Update from a reader:

The videos you posted remind me that I saw first-hand how the revolution was truly underway well before 2008.  When I was in graduate school, my close friend and research partner invited my wife and me to her wedding at a little farm up in the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts.  This would have been some time around 1996 or 1997.  It was a beautiful service, conducted by a former Catholic priest using a traditional marriage liturgy that was quite familiar to me as an Episcopalian and to my formerly Catholic wife. The only thing that was unusual was that my friend and her partner were lesbians. Both families were there, along with a few close friends.  It was a small, joyous affair and we celebrated them, their love, and their commitment to each other.  In that way it was just like any other wedding I’ve ever attended, including my own.  Virtually normal indeed.

So to whom does credit for the “revolution” belong? Not to the lawyers and political activists that Becker lionizes. Not to you, despite your early advocacy. It belongs to women (and men) like these, the courageous clergy who blessed their unions, and their families who loved and supported them and continue to do so.  That would be a much more human story to tell.