Thursday, October 27, 2005

Marriage Issues

Courtesy of Maggie Gallagher....
IS MARRIAGE DOING FINE? ACADEMIC PROMISES, HIP-HOP REALITIES I'm holding in my hand an amicus brief filed in the New Jersey same-sex marriage litigation. With their distinguished academic pedigrees, a group of highly credentialed scholars want to send a message on gay marriage to the New Jersey Supreme Court: Don't worry, no matter what you do to it, marriage will always do just fine: "The ongoing evolution of marriage throughout New Jersey's history renders implausible the suggestion that marriage, which has survived so many changes, is too frail to endure the revision" of what these scholars refer to as "the anachronistic different-sex eligibility rule." Implausible? Who are they kidding? Sure, after 40 years of social experiments on marriage in the name of sexual liberty, Princeton professors are doing just fine, thank you very much. But to find out whether marriage is doing just fine, the New Jersey judges might learn more listening to Kanye West. His latest hit, "Golddigger," is the quintessential postmodern love story told from the male side, full of fantastic need and longing, punctuated by the grim reality of sexual betrayal and gender mistrust: "If you f---in with this girl then you better be paid/You know why/It take too much to touch her/From what I heard she got a baby by Busta/My best friend say she use to f--k wit Usher/I don't care what none of y'all say I still love her." On the other hand, "... If you ain't no punk holla, 'We Want Prenup'/WE WANT PRENUP! Yeaah!" As Kanye matter-of-factly points out, "It's something that you need to have/Cause when she leave yo a--, she gonna leave with half." Not "if" she leaves you, but when. Men and women have to protect themselves from each other, from the foolishness of their own desire to love. Moral ideals like sexual fidelity to a good man, or a good father who is not rich, are just ridiculous: "He got that ambition baby look in his eyes/This week he moppin' floorz, next week it's the fries." Kanye gives her the straight dope: "But you stay right girl/But when you get on he leave yo a-- for a white girl." Faith, hope, trust, love are dreams. The reality is sexual barter. Men and women need each other but are destined to betray each other in pursuit of the satisfaction of that need. Children are innocent bystanders in this perpetual erotic warfare. Marriage is civilization's great attempt to integrate opposites: male and female, mothers and fathers, parents and children, love and sex, heart and pocketbook, masculinity and dependency, eros and the vow. When a marriage culture fails, sexual desire no longer unites; instead it fragments. Kanye West offers us a personal portrait of what happens when the fragging is done: Gender doesn't disappear, but the one institution -- marriage -- that bridges the gender divide largely has. This is not a racial issue, it is a human one. So call me dubious: Right smack in the middle of this unprecedented marriage crisis, what should courts do to marriage, according to these distinguished scholars? Why, gut it of the presumption that marriage has something to do with joining the man and the woman who make the baby. Why? In order to affirm "its core purpose of recognizing committed, interdependent partnerships between consenting adults." These scholars do not seem to recognize the carnage this very idea -- that marriage is infinitely adaptable and primarily about adults' needs -- has unleashed. But I remember how the people who tried to protest this last round of social experiments on marriage, as it was happening, got called bigots too. Perhaps it is possible that New Jersey judges can eliminate the one feature of marriage that has been universal in human history with the stroke of a pen, and marriage will do just fine. But here's my message to the New Jersey Supreme Court: Don't bet the future of our children on it.