When I was sixteen, I knew for certain that I would never get married. I had just broken up with my boyfriend of two years, I was playing music, I was getting good grades, and, in my mind, I was on my way to becoming a very successful career woman. I couldn’t be bothered with marriage. I guess I hadn’t really seen any successful marriages when I was growing up, and, I was losing interest in guys. Two years later, when I came out of the closet, I reconfirmed this. I knew I would never be with a man, so, duh, I would never be married. Very simple.
I believe in long-term, monogamous relationships. In fact, that is the only thing I am interested in. I want the family, the home, the life—I just don’t want to be married to get it. Marriage is crumbling as we speak. The ugly truth about marriage has been obfuscated in the rhetoric of THE DESTRUCTION OF THE AMERICAN FAMILY. Oh, please. The American family is not being destroyed because some gay people are crazy enough to want to get married; it’s being destroyed because marriage kinda doesn’t work anymore (for the most part—I know there are exceptions, people).
Let’s face it, in the 1950s, people weren’t happier in marriage, they just didn’t complain about it. Divorce has long been taboo because of religion or social status, but those restrictions have been waning over the last fifty years—even Catholics get divorced now. People get divorced and remarried all the time without fearing loss of reputation or rights. Back then, there wasn’t divorce because people didn’t speak up about their misery. Now, they can, and they do. The destruction of the American family? For real—it never was all that great in the first place.
I don’t like talking about gay marriage. I can’t for the life of me figure out why gay people would want to participate in that mess. I don’t want some piece of paper binding me to the debt of my partner. I don’t want to change my name. I don’t want to have to go through the legal system to get my Indigo Girls’ CDs back if I break up with someone. I don’t want the government involved in my relationship at all—I can screw it up just fine on my own.
So why do so many gay people want to come onboard?
The answer is simple—it’s not cool to tell people they can’t come onboard.
Our history is fraught with discrimination. For decades it was “You can’t sit there,” “You can’t eat there,” “You can’t own this,” and basically—if you are [insert certain race, class, sex here], you can’t do this, period. Thank God we have moved past a lot of that, but unfortunately, discrimination is as strong in our country as our first amendment rights. Sure, things are “better,” but the plight of gay people has not come as far as you might think.
Did you know that federal hate crime laws don’t include gay people? Did you know that if a gay man’s lover dies, the family of the deceased has all the legal rights to his estate, even if his family had disowned him? Did you know that the family can prevent a woman from seeing her lover of ten years in the hospital? Did you know that being gay is still a crime punishable by DEATH in many countries? Gay people do not have equal parenting rights. They are denied housing and have no legal recourse because they aren’t protected. The list goes on and on.
Check this out: in any marriage, a husband can leave his wife a billion dollars in his will, and vice versa, without paying an estate tax. But if I wanted to leave my estate to my partner, she will have to pay a 50 percent estate tax—50 percent! The law states that unless partners have a legal union, the estate tax applies. So not fair.
Marriage automatically guarantees many of the things described above. Securing gay marriage secures equality, and so, understandably, many gay people want it. Who doesn’t want to be treated equally?
The argument on the other side is that the definition of marriage is between a man and a woman. So what? Words change just like everything else in this world, and some words have multiple and, many times, opposite meanings. That argument is weak and doesn’t convince me (and remember, I don’t even want to get married). Webster’s has included “D’oh,” in the dictionary now, and that’s from a cartoon character. “Google” is a freaking verb now! “Bad” can actually mean good. I can screw all night (a good thing) or be screwed by estate taxes (a bad thing). The other day, a teenager told me my necklace was “sick,” and I am pretty sure he liked it. But somehow the word marriage is immune from opening up its ranks a bit? No, sorry—not buying it.
So, they offer up civil unions, which is basically saying—Yes, we hear you want rights and all that good stuff, but since you are not a MAN AND A WOMAN, you are DIFFERENT, so you can have the same thing, but we’ll just call it something else. Okay, maybe we throw better parties, but I can’t think of anything that is really truly and fundamentally different between straights and gays.
If you are a straight woman, you are attracted to men, and so are gay men. Hmmmm, exactly how is that different? You both like confidence in a guy. You both want a guy with a job. You both like muscles. You both hate it when he doesn’t call. In fact, if you are a straight woman and you have never talked to a gay man, please go out and find one right now. You will be blown away by how much you have in common. He will understand you, he will go shopping with you, he will tell you that those pants do not make you look fat, and he will fix your hair for you. What bonds you together? Your love for men (and good shoes). How is that different?
Gay women, like straight guys, complain about not understanding women. They drive us crazy. We can’t figure them out, but we love them just the same. We love being made to feel as if we are the only person in the world, and only a woman can make you feel that way. We love to live in t-shirts and jeans. Only a gay gal and a straight guy can make a persuasive argument as to why the Celtics were better or worse than the Lakers in the mid ’80s. Who do you ask to lift heavy things or to fix a flat—yep, a gay woman or a straight guy.
Obviously, I am not buying the difference thing either.
Here is the bottom line. Why do people get married? And no, it’s not 1610 anymore, so you don’t get married to preserve bloodlines and get a couple of goats. We get married because of love, people. Why in the world would it matter who the object of that love is? Straight couples are not more in love than gay couples are, and the reverse isn’t true either. Love is love and love is often why people get married.
So you won’t see me in the front of the parade waving a gay marriage flag, in fact, I hate parades, but I can and will fight for something that is righteous, even if I don’t want it for myself. It has and always will be wrong to deny people anything on the basis of being different. I don’t care how you spin it. Take that civil union crap and … well, you know what I mean. Separate but equal never worked. There is no difference between the love that any two people feel for each other, so the ultimate expression of that love shouldn’t have different words. It’s marriage or … there is no “or.” It’s marriage for all or for none. Love doesn’t care, so why should we?