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A Private Instituition

November 20th, 2003

Yesterday, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that banning same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. Now everyone is in an uproar, and polls are saying that close to 60% of Americans disapprove of gay marriage, including half of all Democrats. (And naturally, Bush and the Republicans are positioning themselves to make this a hot issue to help them win the election next year.)

What the hell is wrong with people? Is this another one of those issues about which people form their opinions based simply on hearing that it is unpopular? It smacks of the cloning issue–most people were against it, but when it came down to it, they really had no idea why they were against it–they just heard that “moral leaders” said it was wrong and accepted that idea. I know a few people, whom I consider otherwise intelligent, who are against cloning–but when I asked them why, I got the “army of robots” response. Seriously. After I pointed out that a clone is no different from an identical twin and is no more a potential “robot” than any other child, the answer turned to ambiguous, subjective disapproval.

I get the same feeling on the gay marriage issue, because after looking at the arguments, I just do not see any sense in them at all. The basic argument (here is a representative sample) is that gay marriage will weaken the institution of marriage, effectively devaluing it like currency. More radical groups say it is “administering a devastating and potentially fatal blow to the traditional family,” and that a “tyrannical judiciary” is trying to redefine marriage “to the point of extinction.”

And I’m sorry, but those arguments are just about the stupidest things I have ever heard, even the more temperate ones. I mean, seriously, weaken the institution? How? Will hordes of couples who previously would have gotten married instead stay single just because gay couples are getting married? Will two people, madly in love, who want to have children, who desire to somehow represent their personal bond of love in an official way, will these two people seriously forego marriage just because gay people are doing it? That’s about as inane as suggesting that people would stop having sex because gay people do it.

Gay people serve in the military, and that hasn’t stopped anyone from signing up (though Bush’s Iraq policy is doing huge damage in that area–different topic for another post). Gay people work in show business, I don’t see any star-struck youngsters avoiding Hollywood for that reason. Gay people are religious and go to church–but they’re not the cause of straights giving up religion or staying home Sundays. Gay people work at jobs, they go on vacations, they have parades, they eat snacks, they run for office, they rent videos, they do pretty much everything straight people do–and there is not any reason I can see to believe that any of these things dissuade straight people from engaging in these activities. In fact, the recent popularity of shows like “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” even suggest that straights might take cues from gays–maybe gay people getting married will even make it more hip again.

Have you ever heard anyone, I mean anyone, say that they were thinking of getting married but would not if gay people did it? Even fanatical extremists? When you hear people talk about not getting married, what are the reasons? From what I understand, it is often because people see marriages as often failing, and think that if they stayed unmarried, they could avoid the pressure of marriage–but that has nothing to do with homosexuality. Some suggest that gay marriages “lack permanence and fidelity” (see the sample argument above, and note they do not quote the study as it is almost certainly bogus)–but if gay marriages started failing, would straights follow their lead? I doubt it–more people would probably disregard it, or just shrug and figure that marriage works better for straights after all.

Frankly, I cannot imagine the issue affecting any rational person. I mean, what difference does it make? And if I were to have my desire to marry influenced by the example of another couple, I would no be at all set off by a gay couple tying the knot–I would much more likely react adversely to the straight couple living next to them, who married too soon and had kids too early, feel trapped in their marriage but staying in it for just the kids, with spousal abuse, infidelity and other poisons rotting the family from within. But even with that, I would take it as a cautionary example, a lesson on how not to do marriage the wrong way, to avoid the pitfalls and mistakes other people make. At least in that respect, the hetero marriage would have some relevance to my own situation. The gay marriage would hardly even apply to my situation in any adverse way.

Marriage is not the fragile institution that many people seem to think it is. Gay marriages will have little or no effect on it. Some call it a religious bond, some call it a social institution–but they are wrong. When it comes down to it, marriage is an expression of love and commitment between two people, their children and no one else. It applies to others only as an outgoing expression of their private bond, like saying, “just wanted you to know we’re together.” Other marriages are simply outside that personal universe those people occupy.

