Joe Nocera and Kara Swisher

Joe Nocera and Kara Swisher

An email conversation about the news of the day.
Aug. 23 1999 11:29 AM

Joe Nocera and Kara Swisher

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Dear Joe,

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So I got married this weekend. Yesterday, to be exact, at half past 11 o'clock on an impossibly sunny morning overlooking the San Francisco Bay and its spectacular Golden Gate Bridge. There was a touch of wind blowing off the water, which was enough to keep my guests cool, but not enough to blow their carefully coifed hair into a mousse mess. The amber light sparkled all along the bay as the city of San Francisco lay like a crown jewel in the distance.

If I say so myself, it was a completely perfect wedding to go along with the perfect weather. There were of course the superficial details of the event--from the wildflower arch in front of which we took our vows to the tower of festively decorated individual cupcakes that an ingenious baker hand fashioned into a unique kind of wedding cake to the delightful surprise I got yesterday each time I noticed the antique ring around my finger that had previously and always been bare. And there were the much more profound moments that come from finally committing to a person for the rest of your life--looking into each other's eyes as you are promising to love and cherish one another, the joy radiating from the sea of faces of loved ones who had traveled from near and far to share in the event, the rush of happiness as their glasses clinked in a unified toast to our shared lives that lay ahead with so much possibility.

Imagine my chagrin then, to read an AP story that had popped up over the same weekend that several Republican presidential candidates had pledged to oppose allowing gays and lesbians to adopt children, same-sex relationships under the term "marriage," discussion of homosexuality in schools, and federal laws to specifically protect homosexuals from discrimination, part of an overall effort by a dozen anti-gay groups in this latest election cycle.

Well, since I had just held one of these dreaded same-sex weddings (icky term, don't you think?--I prefer my nephew's "bride-bride" hitching phraseology), I guess they told me. Except, of course, I don't seem to be paying an ounce of attention to the continuing and perplexingly tireless efforts of these groups and the candidates they manage to strong-arm into intolerance. Apparently, a great gob of Republicans had signed on, although only Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch and publisher Steve Forbes (and, no, even though his father, Malcolm, was widely rumored to be gay, I am not going to go there in this obviously ironic twist of dysfunctional familial fate) had confirmed their pledges.

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One plus, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, GOP's Xena Elizabeth Dole, and current phenom Gov. George W. Bush of Texas, did not sign, along with Democratic candidates Vice President Al Gore and Bill Bradley, the former U.S. senator from New Jersey and all around nice-seeming fellow.

So what am I to make of all this? The anti-gay groups never seem to want to give up on their battle to meddle in the private lives of American citizens, while more and more people are learning more and more about the lives of gay people like me every day. The venues are many--from massive news coverage of the coming out of a television star named Ellen (I loved the "Yep, I'm Gay" title in Time magazine--it was more like "Of course, she's a big homo," since most of gay America had gaydared Ms. Degeneres from the second she walked onscreen) to the tragedy of the brutal and senseless killing of Matthew Shepherd. Now, I am not a political person--in fact, I am nearly anti-political. Being a reporter all my life, I have naturally shunned any side-taking. And covering the Internet as I do now, it's not GOP for me, but IPO.

And yet, there I was yesterday, standing up in front of a crowd of 140 people--and hundreds more the night before at a pre-wedding party we also threw--doing something that is apparently at the heart of our current political debate. Now, I know I live in San Francisco--the Super Bowl of sin cities to some--but I did not get the feeling that I was some radical cancer that had invaded the body politic. I simply felt like I was someone in love with a kindred soul, who wanted to be able to declare that in a way that had been going on since the beginning of time.

It's hard to imagine then that, given these complex times, with so many important issues to deal with that are likely to challenge this country going forward, there seems to be such intense focus on this topic. I'd like to know what you think about this, because I cannot for the life of me see why this issue seems to inflame so many. Is it the religious thing? Is it the last gasp of a former culture that wants to hold back the new one? Is it just a smokescreen to inflame voters rather than actually inform them? I only know the words of guest after guest who came up to toast my partner, who talked of love, commitment, family, and the future, and not much of politics.

My partner told one guest she was marrying, but it was a girl and not a boy.

"Well," came the response. "People have been marrying girls for centuries."

I could not have said it better myself. So I won't.

Cheers,
Kara

Joe Nocera is an editor-at-large for Fortune magazine who lives in Northampton, Mass. Kara Swisher covers Silicon Valley for the Wall Street Journal and is the author of aol.com: How Steve Case Beat Bill Gates, Nailed the Netheads, and Made Millions in the War for the Web (clickhereto buy the book).