What’s going on with you and your girlfriend of nearly 10 years, Jennifer Westfeldt [cowriter and star of Kissing Jessica Stein]? Are you waiting for gay marriage to be legal before tying the knot?
Yeah, that’s a totally fair observation. Somebody once said — more hilariously than I can — that everybody ought to be allowed to be miserable in the same way. And it’s not fair that a man and man and a woman and a woman can’t choose to be protected under our government’s laws together. That’s just stupid, and I don’t understand the rationale behind it. I think marriage, the institution, is driven much more by religion and family than it is by any sort of practical application of love. Love exists outside of government, so that’s how Jen and I have our relationship. We discuss it all the time; we’re like, “We’re totally in love with each other, so why would we want to change the rules of that, if in fact that would?” Then, of course, you get into the practicalities of it, like, “What if you get sick and I can’t visit you in the hospital?” or “What if you die and all your stuff goes to the state?” You’re like, “Well, that makes sense. Shit, how do we handle that?” So it’s unfair that the practical applications of it are not available to everyone. Then you mix in all the political grandstanding and bullshit that surrounds it, and it goes from unfair to absurd.
Earlier this year you appeared on Real Time With Bill Maher. What did you learn from your fellow panelist congressman Barney Frank?
I learned how to talk really loud and shout over anyone who disagrees with you. No, he’s an incredibly intelligent guy and a pioneer. Talk about having the balls to speak your mind.
Growing up in St. Louis, when did you first realize what being gay was?
I don’t have a recollection of knowing what gay was in high school, and if I did, it was a nebulous thing. Then I was in the theater department at the University of Missouri, and it was like, “Well, now you know!” But it was never treated with any sort of disdain or secrecy, and that’s the wonderful part about most theater departments: Everybody’s everybody and you are who you are. Gay, straight, or indifferent, it doesn’t matter — there’s enough drama on the page that you don’t need to bring more into it.
Was your upbringing anything like Judy Garland’s in Meet Me in St. Louis?
It wasn’t the turn of the century, so no, not at all. I couldn’t have been more of a regular, goofy Midwestern kid.
Fair enough. But if you ever get asked a gayer question than that, Jon, you call and let me know.