Inevitable Backlash Against Chelsea Clinton Wedding Begins

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Photo: Barbara Kinney via Getty Images

Back when Hillary Clinton made a particularly strange comment about her daughter's Jewish/Methodist wedding in the context of American tolerance, it was hard not to raise an eyebrow. "We recognize the right that every single person has to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," she told NBC's Andrea Mitchell. "Over the years so many of the barriers that prevented people from getting married — crossing lines of faith or color or ethnicity — have just disappeared." Besides the obvious problem with this statement — there is one very notable barrier preventing people from getting married that has not "just disappeared" — it seemed strange that Clinton would find her daughter's interfaith marriage so progressive. Marriage between faiths has never been illegal in the United States, and hasn't it been a while since this has really even been an issue?

This was a naïve question. Apparently, Chelsea's much-publicized marriage posed a problem to a significant group of people. From the Times today:


Some Jews fear that the societal openness confirmed by high-profile intermarriages like that of Ms. Clinton and Mr. Mezvinsky, or Caroline Kennedy and Edwin A. Schlossberg in 1986, prod more Jews to marry out of their faith. That, they worry, could threaten the vitality of a group that represents no more than 2 percent of the American population ... "Everything we know about the commitment and work it takes to pass Jewish tradition on to the next generation shows that the context within which that is most likely to occur is in a household where both parents are committed to Jewish tradition," said Steven C. Wernick, executive vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the congregational arm.

Well, okay, that's a pretty specific complaint, not about interfaith marriage in general. But at least one person has a gripe about the wider implications of this famous union of Chosen and Goy: Marc Mezvinsky's uncle Norton! Norton warned the Daily News that "the Clinton-Mezvinsky wedding extravaganza will almost certainly adversely affect pronouncements by many religious leaders in our society against inter-marriage." Yipes! Somebody's mad they didn't get invited to the ceremony.

And finally, in more light news, the backlash to the wedding has even turned to real estate. Right after the wedding, the New York Post accepted a full-page ad from Kathleen Hammer and her husband Arthur Seelbinder, the owner of Astor Courts (where Chelsea's wedding was famously held). Turns out the Seelbinders are selling the 50-acre Stanford White–designed Rhinebeck estate for $12 million. After taking the couple's money for the ad — which touted the "Home of Recent Celebrity Wedding" — the Post turned around and called Donald Trump to get a quote about how tacky it was to place the ad in the first place. "Over the years, I've seen many tacky things take place in the wonderful world of real estate, but never have I seen anything so bad," the Donald told "Page Six." "It was disgusting, and if I were Bill or Hillary Clinton, I would never speak to their 'good friend,' the owner, again."

Don't worry, Seelbinders: When Donald Trump is telling you that you pulled a tacky real-estate move, and "Page Six" is tut-tutting your exploitation of famous people, you know you're doing something right.

Donald Trump calls Clinton pal 'tacky' [Page Six/NYP]
Clinton-Mezvinsky wedding: Uninvited uncle Norton Mezvinsky speaks out on interfaith marriages [NYDN]
Interfaith Marriages Stir Conflicting Feelings [NYT]