Love Stories: Tony Kushner and Mark Harris

If there’s one man who is essential to the gay brain trust, it’s Tony Kushner. His towering, Pulitzer Prize–winning drama Angels in America galvanized Americans to make a deeper political and emotional commitment to the value of a gay life. Kushner found that same commitment with author and columnist Mark Harris.

BY Anne Stockwell

October 07 2008 11:00 PM ET

Married: August
15, 2008 Together: 10 years

If there’s
one man who is essential to the gay brain trust, it’s
Tony Kushner. His towering, Pulitzer
Prize–winning drama Angels in America
galvanized Americans to make a deeper political and
emotional commitment to the value of a gay life.
Kushner found that same commitment with author and
columnist Mark Harris. In 2003, five years after they met
and fell in love, the couple held what Kushner describes as
a “big fancy wedding” for friends and
family in New York City.

This summer they
planned to marry legally in California, but the presence
of antigay Proposition 8 on the California ballot gave them
pause. “It’s kind of a scary
situation,” Kushner says. “I’m assuming
that marriages will remain legal in California, but
they could, of course, be taken away.”

Just then -- in
what could be called perfect theatrical timing --
Massachusetts decided to recognize same-sex marriages for
out-of-state couples. “They hadn’t even
created new paperwork to accommodate that by the time
we went there and got married,” Harris says. Kushner
and Harris made it legal in Provincetown on August 15
-- just the two of them. “We were married by a
nice lady cop in the town hall,” Kushner says.

The importance of
their marriage took a bit of time to sink in. “The
ceremony itself was just this nice person reading these vows
and filling out the marriage license form,”
Kushner says. “But when we went back a week
later and actually picked up the certificate itself, it was
really moving because it’s legal recognition of
our status as a married couple, and it’s one
step closer to actual citizenship, to actually being a
recognized person in our own country. It was something that
I never really imagined would happen.”

Harris adds,
“The great thing about this is, it’s not
something that was accomplished by artists or
accomplished by visionaries. It was accomplished by
decent citizens electing decent state officials who did
the decent thing. It doesn’t take a giant leap into
the stratosphere, it just takes good citizenship to
recognize that this is something that gay people
deserve and should be able to participate in.”

There are still a
few details of being married that haven’t become
second nature just yet. “It’s so much
easier to say ‘partner,’ ”
Kushner says, “but I want to try to force
myself to say ‘my husband, Mark,’ because
those words matter.” And monogamy? “For us,
it’s monogamy,” Kushner says,
“but we’re not Republicans --
we’re not in the business of prescribing what
[marriage] should be.”

“It’s hard to believe that a lot of straight
couples are actually monogamous,” Harris adds.
Kushner laughs, saying, “There’d be no
literature or drama or movies if they were.”

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