The only downside that I can see, in legalizing the partnerships of the 20% of the population that's gay, is a 25% increase in revenue for divorce lawyers.
Yay for New York! I am thrilled that the Senate voted and passed the legislation. I am beyond pleased that Coumo signed it.
I'm a straight woman, married, and approaching my 13th wedding anniversary on Monday. The success or failure of other marriages has no power to change mine, and I'm happy to recognize same sex marriages as equal to my own.
Oh, there's a mechanism all right. But gay marriage opponents usually can't be pressured into stating it -- either because they don't want to admit thinking the way they do or because they're convinced they would draw even more anger and ridicule than they already have.
Actually, there are two. One -- which they will sometimes explain in public -- is that allowing gay people to marry their partners is one more step toward society's acceptance of gay sexuality as a normal human variation. For someone who's convinced that gay sexuality is irretrievably sinful AND inevitably linked to debauchery, drugs and pederasty (none of which is true, of course) it's important to prevent ANY step toward normalcy, less the supposed adjunct practices also become normal and approved parts of society (since, to them, treating something as normal applies actual approval -- very black and white thinking).
The one most opponents won't admit to is that, to them, the conventional nuclear family is THE building block of civilization (totally ignoring the role of business relationships, voluntary societies, churches, friendship, and any other human relationship). The reason? Because growing up in a nuclear family is THE place where you learn, and internalize, submission to authority. Children obey their parents. Wives (in some people's view) obey their husbands. But gay marriages would be, in their view, inevitably marriages of equals, with no one in authority over another. THAT'S what they are most afraid of -- that without early training in authority and submission, society will cease to function because people will stop obeying.
(The possibilities of cooperation, collegiality, consensus, compromise, and negotiated agreement seem to go right over their heads.)
The nuclear family is a very recent innovation... and it occurs to me that someone who writes as coherently as you is perfectly aware of that, so I'm'a shut up about it.
It seems to me that what they want is communities where everyone's pretty much like everyone else. Villages, really. It is terribly useful, politically, to have villages.
I am unable to remember if I was the one who first said this; it's been too long:
It takes a village to raise an idiot.
I think there's also a sense that, if people the anti-marriage folks disapprove of are allowed to join in the marriage game, it will somehow lessen the value of marriage as an institution. If those icky people can do it, marriage must become ickier by association. The "logic" breaks down the more you start questioning it, but I think that's the basis of at least part of the anti-marriage stance.
I didn't say I didn't know the excuses the anti-gay-marriage folks use--but that they were invalid logic and lacking a causal connection. The "value of marriage as an institution" can be seen either as "the value that married people--as opposed to single people--contribute to society" or "the value that society allows to married people in return for the supposed value added by married people."
Societies have valued marriage for multiple reasons: it's seen as stabilizing adults (they "settle down" in pairs instead of roaming around seeking partners for casual sex) and as providing stability (economic as well as other) for children born to that union. It can link families in cooperative groups, define inheritance of property, etc. Societies that see marriage as providing stability and order consider this "the value of marriage as an institution"--its value to society. In that sense, refusing to allow gay persons to marry forces them into what society considers a less desirable lifestyle, and promotes the very behaviors that society considers undesirable in heterosexuals. Refusing to allow them to marry costs society the benefits society gets from stable adult sexual pairs (even if only serially stable.)
In this country (and many others) married persons have some privileges the unmarried do not have, such as a right to inherit (some) property, a right to know about a spouse's medical treatment and make decisions about it if that spouse is incapacitated, and certain tax benefits. These privileges and benefits are intended to encourage marriage...and these are a tangible part of "the value of marriage as an institution" to the married persons. It has occurred to me that what the opponents of gay marriage are really on about is the monetary benefit of marriage, which they prefer to keep to themselves. But that's painting them slimier than they may actually be. There's still no believable (to anyone but themselves) mechanism that transfers the presumed "ickiness" of the gay couple getting married to the straight married couple. That's like saying that no straight person can eat a food or drive a car or wear any garment style that a gay person ever ate, drove, or wore...which is ridiculous. I'm sure there are gay people who eat chili, barbecue, bread, cheese, tomatoes, apples, etc., who drive every brand of car on the market including a Ford Clubwagon or Dodge Caravan, who wear jeans, trail shoes, T-shirts...and a lot of straight people who eat, drive, and wear the same things without any ickiness transfer.
I think there's a third reason, which if stated, would blow up in their faces even worse:
The consider marriage a *privilege*, not a right. And they don't want the privilege extended to people they disapprove of.
Pretty much the same applied to inter-racial marriages and before that to inter-faith marriages.
I'm heartily in agreement with most of this.
Except for me it's coming up on 10 years of marriage, rather than the other numbers.
But one thing I would mention is that a failed marriage does not necessarily require anything beyond the ordinary character flaws we all have. Some people, while perfectly decent people, just are not suited to each other. One would hope they would discover this before marrying but it doesn't always work out that way.
I hope so, too. I think it will, with Connecticut, Massachusetts, Iowa, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia demonstrating that legalizing gay marriage does not result in either a rain of frogs or a sudden groundswell of immorality, divorce, and social unrest. Also 58% of the population apparently just fine with it.
Thank you for this post. Originally most marriage was for inheritance purposes and most people in a lot of Europe weren't even allowed to get married. Marriage was for the rich and landed and those that could pay the priest. None of which applies now so it amuses me when the right trots out the alleged "historical" precedent for marriage. In the 1400's most of them wouldn't have been allowed to get married either.
Edited at 2011-06-26 09:15 pm (UTC)
And about time! YAY!!
Actually, this reminded me, because it is New York, that after the 9/11 attacks there was a fund for families/surviving spouses of the victims. What made me absolutely furious was that families of illegal immigrants got this government money, and surviving partners of gay couples did not.
We know several gay couples who have been married longer than straight couples we know. And no, my 18-year marriage is not threatened by this in the slightest, thankyouverymuch.