Masha Gessen is a talented writer. Her widely praised (and sharply critical) biography of Vladimir Putin is only the most recent of her books across a range of subjects from Russian history, to mathematics, to the social implications of modern genetics. On top of her exertions as an author, she has served as Director of the Russian service of the U.S. government–funded Radio Liberty. She is a self-identified lesbian and a leading activist in the U.S. and Russia. (She holds citizenship in both countries.) Although she is anything but a fringe figure within the movement, she is notable for her candor in discussing its beliefs and goals. At last year’s meeting of the Sydney Writers’ Festival (audio here) she spoke plainly:
It’s a no-brainer that (homosexuals) should have the right to marry, but I also think equally that it’s a no-brainer that the institution of marriage should not exist. . . . Fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what we are going to do with marriage when we get there—because we lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie. The institution of marriage is going to change, and it should change. And again, I don’t think it should exist. And I don’t like taking part in creating fictions about my life. That’s sort of not what I had in mind when I came out thirty years ago.
I have three kids who have five parents, more or less, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t have five parents legally. . . . I met my new partner, and she had just had a baby, and that baby’s biological father is my brother, and my daughter’s biological father is a man who lives in Russia, and my adopted son also considers him his father. So the five parents break down into two groups of three. . . . And really, I would like to live in a legal system that is capable of reflecting that reality, and I don’t think that’s compatible with the institution of marriage.
Just imagine the uproar had, say, Rick Santorum said ,“Fighting for gay marriage generally involves lying about what [they] are going to do with marriage when [they] get there—because [they] lie that the institution of marriage is not going to change, and that is a lie.” But, of course, you don’t have to take it from Rick Santorum or other defenders of marriage as a conjugal union. Masha Gessen will tell you the same thing.