Savage Bliss 

Your 6-year-old is blasting Black Sabbath while traffic is clogged like a men's room at halftime. Getting to the church on time will require a feat on par with O.J. Simpson's Hertz-induced airport sprint. This is not how you imagined your wedding day, if you imagined one at all.

Your name is Dan Savage: sex columnist at large, licker of Republican doorknobs (long story), and self-described "righteous libertine." In The Commitment, you anguish over predicaments both original (your 6-year-old opposes "boys marrying boys," while your Catholic mom demands it) and not (basic commitment-phobia).

The world is a complicated place, and so too should be anyone's decision to wed in this day of the 50-50 shot at death doing the parting. For Savage and his boyfriend of 10 years, Terry Miller, the marriage question goes hand in hand with the larger political one: Why bother? Sure, the legal protections of marriage are a no-brainer. But the ritual? Why stage it when it has less legal clout than a Chuck E. Cheese's gift certificate?

Or is this merely a convenient way to avoid commitment?

The Commitment is a memoir sprinkled with polemic on gay marriage (in the absence of legal recognition) and gay family life (in the absence of established norms). In some ways, it's a coming-of-age story for a relationship wherein the political is personal, but the personal isn't always political. For instance, Miller's fear that getting married is tantamount to acting like straight people speaks to a classically American anxiety: the fear of becoming a cliché.

Shortly after Sept. 11 -- bear with me on this -- Laura Bush quoted a young girl who, in answer to the "Why do they hate us?" question, remarked that perhaps it is because they (Atta, et al.) don't know our names. As Savage shows, the venom of so many "defenders of marriage" betrays their profound know-nothingness about gay families. Given our polarized culture, one wonders if they'll ever know our names.

Dan Savage reads from The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage and My Family Wed., Sept. 28, 8 p.m., at Outwrite Bookstore, 991 Piedmont Ave. Free. 404-607-0082. Book: $24.95. Dutton. 336 pages.



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