One of the most used phrases heard in the media today, especially among political reporters, commentators and candidates is “the sanctity of marriage”. Most often we hear it used to describe that holiest of holy unions, brought before and blessed by God Himself, with all the angels and saints in attendance to witness the eternal love of a man and a woman – HALLELUJAH!!!!!
Seriously, though? “The sanctity of marriage” is just another buzz phrase used by today’s presidential candidates, political talking heads and church people masquerading as political talking heads. It is a phrase cloaked in the righteousness of a completely unprovable deity, designed to deny a portion of Americans full rights under the law. It’s a phrase tailored to hide homophobia (and occasionally homosexuality itself) under a blanket of moral superiority and push a theocratic political agenda. The word sanctity itself is a word meaning holiness, saintliness or godliness, none of which belong in the contemporary American political discourse.
Let’s be frank. I am a supporter of same-sex marriage. I have many gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender friends and relatives, all of whom I wish the absolute best for. I want for them a life in which they can express the full extent of their humanity, and I am distressed to no end when their essences are reduced to the one issue of what is between their legs or happens between the sheets. That cheapens and demeans some of the most intelligent, compassionate, creative people I know. It also makes me sick to my stomach.
Marriage is (or should be) a close, personal, lasting, intimate union of two people. Period. Dot. End of story. Whether the parties in the marriage be heterosexual or homosexual is irrelevant. The pie-in-the-sky for-all-time sacred hetero institution described by the flag-waving religious candidates for president doesn’t really exist. The submissive wife and the dominant husband describe a union based on an imbalance of power, where the man (rightfully so, if you believe in the teachings of the Judeo-Christian bible) gets all the bennies and the wife gets a roof over her head and some love, if she’s lucky. Love is optional. You know that “love is patient, love is kind” passage from the Bible? Not describing marriage but, rather, a church squabble in Corinth. How about “wherever you go I shall go”? Nope – Ruth was talking to her mother-in-law Naomi. What about the “man shall leave his father and mother and cling to his wife” part? Jesus was actually talking about divorce in that passage!
If we were to examine the state of heterosexual marriage in countries around the world, we would find similar statistics. Between 35 and 60 percent of all hetero couples divorce at some point. For whatever reason. There are no reliable statistics for divorce of same-sex couples, because we are just getting to the point in our civilization when we are realizing the validity of same-sex marriages. It’s all rather new, so not too many people are keeping track. However, in Denmark (marriage is on the table there), one of the few countries to permit civil unions AND keep track of civil splits, the divorce rate among hetero couples is 39.8%. The split rate among same-sex couples is a shocking 14% for men and 23% for women. Those numbers are well BELOW the average divorce rate. Can we draw any conclusions on the sanctity of marriage from that? To which population is marriage more important? You decide.
I think if we are really going to explore the state of marriage, the breakdown of traditional marriage and the un-Constitutional denial of civil marriage benefits to same-sex couples, we need to examine the problem at its source: with good, old-fashioned heterosexual marriage and the contributors to its downfall. (Since the vast majority of marriages in this country are NOT of the same-sex variety, we can rightfully assign the lion’s share of the blame on heterosexual couples.) Heck, Newt Gingrich, one of the most popular Republican candidates for the presidential nomination, has been married three times, the first two times cheating on a sick wife and subsequently divorcing her for a younger, healthier model. With all due respect, he’s not exactly the man to be calling same-sex marriage “a temporary aberration”, when it appears that his are just as temporary! The following people – a small sample of men and women in the public eye and thus influencing public mores – have been married for a TOTAL of two and one half years (14 “marriages”).
- Kim Kardashian – married 72 days
- Dennis Hopper – 8 days
- Britney Spears – 2 days
- Mario Lopez – 118 days
- Dennis Rodman – 8 days
- Renee Zellweger – 128 days (over 4 months!)
- Zsa Zsa Gabor – 1 day
- Drew Barrymore – 29 days for one, 5 months for another
- Pam Anderson – 68 days for one, 4 months for another
- Cher – 9 days
- Charlie Sheen (pre-Tiger Blood) – 4 months
- Nicholas Cage – 3 months
This is a pathetic travesty. There is nothing sacred about these unions, although half of them were performed by a minister of one church or another. It’s spitting in the face of people like my friend Robert, who has been with his partner for well over 20 years. What should happen – what all these talking heads fail to address – is that marriage should not be treated as a social status adornment, as a fun way to spend a weekend next month. The wedding is not the end of the journey – it’s one day that BEGINS the journey. Girls should not be brought up to think that their only worth is connected to their husbands; that the only real and lasting contributions they can make to the world are through their husbands and children. In AA parlance, that’s stinking thinking and is counterproductive to real growth as a society.
Another argument for denial of marriage rights to LGBT couples is that marriage is “the optimal social structure for the bearing and raising of children”. If that were true, we need to outlaw IVF (if they can’t have them on their own, they shouldn’t be married), birth control in marriage, living together, post-menopausal marriages, single parenthood, poor parents (they can’t raise them right, after all), dual-career parents (someone else is raising the child), alcoholic parents (not raising the kid with good values), and on and on. Doesn’t that sound ridiculous?? These is the same twisted thought process that has led some social conservatives to trumpet that same-sex marriage will lead to bestiality and incestuous marriages. It’s utter absurdity!
Here’s what I think has really contributed to the breakdown of marriage in this country:
- Long work days (no time for each other)
- Reality TV (that’s not REALLY real life)
- Expectations vs reality
- Video games (the desensitization of humanity)
- Soap operas (they’re not real, folks!)
- Money (or lack thereof)
- Low-rise jeans and transparent, cleavage-baring shirts on young girls (and we wonder why Newt Gingrich keeps trading ’em in…)
- Boredom (in every aspect of life, especially sexual boredom that leads to affairs)
- Deciding to stay mad for longer than a few hours (and it IS a controllable decision – communication is key!)
- Online social media (especially when it’s more important to check your Facebook status than to eat dinner with your partner)
- Selfishness (it’s all about me, me, ME!)
- Inflexibility (ME? Change to suit YOU? Never!)
- Apathy (Who gives a crap anymore? Just get me through to Friday…)
- Lack of communication (nothing will work if you’re not on the same page)
- A lack of support in our attempts to be our true and honest selves
Think about what the denial of same-sex marriage to Americans REALLY means. Is it REALLY a preservation of a time-honored and sacred institution, as the candidates and talking heads would have you believe? Or is it just possible that our patriarchal society has failed but doesn’t want to release its death grip on morality? Could we be at the threshold of a new American society that will truly recognize that “all men (and women) are created equal”, thus ushering in a truly just society?
My take is this: There is no society, no religion, no legislation, no legislator that can dictate what my path through this world should be. I have been married for nearly 24 years, have laws to protect me and support me should something happen to my husband. I chose to be married to this man. I am lucky. My friend Robert has been together with his partner almost as long and has nothing but the love that binds them. That is not enough, in my opinion. He and his partner should have full protection under the Constitution of the United States. Period. Dot. End of story.
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