“There are many homosexuals, who neither desire nor are suited for homophile marriage, that ridicule what they call the “heterosexual” institution of marriage. This is only a clever twisting. Marriage is no more a strictly heterosexual social custom than are the social customs of birthday celebrations, funerals, house-warmings, or, for that matter, sleeping, eating, and the like. I participate in those, not because they are heterosexual or homosexual things, but because I am a human being. Being homosexual does not put one out of the human race. I am a human being, male and married to another male; not because I am aping heterosexuals, but because I have discovered that that is by far the most enjoyable way of life to me. And I think that’s also the reason heterosexual men and woman marry, though some people twist things around to make it appear they are merely following convention.
After all, there must be something to marriage, else what is the reason for its great popularity? Marriage is not anybody’s “convention”. It is a way of living and is equally good for homosexuals and heterosexuals.
I think it is high time the modern homophile movement started paying more attention to homophile marriage. … Homophile marriage is not only a strictly modern idea that proves our movement today is something new in history, it is the most stable, sensible, and ethical way to live for homophiles. Our homophile movement is going to have to face, sooner or later, the problem of adopting a standard of ethics. We have got to start laying the groundwork. I can’t think of a better way to begin than by pushing homophile marriage,” – Randy Lloyd, One magazine, June 1963.
It seems to me vital to appreciate that the idea of marriage equality goes back a long, long way. It was raised as a subject worthy of a cover-story in One magazine as early as August 1953 (see cover above to the left) – although, as Jim Burroway notes, at that point it was mainly to dismiss it as a reduction in human freedom. Ten years later, you have a somewhat “conservative” case for gay marriage – and its main audience are gay men and women who obviously oppose such an idea. And it’s hard to convey to people in their twenties that, for the longest time, the strongest opposition to marriage equality came from within the gay community itself.
No one believes me any more when I recall how unpopular it was among gays to support marriage equality in the 1980s and early 1990s. Jim Burroway rightly, I think, sees the AIDS epidemic as the turning point:
In 1970, Jack Baker and James McConnell tried to get married in Minneapolis (see May 18) and sued in state and federal court when their request for a license was denied. That ended with the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case. Most gay rights groups at that time were caught up in the broader sexual revolution rhetoric, and had little interest in pushing for something as conventional as marriage. That attitude remained through the 1970s and the 1980s. But when AIDS hit the gay community in the 1980s and partners found themselves blocked by law and relatives from caring for and properly burying their partners and remaining in the homes that they shared together, it finally dawned on a lot of people that they really were married, regardless of whether they had thought of themselves and each other that way or not. And so here we are, a half-century later, and marriage is now at the forefront of the gay rights movement. And in just a few short years, we’ve already seen it expand in ways that Randy Lloyd probably never could begin to imagine.
Somehow, he managed to omit the vital role played by Ted Olson and David Boies.