By now you’ve probably heard about this bit of news, this morning the CA Supreme Court has overturned the ban on same-sex marriage in my state. The conservatives are already pushing to get something on the ballot in November to re-ban it.
I wasn’t going to write anything about this decision at all. There’s been much rejoicing by my friends but personally and frankly the news gets a shrug from me. Not because I don’t believe in marriage equality but because I don’t believe in marriage at all. So let me explain, but first a disclaimer.
What follows is my personal opinion and not a judgment on those who are married or wish to get married…
Why are you against marriage, it’s just love? Do you hate love?*
I think marriage is an archaic institution that was and still is to a large degree about ownership. When a man and a woman marry the woman takes the man’s name, why? No, really why? If it was just about having the same name it would be just as useful for the man to take the woman’s name but that’s not the case. In fact even today if a man wants to take his wife’s name it may take him two years and a lawsuit to do so. Renaming someone, even with their agreement is staking a claim, it’s the loss of half your identity to prove what exactly? It’s only in the last 50-60 years that the idea of marrying for love really came into vogue. For the most part marriage has been about property rights, heirs and power.
For me the history of marriage is the history of a system of oppression and ownership of women. This is not a legacy I want any part of because even though people argue that it’s changed I think that building on a dark history only legitimizes that history. Plus I just don’t understand the need for outside validation in my personal relationships. If I want to be with someone then I’m with them until I no longer want to be. I don’t want/need to be legally tied to someone.
But what about the benefits?*
Well I don’t think those benefits should be tied to marriage at all. Because what about those who maybe want those same benefits to go to that friend they’ve had for over 30 years? Maybe a lot of this comes from the fact that I’ve never seen that much difference between romantic relationships and close friendships except for the absence of sex (and really that depends on the friendship). I think the idea that you have to be in a romantic relationship with someone to feel that sort of closeness is a societal construct that we’re all taught to buy into from childhood. What if I want all those benefits from marriage to go to my best friend of 5 years, how is that relationship and love less valid than a marriage of two people who’ve known each other for six months? What if I want my elderly sick mother to share those benefits? Or what if I have more than one partner? What if I’m in a stable loving long term relationship that involves three people? What if I’m polyamourous and seeing two people that I love equally and each of those people is seeing someone else and on and on? I just see marriage as another hierarchical institution that places those who dare fall outside the “norm” once again on the bottom rung.
Those people are freaks! Real love involves two people!*
There are those who would argue that it’s just between a man and a woman. And others who would say that that man and woman have to be of the same race. Love is for everyone.
But isn’t this a move in the right direction?*
Well not for me because I haven’t seen any of the discussion of the above issues, anywhere. I expected a little criticism somewhere on the web but it’s no where to be found and that actually makes me a little sad. But perhaps everyone is just caught up in the happy right now which I can understand and criticism will come later. About the push for marriage equality in particular well I see it as another way for LGBTQ organizations to assimilate more into the mainstream leaving behind the “freaks” and “weirdos” that used to be celebrated by the movement. Again playing into that structure where two people who get married are then considered better or more happy than those who don’t want to get married (like me) or those in the situations I pointed to above who still won’t be able to provide those same benefits to someone they love.
But we can’t just let anyone get married, god wouldn’t like that!*
And that’s another issue I have with marriage, the lines are blurry. It’s a religious institution, it’s also a governmental classification and the lines get blurred so that god is often brought up. Setting aside my personal religious feelings, there’s a little thing called separation of Church and State so personally I could not care less about what your god would and wouldn’t like. If you want to have a religious ceremony with all the pomp involved that’s your choice and more power to you. If your church chooses not to recognize certain unions well that’s their business but I’m talking about the government recognizing it and that’s something entirely different.
Well what do you want?*
I personally would like to see a shift in language, the abolishment marriage and the creation a new classification that would allow people to give those special benefits to anyone they would like, friends, family, multiple partners. I’d like a true kind of equality that would allow me more choice in who I give rights over myself to and that isn’t based on something with such a horrible history. You can’t build a perfume store on top of a landfill ’cause eventually that stench rises up.
Now all that politically radical rambling (that will probably get me in a bunch of arguments and trouble) being said I know none of this is likely to happen anytime soon. Understanding that, am I happy that an institution I don’t particularly like is being widened in definition? Of course as I stated above I think everyone should have the right to be recognized as having a valid relationship with someone of their choice. I think this is a victory but I think it’s a relatively small one and I’m gonna wait to jump up and down with joy until I see some movement towards true freedom.
*All of these are questions I’ve actually recieved in discussions on my view on marriage.