Equal Rights, Equal Registries!

Because everyone should be able to demand a KitchenAid mixer

Big news: A judge in Boston ruled that the federal ban against same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Bigger news: Same-sex couples can compete in the Today show’s “Modern Day Wedding Contest.”

Though both stories broke last week, the federal-court ruling had infinitely more traction.  This reflects a major error in media judgment.

Constitutional decisions carry weight, but they pale in comparison to the chance to win an all-expenses-paid wedding in New York, to be broadcast live on NBC in October. The package, including honeymoon, is worth an estimated $300,000 to $500,000.

This illustrates how the media are completely missing the point in the gay marriage narrative. It is not about equality. It is about gifts.

I am embarrassed to admit that my gal and I hadn’t given a thought to bows and ribbons when we began planning our wedding in 1993. It wasn’t until the fifth or sixth person asked us, “Where are you registered?,” that we realized we had better educate ourselves on proper wedding etiquette.

We learned quickly that to guarantee good gifts, you’ve got to pick them yourself. That means going to your store(s) of choice, checking off the stuff you want and registering the list on the store’s website. No sweat.

Still, we thought it was kind of silly – a vestige of heterosexual privilege. But after a good five minutes’ reflection, we saw the genius of it. As a gay couple, why shouldn’t we enjoy the same material fringe benefits as our heterosexual counterparts?

When you come right down to it, who needs shared Social Security benefits when you can play “Supermarket Sweepstakes” with your friends and family?

We were living in Fairmount at the time, so we decided to register in Center City at Strawbridge’s (RIP) and a hip boutique (also RIP) whose name I can’t even remember. The concept of same-sex marriage was a bit out of reach for the middle-aged saleslady at Strawbridge’s, but she did her best to accommodate the wacky lesbians. The boutique was a slam-dunk. It reeked of homo-chic.

The result was more than worth the effort. With more than 100 guests, we did not return a single gift. Though neither of us cooks, we were thrilled to receive a full set of pots and pans to foster the illusion that we did. More usable (for us) house items abounded – 600-thread-count sheets, plush towels, industrial-size coffee cups without moronic writing on them. (“Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee.”) As if.

Here’s the moral of the story: All same-sex couples planning to marry should register. There, I’ve said it. Getting registered is fun, it’s good for the economy and it increases the odds against stupid gifts that you’ll ditch, return, or re-gift —hopefully not to the person who gave it to you.

And in a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to pay any of the wedding expenses, like the winning couple of the Today contest. Only one problem, same-sex fiancées —the deadline for entries was yesterday. Put it on your calendars for next year.

Here come the brides.

GAIL SHISTER, TV columnist for the Inquirer for 25 years, teaches writing at Penn and is a columnist for tvnewser.com. She writes for The Philly Post on Tuesdays.