‘Golly!’ There’s nothing to fear about gay marriage!
Well, surprise, surprise, surprise!
Gomer Pyle went and got married yesterday.
News outlets reported yesterday that 83-year-old Jim Nabors, the man who played the lovable goofball who first appeared on “The Andy Griffith Show” and parlayed that fame into a starring role on “Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.,” wed his significant other of 38 years.
It was also the first public confirmation that Nabors is gay. His wedding, you see, was in Washington State. His partner is Stan Cadwallader, a former Los Angeles firefighter. The two took advantage of Washington’s legalization of same-sex marriage to have the ceremony performed.
That’s longer than most marriages these days. As of 2009, first marriages which ended in divorce lasted a median of 8 years for both men and women, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Nabors and Cadwallader beat those odds by three decades, and I think anyone — gay or straight — who knows how hard relationships can be should offer them a round of applause.
Staying with the same person for 38 years takes dedication, hard work and commitment. It takes values, something those opposed to gay marriage like to argue will be in jeopardy should homosexuals be allowed to marry across the country. I don’t know about you, but I think a union of almost four decades is a lot more wholesome and stable than the cycle of marriage and divorce so common among heterosexual couplings.
It’s a shame, in my opinion, that two people dedicated to one another for so long were denied basic rights that heterosexuals regard so casually. In a telephone interview with Hawaii News Now, Nabors acknowledged that until recent laws passed in Washington and other states, he and his partner “had no rights as a couple ... yet when you’ve been together 38 years, I think something’s got to happen there, you’ve got to solidify something.”
News of Nabors’ nuptials got me thinking: Why is there such visceral opposition to gay marriage? Why would anyone deny poor ol’ Gomer Pyle, an American icon who brought a lot of laughter to so many lives, the right to wed the love of his life? Why do some people feel so threatened by gay marriage that they actively fight it?
There’s the family values argument, but given the divorce rate in this country, and the example that couples like Nabors and Cadwallader have set, I think that’s a pretty flimsy one. And if you feel two homosexuals getting married threatens the sanctity of your own marriage, I have to ask: Why? Does their bliss endanger yours? Does two people being in love with one another and committed to one another make your own relationship weaker? Does the sanctity of your marriage feel threatened by the enormous amount of divorce petitions filed every day across this country? (And hey, check this out: Massachusetts, the first state to legalize gay marriage in 2004, saw its divorce rate drop by 21 percent between 2003 and 2008. Coincidence?)
And of course, there’s the “slippery slope” argument, the idea that legalization of gay marriage will lead to the downfall of Western civilization, with individuals soon seeking the freedom to marry their cousins, their cars and their dead cats. Such arguments are logical fallacies, of course — and I’d point out the same ones were made when interracial marriages were illegal. As rhetoric professor Jeffery L. Bineham put it, “The question of whether to allow marriages irrespective of age, family status or number of partners involves issues different from the question of whether to allow same-sex marriage, and an argument in favor of the latter is not an argument in favor of any of the former.”
And then there’s the Biblical argument against gay marriage, the whole “man shall not lay with man as with a woman” thing. That’s well and good, and if you believe in a literal, word-for-word interpretation of the Bible, I would ask if you also believe it’s unclean to eat pork and disrespectful to the Lord when a woman speaks her mind in church. But hey, we can always refer back to what Jesus said about gay marriage: Oh yeah, nothing.
Personally, I think the whole debate over gay marriage comes down to one thing: Fear. Fear of something different, of something alien to the way we live our own lives. Personally, I find it puzzling how anyone could let the way someone else chooses to live his life affect the way I choose to live mine on such a visceral, fundamental level. I can’t fathom feeling so uncertain, so endangered in my own beliefs that I want to establish them as law to ensure the rest of the world follows suit.
And so to Mr. Nabors — all jokes of “Shazam!” and “Golly!” aside — I wish you and your beloved the best. I have fond memories of watching “Gomer Pyle” as a kid, and those memories aren’t tarnished in the least by yesterday’s announcement. If anything, my admiration for you has only grown.
I would also wish you a long marriage, but after being together for so long, I think you and Mr. Cadwallader could teach the rest of us — gay and straight — a thing or two about commitment and love.
Steve Wildsmith is the Weekend editor for The Daily Times. Contact him at (firstname.lastname@example.org) or at 981-1144.