When my wife picked up our 6-year-old from a recent group play date, the small talk took an unexpected turn.
The rundown of the play date was fairly typical: they traded NFL stickers, played Xbox, used iPads and drank gallons of Capri Sun.
"Oh, I forgot to tell you," my son said. "We had a wedding."
"Who got married?" My wife asked.
"Wilford and Brimley*."
*In lieu of using real names, I chose the greatest actor from the Cocoon series and the man who inspired me to eat oatmeal and split him into two
"Wilford and Brimley got married?"
"Yep," my son said.
"Where was the wedding?"
"In the basement."
"It was just me, Wilford and Brimley."
"What were you doing during the wedding?"
"I was the rabbi."
That's right, my son officiated a gay wedding. Clever move being the rabbi because who the hell wants to be in a committed relationship at such a young age?
I'm not sure what kind of vows were exchanged, but he did instruct the groom to kiss the groom.
"I had to step in at that point," Wilford's mom said.
I had lots of questions for my boy:
"How much do we have to spend on a gift?"
"One hundred dollars."
"Eesh. That's a little steep for two 6-year-olds, don't you think?"
"Brimley's almost 7."
"How did you prepare to officiate a wedding?"
"I just know how to do it," he said.
"So you're a rabbi all of a sudden?"
"Just during the wedding."
"How did you know Wilford and Brimley were right for each other?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean how do you know that they should be married to each other? Mom and I dated for two years and then we were engaged for another year before we got married."
"Dad, they were in the same kindergarten class last year. Also, Wilford traded Brimley a Tennessee Titans Rush Zone sticker for a Minnesota Vikings one."
Here's the thing: My son's generation will be the first in America to grow up with the institution of gay marriage as the norm. As the rule, not the exception. As a celebration, not an abomination.
Gay marriage is one of the few social justice issues this country is finally getting right. Over 55% of Americans are in favor of it, and gay marriage is now legal in 38 states with many surprises like Florida, Indiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Wyoming. It's in the works in five states and banned in only seven.
It helps that our son began asking questions about marriage and weddings right when gay marriage passed in Illinois. Legal or not, we'd still raise our kids to embrace it, but it's nice to begin conversations with, "So you know how a man can marry a man or a woman can marry a woman in Illinois?"
When I was my son's age, there was no such thing as gay marriage. Gay marriage was not legal in any state or anywhere in the world. When I say no such thing, I mean the idea of a gay wedding or a marriage certificate documenting the union of members of the same sex did not exist. The seeds were hardly being sown. Gay culture occurred in an alternate universe and was kept very segregated from the mainstream.
A play date turned faux-gay wedding never happened among us because the concept was completely foreign. I'm not blaming our parents because as open-minded as they were, they really had no reason to be hopeful. After all, the most progress that occurred in the first decade of my life was the passing of the first domestic partnership law in Berkley, California. Then my second decade was unfortunately bookended with Bill Clinton signing into law the Defense of Marriage Act.
But then The Netherlands became the first country to legalize gay marriage in 2001, and two years later gays could marry in Massachusetts. Now we're at 38, though Alabama is pulling out all the stops to ban marriages that were just unbanned by a federal judge. Oh Alabama.
I mentioned earlier that the post-play date conversation took an unexpected turn because a gay wedding broke out. Sure, it was an unexpected turn to a couple of Gen Xers, and it would be more so to our parents and grandparents. But to my son and Wilford and Brimley, it was a fantasy very much rooted in today's reality, and that's a beautiful thing.
When I talk about gay marriage with my son, there are no awkward questions, just standard inquiries about jewelry.
"Will they go to Jared?"
"Jared, the Galleria of Jewelry."
"How do you know that about that?"
"I see the commercials."
"Of course you do. I don't know if they'll go to Jared."
"Did you go to Jared when you and Mom got married?"
"Hell no. That place is a ripoff."
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