There is no law in any U.S. state that prohibits anyone from getting married because they are gay!!
The institution of marriage, as old as civilization itself, states there there be one each of the two sexes needed for reproduction. Any gay man can marry any gay woman in any state. They are not discriminated against for being gay. What the gay activists want is not the right to marry (which they already have), but the complete restructuring of the intuition itself.
I couldn’t’t care less what anybody does in bed. I also am as disinterested in the impact of a gay rights parade as I would be in a heterosexual rights parade if gays became the majority. I am thoroughly disinterested in where anybody “sticks it” and to whom they stick it to!
What is marriage anyway? It’s origins are tribal, ancient and older than Christianity or Islam. As it is natural for all creatures to pair off, we humans do likewise. At the dawn of awareness of morality, and I am not referring to sexual morality, it became apparent that not all people behave with regard to others.
As male and female paired off, children were born. Sometimes the male partner got tired of the added responsibility and took a hike. This left the woman saddled with children and no means of support. The abandoned wife and children then became the responsibility of the community. Marriage was born of the particular situational need to stabilize the community. The origins of swearing vows of commitment before witnesses are apparent. What benefits one, benefits all.
Though marriage has undergone various twists of purpose over the ages, there have always been efforts to retain the original meaning of the institution. Half of all marriages end in divorce now because of it’s apparent devaluation. I am truly lucky to have grown up in a non-divorce family.
Before the Abrahamic Religions we recognize today, marriages were a largely non-religious community event and enforcement of family obligations was a community responsibility. If a man abandoned his family he risked being banished from his community. In the tough times of the middle ages, this was literally a matter of life and death for all involved.
In Pre-Roman Celtic culture, marriage was called Handfasting, wherein a couple’s wrists were ceremonially bound together, words were spoken, and they jumped over a broomstick. They were then bound for a year and a day. If no children were conceived in that time frame they could walk away with no further obligation. It was about children, half of which never made it to their first birthday.
Marriage was never intended as a license for sex. As pre-marital sex could easily result in unwanted pregnancy back then, it was often avoided for practical reasons alone. Despite practicality, it’s safe to say that the outcomes of many unions had already been established by the time they jumped over the broomstick!
Childbirth was an absolute matter of life and death back then. A small tribe or community could cease to exist if the birth rate dropped. A union between two child-bearing people was heralded as hope for the future of the community.
A blood line resulting from marriage was also a way to determine inheritance of property and royal succession. The Judeo-Christian obsession with virginity has its roots in more practical matters. If the bride was not a virgin how could he be sure the first-born was his? Who’s kid would get his stuff when he died? My question is, after the first born and virginity now out-of-the-way, how could he be sure about the rest? This is the origin of all the importance given the first born in the Bible. Bottom line is, marriage throughout history has not been about whether or not you were “living in sin”. It has always been about creating a family – children being born and raised and who inherits your shit.
The initial, and enduring, purpose of marriage is the ritualizing, and in some cultures creating, of a love bond between two potentially child-bearing humans for the purpose of binding them together long enough to raise the next generation of the community.
The purpose of a wedding ceremony was, and still is, the public acknowledgement (with witnesses) of this union to prevent any future claims by either party (usually the male) that they are not responsible for the welfare of the children of this union.
The historical purpose of a marriage license was a record of legitimacy for claims of bloodline. Property rights for the wife came later in English Common Law. (history)
In a purely logical fashion, without any prejudice or Judeo-Christian morality issues – plus liberal latitude for growth, where does a gay relationship fit into this institution?
Keeping track of births, marriages and deaths is a old as civilization. It is our way of tracking genealogy and the rights of beneficiaries. Here’s the cycle:
- Birth Certificate – a child is born and the marriage certificate of the parents (or lack of) is cited in the birth certificate. It tracks the parents of the child, the parents of the parents, etc, etc.
- Marriage Certificate (License) – It only became a license in medieval Europe when you had to have the local Lord’s permission to marry. Historically it was midway point in the genealogical record of birth, marriage & death.
- Death Certificate – Last stop on the ride. It states that you no longer produce offspring and, if there are birth certificates, there will be claims on your estate. The marriage certificates and birth certificates are needed here to settle up fairly.
Certificates one through three are an endless cycle. You can start anywhere in the cycle and go forward or backwards in time. To be mundane, all three are records of the predictable lives we all lead. As far as marriage license being thought of as license for sex, this is a misconception shared by many heterosexuals as well as gays. In the dark ages sex was denigrated as sinful, even in marriage, except for the purpose of procreation. So, the two being so locked together, it was logical to presume –
- Sex is only for procreation – not recreation
- You can’t have children out of wedlock
- Ergo – you can’t have sex out of wedlock
This prudism lingered on into the Victorian era and right up to the 60’s, where more people lived together unmarried than married. If you marry someone merely for love or lust, they now have legal claim to your property. If you father a child out of wedlock, she still has claim to your property. Either way marriage is, rightly, about the children.
Does anyone really deserve being called “gay basher” or “hater” just because he or she doesn’t agree that two men or two women qualify as a marriageable couple? Many Americans who have already accepted the gay’s “right to be” still rationally dispute their classification as a marriageable couple. Their case is not aided by parodies of other “straight” customs such as the gay débutante ball, Gay Miss America, Gay Olympics – ad infinitum. The first two are gender based. I added the sports for the simple reason – does anyone know of a rule disallowing gays in the Olympics?
Gay Débutante Balls, Gay Miss America and the like could understandably lead many to believe that gay marriage is just one more parody of “the straight world”. I am also quite sure that very few reading this will consider it unbiased, just as surely as I believe no Bible Belt Christian could ever rationally discuss religion with a devout Muslim.
I think for many gay couples it is not just about “playing house” but about real commitment and we should all respect that. Showing respect for traditional marriage would gain them many “points” in the struggle for equality. For many other gay couples the real issue is about receiving the same tax and employee benefits as those that bear the unrelenting responsibility of raising children all the way to adulthood. For others it is a plea for acceptance.
In the case of a plea for acceptance, gay lobbies and attorneys are creating angst where there once was none. To many, especially the religious (I am not), marriage is considered “a sacred institution” and envision using the courts to force “a denigration of it” upon them is a call to arms. This is a tactic that has failed historically in a country born of rebellion against unpopular laws. You cannot legislate public opinion, you can only force a resentful populace to abide with the court’s decision.
I predict that if a major trend of states adopting gay marriages occurs, the religious right will subsequently “arm itself for battle”, take new actions against the gay community and further polarize the nation. In the ensuing frenzy, more moderate people, forced to pick a side by their more motivated peers, will align with the right-wing.
Herein, you have a most ugly alchemy – sex, politics and religion ground together in a crucible, yielding an explosive element that is hard to tame once unleashed. Similar situations have peppered history. It is the kind of stuff this blog is trying to address rationally – if that is even remotely possible.
With effective civil alternatives to conventional marriage available, legal victories allowing what many may rightly perceive as the unraveling of a timeless tradition will only incite populist ire, and that cannot be regulated. We need to look beyond our bias and self interest and analyze the situation for it’s potentially destructive end result, both for the traditionalists and the gays.
Winning the fight will produce a very shallow victory, because it will newly alienate the gay community at a time of historically high acceptance. I have lived most of my life in the alternate lifestyle of a musician; no credit, no unemployment checks, nowhere to turn if you are unfairly treated in the workplace. It was a small price to pay for the freedoms I enjoyed. We must all learn to gracefully play the hand we were dealt – the world does not owe anyone a special break!
Legislating sex has never produced an acceptable outcome.