When Celebrities Marry

Rosie O'Donnell says she's getting hitched - again. Do celebrities help or hurt the marriage equality movement?

This week, Rosie O’Donnell announced that she would be tying the knot with her current girlfriend, a New York City headhunter named Michelle Rounds. She tells Us magazine that the two met at Starbucks – Rosie thought that Rounds was way too young and straight, only to discover that, yep, she’s a lesbian and in her 40s. They only recently (as in a few months ago) made their relationship public, which has some people wondering if things are moving awfully fast. O’Donnell had previously been married to Kelli Carpenter with whom she has four children.

With this latest nuptial news making mainstream and gay entertainment headlines alike, it got us thinking about whether well-known gay and lesbian couples can help make a case for same-sex marriage. Celebrities, after all, are not always famous for keeping their vows. And while we’re guessing that these Sapphic sisters will likely make it legal in New York or Chicago, where marriage is already legal for same-sex couples, does their revelation do anything to convince naysayers that gay marriage is actually a good idea?

On one hand, using celebrities as poster children for marriage equality can be risky. The track record for fidelity in Hollywood isn’t winning any gold medals. Kim Kardashian, for one, did nothing to help the straight matrimony business (though she has inspired more than a few gay marriage battle cries). Thanks for that, Kim.

But unlike the average Joe and Jane, these folks certainly come with plenty of real estate potential in the news department. Like Ellen DeGeneres, O’Donnell has a built-in platform as host of The Rosie Show on the OWN network where she can (if she chooses) talk about same-sex marriage as it relates to her personal life. She brought the discussion into the light on The View, where relationship talk included both hetero and homo perspectives during her reign. And likewise – DeGeneres regularly touts her domestic life with partner Porta De Rossi. For people who may not think they know any same-sex couples, the normalization factor is powerful on such a world stage.

O’Donnell also has a huge following in the social media sphere, including Instagram and Twitter, where she recently posted photos of her gal pal with no shortage of adorations, prompting many to speculate that these two could make it legal by the holidays.

So will someone like O’Donnell help or hurt the gay marriage debate? And is it fair to place so much responsibility on a few familiar faces – and hold it against them if the relationship doesn’t work out? Unlike famous straight folks (high divorce rates and all) gay and lesbian couples in the public eye seem to face a lot more pressure and scrutiny to make things work for the sake of social reform. It’s tough enough to make a relationship work these days. Add to that social responsibility, political efforts and backlash and any happy marriage could end in disaster.

Do gay and lesbian couples ever really get a fair start – especially when they’re in the public eye? Or is there a danger in getting that proverbial U-Haul out a little too prematurely?