Some people oppose marriage equality, arguing that marriage is solely a religious institution and not a civil one (and that homosexuality is a sin). Occasionally, these people express their “tolerance” by allowing that both gay and heterosexual couples who choose to get married outside the church should be allowed to engage in civil unions but not “marriages.” Last night, my wife and I, in our ongoing project of re-watching every episode of The Andy Griffith Show, watched the episode called “Mountain Wedding.” The conservative position that the only real marriage is one held in a church reminded me of the position held by Ernest T. Bass, whose actual goal we should remember was to refuse to recognize that Charlene Darling (whom he fancied) was now Mrs. Dudley A. Wash.
The possibilities of progress in this area also cropped up when I happened to see the name of Sheila Kuhl, who used to play boy-crazy (or more specifically Dobie-crazy) Zelda Gilroy on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis in a news item. Rabidly anti-gay Republican state Sen. Roy Ashburn of California was arrested last week on a DUI after leaving a gay bar. Sen. Ashburn subsequently announced at a press conference that he is gay. Former Democratic and openly gay state Sen. Sheila Kuehl (aka Zelda Gilroy) was in Sacramento at the time. Asked about the incident, Kuehl said she hopes Ashburn “receives support, not condemnation, from his friends, family and constituents. It’s very painful,” she said of the coming-out process. “And mostly it’s painful because you think everyone will be against you.” I agree. Ashburn’s problem has to do with the closet, shame, homophobia and homosexual panic, not homosexuality itself.