It is not surprising that Knox students, already members of a highly valued and exclusive institution, would be interested in gaining access and membership to others. On Oct, 7, the recognition some students wanted was from the coveted, yet sometimes inaccessible, institution of marriage.
Six states in the U.S. can marry gay and lesbian couples, and two additional states (plus the District of Columbia) have pledged not to discriminate against married same-sex couples. However, as Common Ground President sophomore Charles Ely pointed out, no visas are granted to any of these legally recognized couples as a consequence of marriage, and there are many other discrepancies between the privileges granted to straight and same-sex couples.
Ely said, “There is so much in the news about gay marriage. But right now, so much is on Congress and Senate’s plate that it would hurt them to act.” While the mock marriages performed on Wednesday called attention to the gravity of these issues, Ely said they were “mostly to have fun.”
Sophomore Piper Jones was the first of the evening to marry. Thomas Martinez sang “Johnny Be Fair,” a humorous folk song about engagement conflict, as Piper walked down to join his hands in mock matrimony to himself.
Sophomore Matthew Becker held the Bible/Torah/Spiritual Guide/Spanish-English Dictionary as he offered the marriage vows: “Do you take this man, for richer, definitely not for poorer; to kiss and to cuddle; through swine flu and regular flu; ‘til we all die a horrible death in 2012?” Jones and Jones agreed.
Junior Laurenn Reid married her cell phone, having obtained permission earlier in the day from Sprint. There was a small controversy about this issue — some believing that permission should have come from Samsung — but despite disagreement, the marriage proceeded smoothly.
Sophomore Kathryn Haynes married Repo Man, whose image was displayed on a laptop, and vowed that “[he’d] stolen [her] heart in more ways than one.”
Alice Nichels married a red stuffed dragon named Squeaky, and after a subsequent divorce, remarried both Squeaky and a tabler named Christina through a window in Seymour.
Becker, who was “kind of upset that no one married a tree this year,” chose Reid as his own partner in marriage. The two hummed the Dr. Who theme song at the altar and pledged their commitment to one another until they either died or left the Gizmo patio, whichever came first.
The last ceremony of the evening was that of Jones and his “harem,” which included freshman Ronni Neumann-Thompson and Shaun Kelly, sophomores Beth McRill, Melissa Sher, Emily Young, and myself. Jones and his wives vowed “it will be hard to fit in [Jones’s] very tiny twin bed, but we think we can do it.”
Although many of the mock marriages recognized on the Gizmo patio were transient, the continuing quest for equal rights they represented will endure. To those husbands and wives who qualify for marriage acceptance, Common Ground offers its congratulations and support.