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Oh look, the world hasn't ended - Elizabeth Unexplained
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Oh look, the world hasn't ended
Gay marriage has been legal in Massachusetts for a year now. Coincidentally, my 5th wedding anniversary is this Saturday. A year ago there was much squawking by opponents of gay marriage about how letting non-heteros marry would be a disaster for traditional marriage. Well, last I checked I was still happily married to my husband.

I never have understood what people have against gay folks. I just don't get it. Why should we care? I mean if you're not interested in having a relationship with the person in question you really have no reason to be concerned about whether they prefer males or females. If you are interested and it turns out that you're not their type, that should be the end of it. I know some people have religious objections, but if you think its wrong for religious reasons you don't get to impose that on other people given that we don't have a state religion. (Of course some people are in denial about the whole no-state-religion thing, but that's another can of worms.)

I find the opposition to gay marriage terribly ironic. When I was in my early teens a friend of my father said something negative about gay men. I wanted to know why he thought that gays were bad, because I was actually pretty surprised by the view. He came up with a few steroetypes, but his major complaint was that gays were promiscuous. (Said man later had an extramarital affair that involved getting his girlfriend pregnant and ended in a divorse from his wife. Pot, meet kettle.) The complaint about gay men sleeping around did seem to be the major complaint of others too, at least the one that got air time. Now, when same sex couples want to make a long term legal commitment to a partner these same people are complaining. I'm just not following the logic here.

Now, a year after it became legal in this state the sky has completely failed to fall as far as I can see. I'm still married, my married friends are all still married, and other hetero couples have become married in the past year. I'm totally failing to see how letting two men or two women who love each other get legally married has harmed "traditional" marriage.


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harrock From: harrock Date: May 17th, 2005 09:06 am (UTC) (Link)

World still here

I have a great rant in me, some day, about how people who think that the institution of marriage is in danger might be right, but that instead of using gays as their scapegoat, they ought to be welcoming the reinforcements with open arms. Sadly, the rant isn't quite there yet, because unlike most of my rants, I harbor hopes that it might convince somebody, somewhere, to change his mind.

mijven From: mijven Date: May 17th, 2005 10:14 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: World still here

You sure you haven't written it yet? Cause I'm fairly sure I've read it.... Something along the lines of: "we should accept all reinforcements for committed and stable relationships, because it's prevalence in society at large is shrinking."
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: May 17th, 2005 10:45 am (UTC) (Link)
I think there are two things that cause this belief:

1) People who think that "marriage" is intrinsically a religious word. I run into this even in otherwise reasonable people, who will suggest as compromises "make 'marriage' the word for the church service part, and make the legal changes a different word. As someone who had no real religion in my marriage, I find myself arguing this one more often than I like. (And I think Mitt Romney finally Gets It (even if he doesn't agree) with his St. Patrick's Day comment about "my religion, which says that marriage is between a man and a woman... and a woman... and a woman...")

2) People who think that homosexuality is ICKY NASTY BAD and don't want to be included in any of the same nouns. That's where the "destroying the institution of marriage" part comes from. It's, I think, the same intrisic revulsion that I feel when I read news articles about cult leaders taking pre-teen girls as "wives". "That's icky, don't do that, and don't call it marriage either." Arguing against this is harder, because most people don't come out and say "I think it's icky".
remcat From: remcat Date: May 17th, 2005 11:44 am (UTC) (Link)
Couldn't you solve some of #2 by using a new noun (#1)?

Although I have to say, I find a LOT of other people's marriages/relationships "icky" and do not wish to emulate them, yet I am not finding my own marriage harmed by noun contagion.

Oh, and congrats to Elizabeth on 5 years! I am in a bit of denial that it will be 6 years for us this summer. Wow! Of course, my in-laws are hitting their 40-year anniversary this summer. Way to buck the trend, MIL and FIL!

It's been said about 100 bazillion times, but I would say "marriage as an institution" has been "harmed" by the well-publicized and disastrous celebrity marriages than by gay people getting legally married.
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: May 17th, 2005 11:57 am (UTC) (Link)
You might placate the people in #2 by using a new noun. But I don't want to relinquish control of the word to the people I disagree with - I don't want to be classed as NewWordNotMarried instead of Married because I wasn't married in a religious service, or because I don't want kids (both of which I've seen argued are the point of marriage). And the people marrying people of the same sex don't want to be Fakemarried either. Because the word is important, because it does have a place in our culture, and that place is what all the people who want to be Married want to occupy.

(No doubt the same reason that the people with religious qualms about gay marriage don't want to move on to a new word either).
greyautumnrain From: greyautumnrain Date: May 17th, 2005 12:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
I also have my qualms about relinquishing the noun.

I was married in a religious ceremony. The thing is, the anti-gay-marriage people generally also object to my religion. Then there's the fact that most modern pagan varients recognize same-sex marriage and have for a long time.

Also, when you talk about making a distiction between those with kids and the child-free I get nervous as to what kind of limbo that puts me in until I manage to reproduce. Given the less happy one year anniversary closing in on me (the one where I get classified as infertile), I'm really not happy with that option.
desireearmfeldt From: desireearmfeldt Date: May 17th, 2005 01:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Listening to something 'bout this on the radio this morning (I don't even remember what the something was at the moment), I thought of a scene in a goofy (gay) romantic novel I read this year. Paraphrased:

Kid: Everyone now thinks the people who wouldn't let Rosa Parks sit on the bus are skanks, right? So how come the people who don't want you and [your same sex lover] to get married don't realize that in a hundred years, everyone's going to realize that those were skanks?

Ignore the word "skank," that's not actually the bit I'm focusing on. :) But consider that once the step forward is taken, it's harder to step back, and eventually, people's mindsets change to incorporate the new of-course-that's-how-things-are. There's still racism in America, yes; but slavery and Jim Crow laws have stayed abolished and the norm is that those are unreasonable things to have. There's still gender inequity and stereotyping, but the assumption is that a woman can and should do any job a man can (even if that "should" doesn't actually match practical reality).

So here's to moving forward. There's been some forward motion already--it's not universal, but the love dares to speak its name in a more widespread public fashion than it used to, and I don't think that's really reversable. I'm not saying it's going to happen without a lot of fighting, but I do think we'll be looking back on this in a generation or two the way our parents look back at the movements of the 60s: the work isn't complete, but boy, look how much better off we are. And how the new generation only knows about anti-gay-marriage laws as a story their parents tell.

(Yes, OK, I grew up in Boston, my mother teaches womens' studies, I know mileage varies. I still think there's cause for hope. :) )
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