Civil Liberties

Gay Marriage Debate Mangles English Language


be marry

Some say that the gay marriage debate is about redefining the word marriage. The lexicographically-inclined conservatives among us fret that legalizing gay marriage will require English-speakers to shoehorn new meanings into some very old words and phrases. (Hell, some folks still haven't gotten over the "new" definition of the word gay.)

In D.C., the discussion over gay marriage has put some city council members in a bind (ahem, Marion Barry)—including Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr., who represents a district "that contains both quickly gentrifying (and gayifying) areas like Bloomingdale, Eckington, and Brookland, in addition to the generally conservative Bungalow Belt and many of the city's most politically active churches." He is walking a fine line and his spokeswoman, Victoria Leonard, made the mistake of (a) speaking for him and (b) trying to be clear about his position. Hilarity ensued.

"I'm not an attorney, and I'm not a councilmember," [Thomas' spokesman said.] "As a spokesperson, I'll have to learn to be more careful, especially on tumultuous issues."

[The City Paper] finally got Thomas himself on the horn yesterday: "That's why I always speak to you guys directly," Thomas says. "My spokesperson's statement was taken out of character a little bit."

The opponents of gay marriage were so right. Just look at the damage the gay marriage debate has done to the English language. 

Bonus: "Gayifying"?

More gaiety here.