Mawwaige.

Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear an argument concerning the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriage that passed in my beloved California in 2008 (with enormous help from organized churches, which still hold their tax-exempt statuses, despite using their influence to become major political donors).

There are innumerable arguments to be made in the struggle for equal rights: the separation of church and state; the constitutionality of legalizing homophobia; my very simple, and very sincere, confusion about why anyone would give two shits about allowing two consenting adults to get married.

However, of all the things that could rile me up, what really gets me is this insistence that what opponents of marriage equality really take issue with is the term “gay marriage,” because “marriage” belongs to the religious and to give “marriage” to the gays would be to violate the church’s right to separation from state interference.

Okay.  Let’s ignore for the moment the outrageousness of framing a human rights issue as a semantic argument and  explore this a little, shall we?

To make a statement such as, “marriage equality would destroy the institution of marriage because marriage is inherently religious,” is to make several assumptions:

1) There are no homosexual religious people, because

2) All gays are raging sinners (which is a blatantly homophobic and fear-mongering thing to assume, whether you admit it or not).

3) Currently, only practicing members of religions can get legally married in this country and

4) Atheists and agnostics must apply for “civil union” licenses at court houses and have “civil union” commitment ceremonies instead of weddings.

All of these assumptions are, of course, complete bullshit.

I am agnostic woman who got legally married to an agnostic man at a wedding ceremony officiated by a Jewish gay man who is one of the best people I know.  The only thing “traditional” about my wedding was that I married the love of my life.  And marrying for love was hardly tradition at the inception of the institution, when women were literally “given away” by their fathers to their husbands.

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One of my favorite images from my sham wedding.

And yet, simply because I am a woman who fell in love with a man, I was able to secure for myself and my husband: life-long memories of a fabulous wedding; tax benefits; legal recourse in case of accident or death; and the gift of knowing that my government and my neighbors see me as a competent, loving, and equal member of the society in which I live.

Marriage does not belong to anyone.  No one group can lay claim to its one true form.  Marriage, like most cultural constructs, has never been traditional – even as it is practiced, it is changed.  Marriage (and the wedding) as we know it didn’t even become “traditional” until the early 1900s, when women first started giving their husbands rings and wearing white at weddings – not to symbolize purity, mind you, but to emulate Queen Victoria, who chose a white wedding gown to make a fashion statement.

We don’t combat the progress of cell phone technology because it impedes the tradition of rotary phones.  We don’t fight the development of modern medicine because it calls into question the efficacy of plague masks.  The answer to why we stand in the way of social progress lies more in our own fears of change and less in how things ever actually were.

I hope the Supreme Court can cull through all the nonsense and make a sound and logical judgment on Proposition 8 tomorrow.  It’s been embarrassing Californians with common sense for four years too long.

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9 thoughts on “Mawwaige.

  1. Thank you! The part that irks me te most is the comment about destroying the institution of marriage when murderers and rapists in prison are allowed to get married. It bothers me how people care so much about making other people unhappy. No one says you now have to marry someone of the same sex in order to be married! Let people be! Gah!

  2. I love love love this post! I am not even a fan of calling it “gay marriage” it’s fucking marriage plain and simple. If you want to stop something that gives marriage a bad name cancel the bachelor. I am an agnostic who got married to a catholic (who is in favour for marriage for consenting adults in love) in a catholic church. In 2013 we are still arguing about this? In court? If you are a man and you don’t want to get married to a man, simple solution: don’t!!!

    • Exactly. Long, long ago (like, at the beginning of the Bush years here), my very conservative grandfather and I had an argument over marriage equality – he was totally opposed and I, a hippie liberal from birth, could not understand how this incredible man I have always looked up to could harbor such ridiculous fears (such as, that “gay marriage” would tarnish his own decades-long union).

      I am happy to say that now, ten years later, he is as much a raging liberal as the rest of us. All it took was two terms of George Bush and eight years of the neo-Cons! 🙂

  3. We are in total agreement on this. As an atheist that would like to get married someday, I hate that people associate marriage and religion as if you can’t have one without the other. Some of the arguments for why homosexuals shouldn’t be able to get married are some of the strangest things I’ve ever heard in my life. “Next people will be marrying their dog!” …Since when did another human being that just happens to be the same sex as their partner become comparable to a canine?

  4. I fully love and support this. I realize I am coming from the hated group, as I belong to one of the organized religions that was so against “gay marriage” (in quotes because of your comments, not because it is something artificial or something). I cannot state how disappointed I am to be associated with that. But here’s my main point – thank you for your post. And I wish I were brave enough to change my facebook profile picture, but I’m not. Too much backlash that I’m not willing to deal with.

    Here’s the bottom line. You’re smart and awesome and I agree with you and love your face.

    • First of all: Leah, I adore you – thank you, thank you for the comment and for your support and for generally just being so kickass. When am I going to be able to steal some of your ideas and post them here, love?

      Second of all: I don’t hate the Mormon church or its members (and especially not you – obviously). It just stands to reason that since tax exemptions for churches exist as a way to separate church and state, a church should lose its tax-exempt status when it involves itself so blatantly in politics. Again with the common sense no one has anymore.

      Let me know when I can see you!!!

  5. Pingback: Marriage, Gays are NOT Ruining It. | Busy House Big Heart

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