Hand in glove…
Anyway. Gay marriage. Some might wonder why a woman in a monogamous heterosexual marriage even cares that much about the right of women to marry other women and men to marry other men. After all, I can do what I want to do, clearly.
But, of course, nothing ever is, nor should it be that simple. First off, marriage – I never thought I would get married. Well, yes, when I was little I’m sure I did, but I don’t really remember having the stereotypical little-girl-fluffy-white-dress sort of fantasies that supposedly all little wannabe princesses have as wee bairns. From a pretty early age I figured I would be the happy old maiden aunt who could be really awesomely cool with my step-siblings kids and then could go off to my fantastic artsy loft apartment with my fantastic artsy friends. I was about 15 I think when women started appearing in the relationship part of those fantasies with almost the same regularity as men. So, wonderful marriage to a man aside, I also know that but for the chance of meeting him before I met a wonderful woman, I could be directly affected.
But I still partake of and engage in and have oodles of heterosexual privilege, regardless of which onscreen personalities make me short of breath and there is something that smacks of simple platitudes for someone so publicly heterosexual to try to empathize with the situation of couples who have wanted what I have for decades.
Which brings me to another thought, which is about the term “marriage” itself. Now there is a train of thought – which I’ve flirted with from time to time myself – which is the idea of “why not just civil unions?” And in theory, I could support the idea of marriage as a solely religious term and civil union as the term for what we now think of as a civil marriage ceremony but for the fact is that words have power and meaning beyond what the dictionary definition might be.
“Marriage” as a concept in U.S. culture is loaded with social meaning that transcends the religious meaning for many people. I understand that the religious aspect of being “joined before god” is very important to many religions and that the concept of mated partnership is a vital part of many world religions. And while the concept of marriage may have begun as a religious ceremony (something which I doubt, personally, but I don’t have enough background in ancient cultures to really know for sure), as soon as it became something recognized and enforced by the state, it ceased to be something purely religious.
The importance of my marriage – of being joined to my husband as family, with all of the legal and social recognitions – is not remotely lessened to me because the ceremony was performed by a justice of the peace in a secular castle. My commitment to my husband of 11 years is not less because we do not believe that we were joined by “god”.
I’m completely fine with marriage meaning different things to different people – and goodness knows, I completely understand why some people do not want to be married/otherwise-legally-unioned because of what the term means to them. But I don’t want to cede the term “marriage” to bigots.
I remember a rousing debate engagement twelve years ago when we announced our engagement in an on line community that my husband and I frequented at the time in which someone I had considered something of a good friend had an extraordinarily difficult time understanding why I would want to enter into a legally binding socially endorsed relationship like a marriage, particularly at my then relatively tender age.
It’s because marriage has meaning. A marriage becomes something larger than just the individuals involved. And there is absolutely no justification I can think of for why any adult who wants to should not be able to marry any other adult who wishes to enter into that relationship.
I can think of a multitude of legal reasons why not acknowledging same sex marriages is a violation of the U.S. Constitution – starting with the Equal Protection and Full Faith and Credit clauses. But really, what it comes down to is basic human rights – the right of people to love whomever they love and to freely enter into whatever relationships meet their needs.