I’m worried about the Supreme Court. I’m worried about how the justices can properly debate same-sex marriage when some don’t even seem to realize that most Americans use the word “gay” now instead of “homosexual”; when Chief Justice John Roberts thinks gays are merely concerned with marriage as a desirable “label”; and when Justice Samuel Alito compares gay marriage to cellphones.
The Nine are back there in their Miss Havisham lairs mulling, disconcertingly disconnected. In his zeal to scare people about the “possible deleterious effect” of gay parents adopting, Justice Antonin Scalia did not seem fully cognizant that gays and lesbians can have their own biological children.
Max Mutchnick, who created and wrote “Will & Grace” with David Kohan, is worried as well. His landmark show came up as a cultural marker during the court proceedings challenging Prop 8. When I was in California covering that trial in 2010, I spent time in Los Angeles with Max, his husband, Erik Hyman, an entertainment lawyer, and their bewitching twin daughters born through a surrogate, Evan and Rose. (In an amazing biological feat, both men fertilized the eggs, so that one daughter looks like Erik and one like Max.)
Erik told me then that taking vows in front of a rabbi and their families (two weeks before Prop 8 passed) made him feel different. “Now that I’m actually married,” he said, “it drives me completely crazy when the other side talks about ‘the sanctity of marriage.’ I’m committed to my spouse. We’re faithful to each other. We’re raising twin girls together. It’s deeply offensive to hear someone say that what we’re doing is robbing them of the ‘sanctity’ of what they’re doing, as though my very existence is unholy.”
On Sunday, stealing a moment in the midst of taking Evan and Rose to a West Hollywood park and a stage version of “Beauty and the Beast” at the Pantages, Max emailed me about how discouraged he felt after last week’s arguments at the Supreme Court: “I’m like every other dad in this park: horn-rimmed glasses and baseball hat, New York Times folded in quarters, ignoring my kids dressed in Ralph Lauren Collection playing. But the difference is, every day I open the paper and read about the fact that I’m just kind of gross, according to a lot of people. It’s such an odd thing to live with. I’m so tired of it.”
I asked Max to elaborate. This is what he wrote:
“One of my favorite episodes of ‘Will & Grace’ was ‘Homo for the Holidays,’ the story of Jack coming out to his mother. The gang finds out that Jack is not the ‘out and proud’ poster child that he pretends to be, but, in fact, has been telling his mother that Grace was his ex-girlfriend. Will confronts his best friend about his lying and pointedly asks Jack, ‘Aren’t you tired yet?’
I believe if you’re a homosexual of a certain age or one born on the wrong block in this country, your first steps are inextricably fused with lying. It makes the journey of life much heavier. Like Jack, I eventually grew tired of lying and came out to everyone. Now, however, I find myself tired of telling the truth.
It’s tiring being a member of the last group in America subject to official discrimination. If the gay civil rights movement were a musical comedy, it might be titled ‘A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Supreme Court.’
More and more people think it’s wrong to hate gays. The support for same-sex marriage now exceeds the opposition to it. According to Rick Santorum, that’s all because of ‘Will & Grace.’ (Thanks, cutie. DVD sales are way up!) But, if the good guys are on my side, why do I feel so depleted? I live in a place where all men are created equal, but, for some reason, I am not afforded the same rights. Should my take-away be: I am not a man? It feels as though the Supreme Court is OK with that notion. This court is speaking some of the same language that was being used before Stonewall.
Justice Alito raised the question of whether or not it’s too soon to allow gay people to marry. Is it better to keep doing what’s wrong until people are good and ready to do what’s right? Scalia uses the word ‘homosexual’ the way George Wallace used the word ‘Negro.’ There’s a tone to it. It’s humiliating and hurtful. I don’t think I’m being overly sensitive, merely vigilant. I once had to be vigilant for fear that people would find out what I am. Now I have to be vigilant for fear that I will be discriminated against for what I am. Then, as now, it’s a defense against danger.
No wonder I’m tired. I’m committed to fighting this battle until the war is won. I owe it to my inner gay child and my daughters. As Dr. King said, ‘The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.’ It’s the long part that’s kicking my butt.”