ESSAY- Keep or toss? Attitudes, like frocks, need examination

Keep it or toss it? 

It's hard to let go of burdensome junk– it doesn't look like junk when it's hanging in your closet or snuggled in your drawer.

  A silky white blouse beckons to me from the mountain of clothes heaped on the bed. I've been holding onto this blouse for (could it be?) 20 years. Haven't worn it since 1988. I slip it on and have a look in the mirror. 

Yikes. With those poufy shoulders and lacy high neckline, it could be the top half of an ‘80s wedding dress. It doesn't do a thing for me. With a sigh I add it to the box headed for the Salvation Army.

This is day two of the Great Closet Purge. I've emptied the closet and dumped the whole kaboodle on the bed– that way, I'll be forced to hold up each item for a good hard look.

  This hold-it-up-for-scrutiny method is quite effective at helping me decide whether, say, the high-school gym shorts I will never, ever be able wiggle into again are closet-worthy.

  As I size up and sort, the radio keeps me company. I'm listening to a story about a couple who walked into Newport News Circuit Court a few months ago, got a marriage license, and got married. Then it was discovered that the "bride" was actually a guy. 

(And now I'm thinking that Havisham-esque blouse of mine missed a great recycling opportunity.)

  It's not clear whether this person had undergone surgery to become a female, but the story is enough to get you thinking about trans-gender people and whether their custom-tailored genitalia qualify them to go from being a potential groom to a potential bride. Do you go by the down-unders, or the DNA?

  It gets pretty complicated, once you start prying into other people's business. Who's marrying whom? Men marrying men? Women marrying women? Men marrying women who used to be men?

So much to be outraged about! So many reasons to climb up on our high horse. 

  I have to admit that the first time I heard of gay marriage, I thought it was a bad idea. Gay rights, fine. Let them join the military, or take any job they qualify for, but I drew the line at marriage. 

Why did I hold that opinion? I can't recall. 

  Hard to be aware of everything that's going on from up on that high horse. The thing is, it feels so good up there. I felt superior, looking down on gay people for wanting to be married.  

And superior feels wonderful for a while– until it morphs into feeling isolated and disconnected. 

  If consenting adults want to take legal responsibility for one another, how could that possibly be a detriment to them or to us? More responsibility is a good thing. 

For the life of me, I don't understand how extending matrimonial rights to same-sex couples can harm the institution of marriage.

(I have this fantasy of creating a new political party. I'd call it the "What's It To You? Party." Gay marriage– what's it to you? Using marijuana in the privacy of one's own home– what's it to you? It would be kinda like the Libertarian Party, but with taxes and social services.)

  The most passionate arguments I've heard against gay marriage invoke the sacredness of the "one man/one woman" tradition. 

But the same argument was used to justify wife beating and slavery– both were revered traditions, supported with Biblical references, in our not-so-distant past. 

It makes me wonder what other shabby, unexamined notions I have tucked away. There's something to be said for airing our traditions and beliefs once in a while, holding them up for scrutiny and asking ourselves, "Is this a treasure and or a burden? A keeper or junk?"

  I don't recall what the turning point was for me, the moment when I discarded the notion that homosexuals shouldn't have the right to get married. But, much like that hideous blouse from the ‘80s, it served no purpose, and it didn't do a thing for me.

  If the truth be told, it never did look that great on me.