WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?

PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING, ACCORDING TO 90 YEAR OLD HARRIS WOFFORD



I’m not sure why former Senator from Pennsylvania, Harris Wofford’s (age 90) and Matthew Charlton, age 40, love story has struck such a resonant chord around the country, but apparently it has.  Married to a woman for 48 years (his wife died from leukemia in 1996) Wofford and Charlton will tie the knot this weekend.  They’ve known each other for 15 years, met on a Fort Lauderdale beach, fell instantly in love with one another, have co-habited for six years here in Washington and will marry with Wofford’s daughter, Susanne – she’s older than Matthew – acting as “master of ceremonies” at her father’s wedding.   And, no, you really can’t make this stuff up.

In a near-perfect script of how liberal values can trump any and every obstacle, 90 year old Harris and 40 year old Matthew’s marriage seems like the ultimate feel-good story for the ages.  Tall and courtly, Wofford has been an idealist for social justice his entire life. In many ways, his public declaration of marriage at age 90 to another man can be seen as one of his last and most deeply personal acts in furthering the cause of equal rights.


Wofford attended Howard Law School in the 1950s, becoming, he believes, the program’s first white graduate.  (He has law degrees from both Howard and Yale.) He helped establish the Peace Corps and was President Kennedy’s Special Assistant for race relations. In the Senate in the 1990s, he championed universal health care and later worked with several nonprofit organizations on national service and volunteering. In Philadelphia, he introduced then-Sen. Barack Obama before his 2008 “A More Perfect Union” speech on race.  (I heard this speech on my car radio.  Had to pull over since tears were blinding me.)

“Did I ever consider myself gay? No. It’s what I think should not be asked of people,” he says. An Old World-style romantic, he discusses the relationship in terms of love rather than sexuality.

“I think this is an example of the most private matter. Most of us are intrigued with the sexuality of friends or others. Perhaps with some close friends you want to talk about this,” he says. “When people want to talk about their sexuality, either go to confession or be happy about it. I don’t measure myself or my friends by their sexuality.”

There was no need to get married, to make an honest man of them both, but June’s Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges moved the couple to make their union legal. Wofford is particularly taken with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s majority decision and Obama’s reference to the “dignity” of marriage.

“For a long time, I didn’t think it would be politically possible. And I was wrong,” he says. “And it was wrong that I was wrong.”


A few months ago, in the living room where they are to be wed, Wofford asked Charlton to be his husband.

Charlton was so taken aback that “I asked him to repeat what he had asked, and I said yes, absolutely,” he says.

“We will find out how long I’m around and how it strengthens our great relationship,” says Wofford. “I’m very lucky to have the privilege of having had two great loves in one life.”

For the second and final time, he is thrilled to be a groom.

 Here's the WashPo article:  


And then there’s this from Wofford’s New York Times essay published the other day:

“At age 70, I did not imagine that I would fall in love again and remarry. But the past 20 years have made my life a story of two great loves.

On Jan. 3, 1996, the telephone rang just before midnight, interrupting the silence of the hospital room. From the bedside of my wife, Clare, I lifted the receiver. “Please hold for the president.” Bill Clinton had heard that Clare, struck by acute leukemia, was fading. She listened and smiled but was too weak to speak.

Some hours later, I held her hands in mine as she died. During 48 years of marriage, we had spent a lifetime together.

Twice in my life, I’ve felt the pull of such passionate preference. At age 90, I am lucky to be in an era where the Supreme Court has strengthened what President Obama calls “the dignity of marriage” by recognizing that matrimony is not based on anyone’s sexual nature, choices or dreams. It is based on love.

All this is on my mind as Matthew and I prepare for our marriage ceremony. On April 30, at ages 90 and 40, we will join hands, vowing to be bound together: to have and to hold, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part.”

HERE'S WOFFORD'S NYT ESSAY:


I mean don’t you just love it?  I certainly do.  And I have to admit to some major joy here picturing all those Right Wing Tea Bagger heads exploding in righteous outrage over the Harris Wofford and Matthew Charlton love story.  Hey, I'm not perfect.  

But every once in a while something happens which only proves that old timey Christian values, you know, like "do onto others as you would have them do unto you" and "judge not lest you be judged," are still alive and well among some of us.  And yes, love really is the answer. 

Take Care.  Oh, and don’t forget, as this story so beautifully illustrates, it’s never to late for love.    




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