Forgive me for my brief hiatus. It actually seems like an eternity. I did not have much of a possibility for holiday this summer what with getting my five-year old son off to his first year of school (kindergarten), so this was my time to take a few days off. Tad, I want to applaud you for your recent work on the blog (I noticed your Aussie boys are getting a lot of attention!) and I want to take this moment and thank our readers for continually tuning in. Just fabulous, Darlings!! We’re blowing up!! I want to, on a more subdued note, give you my condolences and the rest of our community as well for the recent mishap in the Senate. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was not repealed and this is a sad note for us all, as a nation. And it brings me to another battle we face I want to talk about: so-called gay marriage.
I want to speak about marriage and gay marriage in particular because I think my views on this issue are not part of our current dialogue on the issue and I think they should be. Gay people want the right to marry, but I am beginning to question some of the reasoning and assumptions behind marriage. I am wondering if we wish to emulate what marriage currently is, or rather, move into a new paradigm of what marriage should look or be like. If giving homosexuals the right to marry strengthened the institution of marriage then it would be easy to support the idea of “gay” marriage. But in my opinion, gay marriage only perpetuates a flawed institution.
A civil union is a legally recognized union similar to marriage. Beginning with Denmark in 1989, civil unions under one name or another have been established by law in many developed countries in order to provide same-sex couples with rights, benefits, and responsibilities similar to opposite-sex civil marriage.
Gays should encourage civil union legislation. Why? It could be argued that marriage is an elitist institution. It is an institution that survives (to) the exclusion of certain people. In American society today, marriage rights are granted to certain individuals and not to others. This in itself creates conflict. Heterosexual marriage is posited as the good or moral alternative to anything else and gay marriage is seen as an abomination on several levels by more than 50% of Americans.
Coupling is the norm for most people. If a person is not coupling, he or she is seen as a dissident or a non-conformer. Just as heterosexuality is the norm and is in no need of explanation, people are expected to couple up and marry, because this is one of the oldest and most socially accepted practices in our Western industrialized civilization.
One is either for marriage or against it; either capable of ‘participating’ in marriage like normal citizens, or not capable (in which case there must be something psychologically or emotionally flawed about such a person). Married people never have to explain why they are married, but single people seem to be pressured by those around them about why they are not “coupled.” Indeed this must cause many single people who desperately want to be married a great deal of embarrassment and consternation. What these attitudes do to single gay people is another matter, but we can safely assume that the psychological damage is worse as these people already feel inferior and marginalized. Marriage perpetuates the idea that there is a “soul mate” and that there must be something wrong with a person if he or she does not have this set-up or even want it.
The idea of romantic marriage is a very 20th century one. In previous centuries, men and women got married for financial or political reasons, not for romantic love. Romantic love was a side-note, a distraction to the reality of property rights, social ambition, and security. More than likely in the 16th century people married for financial or political security, whether this be the king or the vassal in the field. Most people entered into some kind of arranged scenario for expediency, not because they were in love. Today, if a person were to marry for money, this would be seen as scandalous. Marriage today is romantic. People who don’t marry for love are seen as problematic. If a person married for reasons other than romantic love, the marriage contract would become invalidated and the institution marginalized.
Heterosexual marriage discriminates against straight people as well. Straight, unmarried couples are also not entitled to the benefits of marriage, according to our very puritan society; only persons who are “fortunate” enough to enter into this contract are allowed these special rights. The institution grants rights to heterosexual couples such as tax cuts, hospital visits, inheritance rights, but only if two people are legally bonded in hopefully “holy” matrimony. Whether it be straight, single people (unworthy because they refuse or haven’t been capable enough of finding themselves true love) or gay people who are seen as simply immoral, the marriage institution succeeds in rendering these two groups as abnormal and unworthy. Heterosexual marriage is not to be questioned. It is the foundation of most societies. Further, people who don’t subscribe to marriage values are considered the “other” and eccentric.
Why after all of the discussion here would gay people want to partake in an institution that is unfair, elitist, and emotionally damaging, because of its lofty ideals and exclusiveness? Gay marriage should not exist based on a heterosexual model. By getting rid of the “marriage system”, the playing field is evened out. How one should exist as a couple or a single person would no longer need to be defined or measured by “marriage.” No sexual identity should be normative and therefore no group of people should be seen as normative and have any more special rights than any other group. Marriage rights are denied to all people who cannot or wish to not engage in the institution of marriage. Moreover, single people of any sexual stripe should not be seen as damaged or lacking somehow if they are not married. Gay people should not be encouraged to participate in an unfair system. If gays and lesbians want true equality, they should work to dismantle the institution of marriage and never should they encourage gay marriage. They should encourage other ideas such as civil unions and move away from wanting to reproduce traditional heterosexual marriage.