Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Defining Marriage

I received an e-mail from one of my favorite professional writers, Maggie Gallagher. She is engaged in a debate about gay marriage....a braver woman than me, I must admit. Here are the latest posts: Post 1, Post 2, Post 3, Post 4, and Post 5. She inquired as to whether I might join the debate. I am first to admit, I shy away from this argument. Honestly, I don't think there is one. If you leave religious beliefs out, there is really no argument against gay marriage. Here's why: marriage is no longer about creating a family and having a stable home for children. Marriage is about love. Think about it. If marriage were truly about forming a long-lasting, permanent union between a man and woman in order to ensure a stable home for children, there would be a lot more thought going into who we married, the ceremony, and the divorce laws would be a bit more stringent. As it is now, we are celebrating love, not the establishment of a family. We decide who we marry based on our "love" for someone (butterflies in the stomach and good sex now qualify for love status), plan ridiculously huge and expensive celebrations where little thought is given to the solemnity of the commitment, and in the back of our mind is the truth that....well, if this doesn't work, I'm not stuck here for life. Be honest - when was the last time that you sat through a wedding, and thought....I hope it lasts. We don't want to think it, but it is impossible not to. Divorce is part of our society, a part of our customs. Once we leave the giggling stage of newlywed bliss, and the reality hits, revealing that this human being who we thought was just like ourselves, is really not just like ourselves, but rather a unique individual unto themselves....suddenly, "love" takes a backseat. So to view marriage as a solid basis for procreation - on one hand that is true. But to say that the reason for marriage is procreation....societal norms to not hold with that. We don't view marriage that way anymore. "I love this person, I want to be with the person for the rest of my life." We no longer base the reasons for marriage on procreation and stable families - we base it on emotions and feelings. We don't stop and think - when we have children, the romance is over, the sex is on hold, finances are not perfect, and crisis occurs, how is this person going to stand by me? How am I going to stand by this person? My point - I daresay I'm digressing a bit - is that you can no longer define marriage by a supposed legal definition that no longer reflects our customs, and think that people are going to stand by and let it go. Not when it holds monetary benefits and significant status to change the law. And as for the morality of gays marrying - I really don't care. I cannot sit here and moralize about a "holy union" of which heterosexuals have made a mockery. On the religious front, gay marriage will never find comfort. So if I were gay, I would want my own tradition, unsullied by others, with which to explore permanent unions recognized by law. Why try to fix an already ruined toy?