Friday, July 09, 2004

On gay marriage

Okay, so maybe we’re going a little bit crazy with this whole “war” thing. First there was a war on drugs, and then a war on poverty (or was poverty first?). The big news lately has been, of course, Bush’s War on Terra. But it looks like Dubya’s going to have to take a back seat for a while, because the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Shaunti Feldhahn wants us to wage war on gay marriage:
[A]lthough you can't see the battle to protect marriage as you can a military war, its cultural ramifications may be just as radical. In his new book, "Marriage Under Fire," James Dobson notes that, "This struggle is not being fought with guns and bombs, but with ideas, with creative uses of the law ... It is a battle for the very soul of the nation."
Shaunti, in her infinite wisdom, warns us that we must learn our lesson from pre-World War II Europe. See, when they saw Hitler coming up, they were all, like, “it’s none of my business.” And you saw what happened to them. We must nip the scourge of homosexual marriage in the bud – the alternative, apparently, is genocide.

As we speak, evil activist judges are trying to “rewrit[e] the will of the people” to the end of – gasp! – equal rights for all. Gay couples everywhere could soon be joining in committed, monogamous unions, setting up households in which innocent children might be raised in an environment of open affection and coordinating chintzes.

Congress is currently discussing legislation to help save American society from the evil gays. Apparently, the world will be a better place if, in the interest of traditional heterosexual marriage, we can deprive gays of domestic partner benefits, rights of survivorship, and pretty ceremonies with big tall white cakes with two tuxedoed guys on top.

From what I can tell, objections to gay marriage take three forms: the protecting-traditional-marriage argument, the how’s-about-civil-union argument, and the what-about-the-children argument.

We must protect traditional marriage: Well, okay, then, do that. You can start with Elizabeth Taylor and Jennifer Lopez; they’ve had, like, eleven traditional marriages between them, so they’re probably experts by now. Then you can talk to Britney Spears, who has the dual indignities of a 55-hour Vegas marriage (just for poops and grins) and an engagement to a guy who just knocked up his ex-girlfriend for the second time. It could all be worse, though; they could be – clutch the pearls! – gay.

How’s about, in the interest of preventing broken homes, looking at divorce instead of marriage? These days, an uncontested divorce is as easy (and almost as cheap) to get as a food processor. Far be it from me to insist that a woman stay with her abusive husband simply to maintain the union. But if you’re ready to break up your family because you’re bored, or because you just know you’ve met your soulmate, or because this whole marriage thing is, like, hard – you’re a selfish, selfish bitch/bastard and don’t deserve an easy divorce.

Or even better, how’s about looking at the marriage before it gets all permanent? The Catholic church requires three months of counseling before the marriage can take place; I think it’s a splendid idea. You want a threat to marriage, try two folks who met three weeks ago in their creative writing class and think that their shared love of modernist poetry is a sign from above. Try two teenagers who have no idea what they’re looking for in a life partner but are, like, totally in love. Hell, try two adults who disagree on everything from money management to child rearing to decorating color schemes but figure that when they’re hungry, love will keep them alive. Honestly, who’s more likely to put together a lasting relationship, two compatible gay men or a man and a woman who met in a bar and have never actually seen each other in daylight yet?

Well, what about, like, civil unions and stuff: Here’s my thing about marriage: every marriage is a civil union. Shut up, it is. See, every marriage has a government part and a church part. A couple can get married in a church, and God smiles on their union, but if they don’t have a marriage license issued by the state, the government isn’t going to smile on their joint tax return. And the state doesn’t mind if you get married by a justice of the peace – but many churches won’t recognize the marriage unless you have it done by a cleric.

That being the case, whose business is it to tell gays they can’t get married? Civil unions are only fair; that’s completely nonreligious, just a matter of two committed individuals sharing insurance policies and being recognized as next of kin. If a gay couple can’t find a church to perform the religious part of their wedding, that sucks; if they can, what’s it to you?

What about the poor children: First of all, see above re: Britney as responsible stepmom. When you’re done shuddering at the thought, ask yourself if a child raised by an abusive straight couple is any better off than a child raised by a nurturing gay couple. Rejecting outright the characterization of all gays as pedophiles, why would a gay couple be inherently bad at raising kids? Would a gay couple not actually be more likely to raise a child who is open-minded and accepting, who isn’t limited by traditional gender roles, who (not to embrace an absolute stereotype) is clean and clean-cut and well-dressed to boot? Most women dream of a guy who can cook, clean, pick out a bottle of wine, buy thoughtful gifts, give compliments and dress himself; in Midtown Atlanta, those guys travel in packs.

Shaunti, you can have your war on gay marriages. I understand if homosexuality makes you a little squeamish. But if your marriage is endangered by a couple of guys getting married and having a family, maybe you’re the one who needs to be examining your relationship. As for me, I’m going to be at Mike and Troy’s wedding with bells on, ‘cause honey, the cake will be to-die-for and I know there’ll be someone willing to dance.

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