Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Monday, October 24, 2016

As a Midwesterner who likes to brag about our heartland ways, it’s rare for me to envy New Yorkers.

This week, though, I’m as green as summer clover at the sight of all those beautiful same-sex couples exchanging vows in New York.

How I wish every state valued marriage this much.

Online photo galleries told the story of bliss in all its forms as lesbian and gay couples finally got the chance to make their love official.

You could tell by their faces that some of them had been in committed relationships for decades. Love someone long enough and you start to look like him/her, too.

Unfortunately, when it comes to gay marriage, one man’s joy is still another man’s apoplexy. It didn’t take long for Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty to unravel over all that knot-tying in New York.

“I think it’s a bad idea,” he told CNN’s Candy Crowley.

Crowley is one of the brightest lights on the Sunday morning talk show circuit. She tried her best to get a straight answer from Pawlenty as to why he thinks gay marriage is such a threat to America.

He was so awkward during their interview that I couldn’t stop wincing, and I don’t even support the guy.

An excerpt:

Pawlenty: I think, when society devalues traditional marriage by saying all other domestic relationships are the same as traditional marriage, you then dilute and devalue traditional marriage.

Crowley: And it’s a cultural thing to you that — just culturally or religiously you don’t believe that and won’t believe that?

Pawlenty: Well, it’s more — yeah, I mean, it’s certainly a social and cultural and moral issue. But it also has practical effects. I mean, I think, you know, obviously a man and a woman together are the traditional family. That’s how children are born and raised, traditionally.

Crowley: There (are) plenty of single parents.

Pawlenty: Of course.

Crowley: There are plenty of gay couples with children that have, you know, adopted or otherwise, you know, had surrogates, whatever happens. Are those not families?

Pawlenty: There are many examples of single parents and others who heroically and lovingly raise children. Obviously, an example would be somebody who, you know, lost a spouse and is working two jobs and has children.

A few disclosures on my part:

1) I’m a straight woman married to a straight man. His name is Sherrod Brown.

2) Before we married, both of us were longtime single parents. Neither of us, though, was widowed, nor did we hold more than one paid job at a time. By Pawlenty’s standards, I guess that means we were inferior versions of single parents.

Despite our deficiencies, our kids turned out just fine.


3) Sherrod was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives when he first asked me out for a date.

Unlike Pawlenty, he’s a Democrat, but there are plenty of Democrats who don’t act like it when it comes to gay marriage. So before I agreed to date him, I looked up his vote on the Defense of Marriage Act to make sure he didn’t fall for that stunt. Whew again.

4) On the day we exchanged marital vows, the Rev. Kate Matthews Huey officiated. She’s gay. She’s been in a committed relationship with the irrepressible Jackie for 17 years. Our only issue with them is that they have six grandchildren to our one. We try not to hold this against them.

Regarding Pawlenty’s dilute-and-devalue argument: My husband and I were crazy in love before lesbians and gays could marry, and we’re still silly for each other no matter how many gay couples say “I do.”

We have, however, noticed one change in our relationship since gay marriage became legal in Massachusetts, which was the first state to do so, in 2004. One of us looks way grayer. We blame this on marriage, but not a gay one, and thanks to hair colorist extraordinaire Rosie Rosalina, it is so not my problem.

Ah, love.

It’s in the air in New York.

May it waft across the heartland, and soon.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland and an essayist for Parade magazine.