In 1994, “Straight from the Heart: A Love Story” was published. Written by two male bodybuilders who had fallen in love, the book chronicled their relationship. Thanks to the efforts of the National Enquirer their marriage became a national sensation. The early ‘90s being what they were, it really was a commitment ceremony in their eyes and those of their friends and family.
“Rod and I wanted to get married because in our culture that’s the highest level of public and private commitment we could make to one another. We wanted to get married in a church before God — whatever God is — because we both have deep spiritual beliefs. And we wanted to get married in front of our friends because we wanted them there to witness us making an important statement of commitment.” — Bob Paris, co-author, “Straight from the Heart.”
Now what is telling in this book is the fact that then superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger was invited, along with many other bodybuilders, to the wedding. In the book, Paris and his partner Rod Jackson say that the other bodybuilders looked to Arnold for direction on whether to go or not. He is alleged to have said that if they liked Bob and Rod, and they wanted to go, they should. On the one hand this is a leadership statement that people should do what they want and support the people they believe in.
On the other hand, he didn’t go to the wedding. It could have been a scheduling problem, but I think it is more likely a window into his soul.
The governor has a history of using the gay community to get what he needs. For example, in 1977 when he was a young and presumably cash-strapped young man, he posed naked for the gay magazine After Dark. Later he was a model who was photographed by the well known Robert Mapplethorpe.
He has been quoted as saying, “Gay people are fighting the same kind of stereotyping that bodybuilders are: People have certain misconceptions about them just as they do about us. Well, I have absolutely no hang-ups about the fag business.” I’ll let his politically distasteful use of the word “fag” slide, but it does show his patent disrespect for others.
The governor has been walking a fine line in this whole gay marriage debate, much as he did in the Paris/Jackson contretemps in the late ‘80s. He’s a shrewd man who wants to avoid stepping in anything messy if he can avoid it. His position for the past few years has been that the Legislature, the people and/or the courts should decide the matter. Which covers all the bases and gets him off the hook since there is no one else for him to pass the buck to.
In an ABC News/Washington Post poll, the public was asked who should decide the rules of marriage. Surprisingly enough it was 45 percent for the state legislatures, 40 percent for the courts and 11 percent for both. When our state Legislature passed a gay marriage bill, the governor wouldn’t sign it. He wanted the courts to decide. They did, and then along came Proposition 8. The governor was decidedly quiet for a very long time in the campaign on that one.
The Legislature isn’t supportive of Prop. 8. Both the Assembly and Senate judiciary committees have passed resolutions against Prop. 8. Effectively telling the religious fundamentalists who want to take over the regulation of morality in our society, they are out of line.
Historically, the vote of the people has never been the deciding factor in determining what is a valid marriage. That is a role that is left to legislators and judges. For Americans who intermarried in the ‘60s, it was decided by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Loving v. Virginia. That case stood for the proposition that laws banning interracial marriage were a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. The logic of that ruling is exactly parallel to that of last year’s In Re Marriage Cases, and I expect that it will be repeated this Thursday when the California Supreme court will hear oral arguments on the validity of Prop. 8, and its eventual downfall.
History has shown that standing up for what is right, even though politically unpopular, will guarantee a person a place in history that is well regarded, and failing to do so will guarantee a place in obscurity, or worse, in the hall of cowards.
I know where I want to be.
David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.