So let’s stop this mindless objection, allow anyone to get married to whomever they please, and deal with more serious issues.

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  1. November 20th, 2003 at 00:53 | #1

    Ahh but you are contradicting yourself:

    >> When it comes down to it, marriage is an expression of love and commitment between two people, their children and no one else.

    If THAT is all it come’s down to, then there’s nothing in the law denying gay people the right to pursue those same goals.

    But marriage IS more than that. And it is that “more” that is at stake here — and there are more than a few Queer Theorists who are openly fighting against the Institution itself, instead of merely for same-sex access to it.

    I’ve covered this aspect fairly extensively at

  2. Luis
    November 21st, 2003 at 00:14 | #2


    No contradiction, instead you are reading meaning out of the sentence. It is an expression, but that expression is a LEGAL one–what else would marriage be? Do you consider marriage to be anything but a legal definition? It is so obvious that I did not even see the point of describing it as such. The law denying gays the right to marriage absolutely denies them that goal.

    You also know full well that marriage brings legal priveleges that extend beyond just having children. Guardianship, for example, or legal rights upon the death of the spouse, property transfer, and so on. Gay people are denied the ability to make such assignments to their spouse.

    As for your web page, I read over it. First, you give no example whatsoever of how gays marrying will destroy the institution of marriage. As for the benefits of marriage you cite, fine–but you give no evidence at all that gays enjoying said rights will have any detrimental effects–you simply state that the society defines what marriage is, tough cookies to those who don’t like it, and that’s it.

    As for your reference to the the FOX News article, it is completely bogus–that’s what you get for believing those jokers. Did you actually look at the source? Here it is:


    The mention of de-legalization was in ONE article by ONE person, and it was NOT advocacy of such a thing, but rather discussion of the idea. First, Blankenhorn simply asks how a certain religious group would react to de-legalization, right before he ponders how they would react to a re-definition. In his second mention of de-legalization, he only mentions it as a possibility within the confines of a report by the religious organization.

    And even if you were to actually dig up a legal or gay group that supports de-legalization, that would only represent that group, and not gays or supporters of gay marriage in general. In fact, supporters of gay marriage far from desire the de-legalization, they wish broaderlegalization.

  3. lots of love worldwide
    November 21st, 2003 at 05:41 | #3

    Editor’s note: This comment has been transferred to this location due to the off-topic nature in the original entry, and edited to remove images that drew from a referring server not belonging to the poster–something considered bad netiquette (“stealing bandwidth” by some).

    Please, people, try to stay relevant, and comment on the topic at hand. I don’t mind if you go off on rants of your own so long as they tie into the discussion here somehow. This post came pretty close to looking like spam, albeit activist spam….

  4. February 12th, 2004 at 00:42 | #4

    Vigilance “gets it”

    “[You need] to fight for same-sex marriage and its benefits, and then, once granted, redefine the institution of marriage completely… to debunk a myth and radically alter an archaic institution?The most subversive action lesbians and gay men can undertake?is to transform the notion of ?family? entirely.” ? Michelangelo Signorile.

  5. Luis
    February 12th, 2004 at 00:55 | #5

    No, he doesn’t. Marriage is defined by couples, as family is defined by families.

    Some people define their marriages as ones of convenience, or for finance, or just for kids and nothing else, or for doing what they’re told. Some stay in a hateful marriage because they hope it will be better for their kids that way. Does that define your marriage or mine? Hell, no. Does the marriage of the couple down the street who fight and cheat and batter and abuse, and the thousands upon thousands just like them–do they define your marriage? Hell, no.

    Some people define family as those whom they love in a non-romantic way. Some people include pets. Some people include friends. Does that define my family? Again, no.

    All of this garbage about how gays are secretly plotting to change marriage and family so it will destroy it for the rest of us is nothing more than homophobic trash, or people who get convinced by the trash without thinking it through hard enough, or those who just agree out of conformity or ignorance or fear.

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