First, a quick update: it has been just over four years since Massachusetts began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The state has not been reduced to a smoldering crater by a lightning bolt from the heavens, consumed by fire, sheered off the Eastern seaboard by an earthquake and left to slide into the ocean, or swallowed up by a yawning chasm. We are not considering new laws that would allow people to marry multiple spouses, parents, siblings, animals, machines, incredibly life-like statues, or their favorite menu items at Wendy’s.
In short, we have not been smote by a vengeful God, and we have not plunged headlong into a state of moral turpitude that makes Sodom and Gomorrah look like Branson, Missouri. In the immortal words of Buckwheat: everyt’ing be o-tay (and what isn’t o-tay cannot be pinned on homosexuals…unless there’s a secret gay OPEC cabal I’m not aware of).
You’d have thought same-sex marriage foes in California and New York would have learned from us, taken the hint they may be wasting their time in resisting the inevitable, but no. They’re getting all fired up for a fight against California’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage, and New York’s decision to honor same-sex unions that occurred in states where marriages and civil unions are cool.
Once again the main premise of their argument is that allowing same-sex couples to get hitched is going to screw up things up for the straighties, that letting gay couples take the long walk down the aisle will somehow undermine “the institution of marriage.”
Would someone kindly inform these people that the heterosexuals are doing a fine job of this without any “help” from the so-called gay agenda?
Actually, the institution of marriage isn’t looking half-bad. Forget that grossly inaccurate cliché that half of all marriages end in divorce. Here’re the facts, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, which reported a divorce rate of 3.6 divorces per 1,000 people as of 2005, the last year for which statistics were available. This is the lowest it’s been since 1970, although the number of marriages in 2005 was down from previous years.
PS: Massachusetts had the second lowest divorce rate in the nation that year.
This is not to say our state’s low divorce rate is because we allow same-sex marriage. There is no proof of that…just as there is no proof that letting gay couples wed is undermining marriage as a whole. So there, nyah.
(By the way: the highest divorce rates are in Nevada, Arkansas, Wyoming, West Virginia, and Idaho. All Red States that have conservative “family values” in a deathgrip bearhug and generally frown heavily upon same-sex unions. Just wanted to point that out.)
If same-sex marriage foes truly want to improve things for their precious institution, let me make the following recommendations:
1) Do away with laws permitting marriage between first cousins
What, you think I’m kidding? I know, the concept of cousins marrying is usually grist for off-color humor aimed at the Redneck States, but guess what? More than half of all states allow it.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 20 states without a high per-capita rate of banjo players allow first cousins to wed, including Alaska, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Five other states, including Arizona and Wisconsin, allow it if one or both parties are elderly and/or unable to reproduce, because of course that would just make the whole thing icky. Maine allows it with – I am so not kidding about this – a “physician’s certificate of genetic counseling.”
By the way: 13 of the 26 states that allow first cousin marriage (outright or provisionally) are Red States. Just wanted to mention that too.
If the gay marriage foes want to strengthen the institution of marriage by blocking those who would enter into a questionable union, then maybe they should start here. If they can’t be bothered to take a stand against state-sanctioned in-breeding, then they lose the right to go after homosexuals.
I’d be happy to entertain arguments that it’s better for the institution of marriage and society as a whole to produce a family of mutants than nothing at all. It would amuse me.
On that note…
2) Accept that marriage is not all about baby-making
Why is marriage so vital to our society? Listen to the same-sex marriage foes and they’ll tell you it’s because gay couples cannot establish “true” families, which are the cornerstone of a healthy society.
Aside from the fact that this sort of myopic thinking ignores that gay couples, while incapable of reproducing in the conventional manner, have many options for having and raising children, this generalization also slaps the face of every married couple who cannot (or chooses not to) have children. Reproducing is a major life change that not every couple wants to dare (said the author, raising his hand high), and there is nothing wrong with that. The world might be better off if people were a bit more selective in their breeding habits.
There are more important aspects of a healthy society than breeding like bunnies (and let’s be honest, it’s not as if Planet Earth is suffering from a severe human deficit). How about mutual respect? Tolerance and understanding? Living with your fellow man in peace and harmony?
You know, the stuff that Jesus guy was so keen on.
You know, the stuff that same-sex marriage opponents really aren’t exercising all that well by treating homosexuals like second-class citizens.
3) Discourage the notion that the marriage is the commitment
It’s perhaps the most durable marriage-related cliché, this idea that until the guy – and it is always the guy at fault for dragging his feet – puts a ring on his woman’s finger, he’s not serious about the relationship.
One must wonder how many couples have bought into this myth and, to alleviate pointless pressure put on them by society, pushy friends, pushier parents, each other, took the plunge when it truly wasn’t right for them. I believe many couples get married because it’s what is “expected” of them, not because they believe it’s truly the right next step for their relationship. They do it because it’s “proof” to all around them, each other, perhaps even themselves that they’re in it for the long haul.
If a couple’s commitment to one another does not precede the marriage, getting married won’t change that. We need to stop regarding marriage as the act of formally entering a committed relationship and start treating it as a celebration of the dedication that is already there.
4) Stop treating marriage as a disposable asset
The term “starter marriage” is one of the vilest phrases to ever enter our lexicon, because it reflects a deeply tragic and superficial attitude toward marriage many younger people have nowadays.
A starter marriage is generally defined as a first marriage, typically between a couple in their late teens or early twenties, that lasts less than five years. The phrase was popularized in Pamela Paul’s The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony, an examination of historical American marriage trends (based, critics claim, on inaccurate and shallow data).
Paul identified the starter marriage phenomenon as the result of college-age people getting married for the “wrong reasons,” such as to simply get the hell out of mom and dad’s place; their infatuation with the glossy façade of marriage (and accompanying blissful ignorance of the effort it takes to maintain a marriage); and in the case of long-time high school sweethearts – wait for it! – buckling to pressure that getting married is what long-term couples are “supposed” to do.
The author believed that in the case of these doomed-to-fail marriages, divorce was preferable, desirable, even necessary; far better for the couple to cut their losses and bail early, before they make things even worse by bringing children into the mix.
While there is some hard truth to this theory, it could be argued that young (and not-so-young) couples have misinterpreted the message; divorce has become a viable relationship option for them, not a last resort. Things not working out? Eh, get a divorce…you’re young, you’ll rebound, and next time you’ll know better.
Marriage is not always something you get right the first time, but it shouldn’t be something you have to practice.
5) Forever ban “My Heart Will Go On” at receptions
It’s the “Take My Breath Away” of the 21st century. It must be stopped.
Tags: same-sex marriage
The views and opinions in the Enterprise blogs are those of the author and are not neccessarily shared by Falmouth Publishing.