This week’s editorial opens beneath a comfy party tent erected on the sweeping grounds of the Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art.
Former state Rep. Tommy Burnettself-described liberal and occasional preacheris standing behind a slender, white lectern covered in baby nasturtiums. Inside the lapel of his jet-black suit is a carnation; in his hands he clutches a Bible. Suddenly, a string quartet begins to play “Hear Comes the Bride.” Phil and Daron begin a slow walk down the aisle....
Burnett: Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today before these friends and families to join this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony. We do not...
Burnett is interrupted.
Phil: You mean this man and this other man.
Burnett: Why you’re absolutely right. Ain’t no woman here getting married. We’re talking two boys, two men, actually, regular old cowpokes. Big burly fellows, too, from the looks of it.
Daron: Bigger is better.
Muffled laughter from the crowd. Someone shouts, “You go girl.” For an instant Burnett looks a tad confused.
Burnett: Bigger? Better? Ya’ll ever heard the one about the young stud and the heifer over there in Fentress County? They’re sitting in a pasture when...
Phil: Pastor Burnett, I suggest we move forward with the ceremony.
Burnett: Couldn’t agree more. So let us now commit to refocusing our wits and energies as I begin anew in the administration of today’s ceremony.
Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today before these friends and families to join these two strapping mule kickers in Holy Matrimony. Marriage was originated by God. This is true. But Meet The Press has lately had an influence too.
Burnett nods imperceptibly toward the back of the tent, where no fewer than eight TV cameras are protruding from a riser. Some are filming live.
By what I interpret as my legitimate legal authority as a former state legislator to marry interested parties, and because I dated one of y’all’s mamas years back, I therefore ask this question: Who brought the rings?
Daron: The wedding consultant.
Burnett: Who’s he?
Phil: John Bridges.
Burnett: As in the celebrity author of How to Be a Gentleman?
Daron: Actually just another strapping mule breaker.
Bridges approaches the podium, carrying an ivy-covered silver tray upon which are the rings and three goblets of champagne.
Bridges: Press kits will be available immediately following the ceremony. The satellite uplink code is G7X300.4. And Daron, straighten your tie.
Burnett: May I have the rings please. The ring is an endless circle: a symbol of the covenant you are making today. Burnett pauses, chugs the champagne, holds his glass out to indicate he needs a refill. As you place the ring on your finger, you say: I pledge myself to you. I do believe that...
Suddenly, a chant commences from a crowd of 25 protesters newly gathered outside the tent.
Crowd: IT’S ADAM AND EVE, NOT ADAM AND STEVE. IT’S ADAM AND EVE, NOT ADAM AND STEVE.
Daron: Oh, my.
Phil: And look, they’re trampling the new daffodils.
An enraged Burnett, meanwhile, stalks down from his podium and confronts the crowd. Arms waving, he berates them loudly. CNN dismounts from the riser, rushes to the scene.
Burnett: I want you people to stop this right now, or I’m unloading the real Baby Jesus on your collective cases. Pistol is now brandished and pointed skyward. Sister Tucker, get yourself over in that tent right now. And Brother Dozier, you too, and Richard Land, and Mel Perry, and all of you people, get in my tent post haste, and I ain’t taking NO for an answer!
Protesters scurry, claim available seats.
Burnett: Now, where the hell was I? And why hasn’t anybody filled this danged little goblet like I asked? And to hell with the champagne. I need vodka. Eyes on fire, he stares holes through the protesters. As I was saying, we are here to crown a union among the descendants of that most splendid place, the Garden of Eden. In a world torn asunder by crime and violence and all manner of depredation, we are here to celebrate the opposite: love. How marvelous that two peopleof whatever faith or race of genderhave decided to profess that love. And what a wonderment that they should decide to be honored by God for doing so.
Too much of what we see now is based in hatred; too much is the noise of gongs and not the poetry of God’s good works. Isn’t this a lesson for all of us?
Long silence. Burnett then places his hands on the shoulders of Phil and Daron.
Burnett: I, therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by nobody really, but by the simple fact that I am a human being who sees it as my personal responsibility to encourage all people to live in love, pronounce you two people husband and husband. Or husband and wife. Or whatever you should take it upon yourselves to be and become. Too all of you I say this: I love you all very much. This case is closed.
Bridges: A seated dinner will now be served in the Grand Hall. Those of you who were not invited to the ceremony are certainly welcome. The ceviche is deelish.
Tucker: Is that a carb?