Lena Dunham has a tremendously sad piece in the New Yorker about how her boyfriend told her they would get married once marriage was redefined to include same-sex marriage couples. In his Obergefell decision, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy ruled that such a redefinition was mandated by the U.S. Constitution (though he couldn’t quite explain where or how).
In the wake of the decision, writer and actress Dunham was pestered by her friends about her looming nuptials and even publicly suggested to her boyfriend that a formal proposal would be most welcome:
.@jackantonoff Get on it, yo…
— Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) June 26, 2015
You know where this is going. Turns out Jack Antonoff, her boyfriend, doesn’t want to get married. “Had a perfectly earnest moral and political stance actually been a convenient stalling tactic?” Dunham asks.
Her piece is an attempt to justify why she’s settling for the way he’s now treating her. Much of the piece is about how she truly wants a wedding, this despite the way that Dunham’s mother and various other authority figures tried to beat the desire out of her. As I said, it’s tremendously sad. It’s also a bit uncomfortable to watch it all play out publicly. Perhaps Antonoff is retaliating for Dunham’s quiz from a few months ago comparing him to a dog.
It brings to mind this Amy Schumer sketch.
Her acrobatic leaps of why Antonoff’s treatment is something she’ll put up with showed a certain lack of self-awareness — one I’m sure she’ll work through in her further writing. But there was another thing on which she showed a certain lack of self-awareness. Read this bit from The New Yorker piece:
Three years ago, when I was twenty-five, I met a bespectacled musician named Jack. He had a passion for John Hughes movies and driving on the Jersey Turnpike. His belief in, and insistence on, true equality for L.G.B.T.Q. citizens was no small reason why I fell in love with him, and, early in our relationship, I watched him struggle with the decision of whether or not to perform at a straight couple’s wedding. He discussed the matter at length with queer friends, concerned that it might be a form of betrayal (ultimately, he was given their blessing, though he seemed fairly tortured about it anyhow). The struggle was real and raw for Jack, and so it somehow became understood, between us, that we wouldn’t even consider marrying until every American had the same right. And I said it proudly whenever I had the chance, with the grandiosity and intimations of sacrifice you hear from certain lesser vegans.
So Antonoff struggled with whether to provide music for a wedding because he believed marriage should be defined in such a way as to include same-sex couples. He “struggled” with the decision, concerned it might “be a form of betrayal” to his principles and friends. He was “tortured” about it. Yes, she really writes “the struggle was real” — and raw! — for him.
But shouldn’t she have condemned him for his bigotry?
I mean, we have numerous cases of people having the exact same struggle as Jack did — about whether to provide artistic services such as flowers and cakes — for coupling ceremonies that violate their principles about the truth of marriage. And we’re suing them and placing gag orders on them. Here’s a piece written by the better half about the onerous legal action the state is taking against a couple of cake bakers in Oregon who declined to take part in a wedding celebration that violated their consciences. I doubt Lena wishes Jack Antonoff had been forced to perform his music at any wedding. Most reasonable people think vendors should have the right to refuse service that violates their conscience.
Should such a right of refusal only be extended to the Jack Antonoffs of the world? Or to everyone who is not providing a necessary public accommodation such as food or shelter for travelers? Maybe perfectly earnest moral and political stances should be respected instead of persecuted by the state.