:: Anthony and Huma, and Will and Kate
Those marriages between men and women
by David Hoppe
Marriage is all around us.
First, there was the Supreme Court’s capsizing of DOMA, the weirdly named Defense of Marriage Act. DOMA attempted to build a stockade around marriage in order to keep some people — same sex couples — from enjoying the same rights and privileges as their hetero neighbors.
DOMA was a misbegotten attempt to make marriage more valuable by making it harder to come by. This proved to be a hard sell in a populist society like ours, where value is more readily understood in terms of abundance. We tend to believe that if something, like marriage, is really good, it should be available to anyone who wants to participate. According to this view, marriage doesn’t need defending; the more the merrier.
For DOMA’s defenders, this approach demeans and trivializes marriage, an institution they believe is supposed to be defined as an official bond between one man and one woman.
One man and one woman, for instance, like Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin. No sooner was gay peoples’ right to marry affirmed than this New York power couple sent a message amounting to, “Be careful what you wish for.”
Once upon a time, Weiner and Abedin must have seemed like a match made in political heaven. He was a fast-talking liberal congressman, a go-to guy for snappy sound bites on the cable-TV news shows. She was one of Hillary Clinton’s most trusted advisors, whose brains and beauty made her Hillary’s “Secret Weapon,” according to a fashion spread in Vogue magazine.
Weiner and Abedin had it made. Oh, (with apologies to Dr. Seuss) the places they were bound to go. Then came the first big Oops. Anthony, it turned out, had this habit of sending crotch shots of himself to various women via the Internet. This did not play with his constituents in Brooklyn. He was forced to resign his seat in congress.
Weiner apologized profusely. Huma seemed to forgive him. The couple was featured in a cover story for the Sunday New York Times Magazine, looking like the very model of man-woman marriage. They were shown doting on their little boy and Anthony let it be known that he was contemplating a run for mayor of New York City.
For some people, marriage is indeed a wondrous thing. Bill Clinton, for example, could have married Paula Jones, or any one of the other women he was compulsively attracted to in Arkansas. He chose Hillary instead, someone arguably smarter and more capable than he was. Together they made it to the presidency.
Similarly, the thought must have crossed Weiner’s mind when he met Abedin that here was an alliance that could make big things happen for them both. God only knows what Abedin was thinking. People constantly say she likes her privacy; in that case, she should have married an English professor.
As we all know by now, there was another Oops. And another, and another. Not even Weiner can say how many. Weiner, it turns out, uses social media the way an older generation of guys used trench coats. Those guys were called flashers and pervs. Weiner, in today’s therapeutic parlance is a “sex addict.”
In Weiner’s mind, this does not disqualify him for being mayor of the nation’s biggest city. It seems Abedin agrees. “I do very strongly believe that that,” her husband’s habit of hitting the SEND button, “is between us and our marriage,” she told a press conference.
What man wouldn’t want to be married after a show of support from a woman like that? And if her husband is elected, Abedin, like her mentor, Hillary, will doubtless have any number of opportunities to show us just how great marriage between a man and a woman can be.
But Anthony and Huma aren’t the only couple who have been on public display lately. Over in England, Prince William and his princess, Kate, showed the world just what the defenders of marriage have been talking about when Will and Kate introduced their Baby George.
The self-styled defenders of marriage rarely come out and talk about sex, but sex is what keeping marriage between a man and woman is really about. Marriage, as far as its supposed defenders are concerned, amounts to a license to do it, since sex for them is nasty when procreation is not involved. This is why they have problems with birth control. Making love instead of babies is, if not unthinkable, unmentionable.
So the perpetuation of the British monarchy via a highly publicized romance, followed by marriage and, now, the royal baby carriage, provides a great boost for anyone suffering from the decoupling of sex from what used to be called traditional values.
It was actually sweet to see the world’s media awaiting the news that Kate had given birth and then that all was well. Will determinedly putting the baby’s car seat in the back of his Land Rover and driving his brood home (albeit to Kensington Palace) created irrational gushes of happiness from all kinds of people you’d think would know better.
But so what. The young royals didn’t seem to be trying to score anything but style points. There was nothing they needed to defend. For a moment these larger-than-life characters seemed the same size as the rest of us.