We are gathered here together, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, for funnier or, I hope, even funnier, to cast a jaundiced cartoon eye (and if you’ve ever had a jaundiced cartoon eye, you know how painful that can be) on a topic that’s much in the public eye these days: same-sex marriage, not to be confused with its hetero-normative near-homonym:
Marriage, gay or straight, is a serious business, not to be entered into unadvisedly, although once the date is set, the advice of counsel is not recommended:
It is clear that marriage should not be entered into lightly—unless you’re a cartoonist, in which case light is the right way to go:
Marriage has always been a bottomless well of inspiration for New Yorker cartoonists, who witness the challenge that any couple faces in attempting to make their union civil, often to no avail:
And while the current sea change in attitudes toward marriage has given many institutions mal de mer, for New Yorker cartoonists it has been a spring tide on a familiar subject.
Not that attitudes toward marriage haven’t evolved over the decades. Older cartoons often confronted issues both ridiculous and sublime, sometimes simultaneously:
Any kind of marriage can be a union of the heart, body, and mind—a wellspring of mutual joy and the foundation for a stable and loving environment. In which case, it has no place in cartoons:
That’s not to say it’s impossible to create a cartoon about marriage that focusses on the need for mutual understanding and sensitivity in a relationship. As many of us have learned through the years, it is important to enter marriage with realistic expectations.
Even though The New Yorker’s cartoon record reveals a somewhat cynical attitude toward the sanctity, sanity, and stability of marriage, most cartoonists I know have tied the knot, and don’t consider it a noose. And some, like myself, have tied it, untied it, and tied it yet again.
Specious arguments against same-sex marriage aside,
an objection to same-sex marriage could be based on experiential, not moral grounds:
That objection notwithstanding, I can report that, when I asked New Yorker cartoonists if they approved of same-sex marriage, whether Republican or Democrat, straight or gay, all proudly said, “I do!”