Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Rules of Engagement

A happy day for the forces of moral progress. A federal judge in California decided that it wasn't OK after all for the majority to confiscate a civil right from a minority, and overturned the "Prop 8" ban on gay marriage (subject to further appeal, of course, but it's hard not to feel that the gay marriage genie is never going to go back into the tastefully-appointed bottle now).

In honor of the occasion, lefty blustermeister Keith Olbermann ended his show tonight with a rerun of his impassioned Special Comment (is there any other kind?) from November 2008, when the abominable Prop 8 passed. This site offers a video clip and transcript, from which I quote the following:

I keep hearing this term "re-defining" marriage. If this country hadn't re-defined marriage, black people still couldn't marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal in 1967. 1967.
The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn't have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it's worse than that. If this country had not "re-defined" marriage, some black people still couldn't marry black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not "Until Death, Do You Part," but "Until Death or Distance, Do You Part." Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.
You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.

It's well worth checking out, if only to see the sanctimonious Olbermann employing his best "how dare you, sir" sanctimony in the service of smiting an enemy that could use some sanctimonious sanctioning.

But in the heat of the moment, let's not overlook the nits that need picking. Standard matrimonial patter gives us the phrase, "until death do you part"--meaning, I'm quite sure, that death gets to do the parting of the happy couple. When you insert a comma to make it "Until Death, Do You Part"--as it is rendered in this transcript (with hysterical flourishes of capitalization, I might add)--it sounds like you, the couple, may now part...until death.

A minor quibble, I grant you. But as we're finding out, when it comes to defining marriage and its rules, details matter.