Monday, May 18, 2009

In The Same Sex Marriage Debate, Why Can't Love Conquer All?

Love. Everyone wants to be in love, to have someone to love, to tell you something about love.

Yet, William Shakespeare has truthfully said, “The course of true love never did run smooth.” And Dorothy Parker, in wittier fashion, has said, “Love is for unlucky folk. Love is but a curse.” In short, to love is to take the good with the bad; to take the good with the bad, in a sense, is the essence of marriage.

When I got married, like every other bride and groom, thought we were exceedingly original when we selected as our second reading the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians, “Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is not jealous, it does not put on airs….There is no limit to love’s forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure. Love never fails.” If all of this love is so powerful, so wonderful and so blind, then what does it matter if it is “same sex” love and marriage or, to quote Miss California, “opposite sex” love and marriage.

I don’t mean to trivialize the issue, but I don’t understand what the big deal is. What do heterosexuals think will happen if gay people can get married? Lightning bolts will not thunder down from the sky, zombies will not crawl out of the subway, locusts will not swarm Topeka, Kansas, A-Rod will not switch hit for the other team….well, I can’t vouch for A-Rod, but life will more or less remain status quo.

The New York State Legislature has until June 20th to enact legislation to legalize same sex unions. Perhaps it is too na├»ve of me to hope that at the end of the day love will conquer all. Why is it that only heterosexual couples get the right to voluntarily enter into the last legal form of indentured servitude? Marriage should just be what it is – part cultural institution, part formality, part circus – and not the epicenter of a political, social or religious agenda. In a Utopian world, wouldn’t marriage be genderless and universal? Doesn’t it mean something, doesn’t it count, if two people, gay or straight, commit themselves to each other before their god, government, family, and the world in a marriage and say, “I want to be with you, I want to grow old with you, I want to care for you and have a family?” We aren’t talking about water boarding or snuggies or the Taliban or the economy, it is love, and according to the Beatles, it is “all we need!”

Looking back on my wedding album, I can’t help but think how young and foolish we were. I was 24 years old; my husband was a “more mature” age of 25. We were head-over-heels happy, and I would do it all again in a heartbeat. However, I am ashamed to admit that over the last decade, there have been far too many times were I have taken my marriage for granted. My husband and my marriage have weathered the rocky times, the selfish times, the good times and all the in between times. Never once, until now, did I stop to think how about how my life would have been if I couldn’t have gotten married to the one person I love.

If all heterosexual couples could have an “It’s a Wonderful Marriage” moment with an angel named Clarence (or maybe just Nathan Lane) who could magically show us how things could have been if wedded bliss was not a legal option, I feel pretty confident to say that more people would approach the same sex marriage debate with a much more open mind and compassionate heart.

In the end, I think those opposed to gay marriages are just scared. Scared that homosexuals will take the hallowed hetero institution of marriage and finally get it right. Like the areas of art, fashion, literature, music, design, grooming, entertainment and celebrity gossip where gay people have surpassed their hetero brethren to achieve an awesome and glittering level of excellence. A success that is bigger, broader, bawdier and bolder, like Hugh Jackman’s “I Go To Rio” finale from “The Boy from Oz,” in a way no straight person could ever dream of; Only a level of excellence that could be achieved by a boyhood spent clandestinely dancing to Bette Midler in ladies lingerie and gold Gucci heels, could passionately wish, dream and make it happen.

Doesn’t a loving male couple with matching cardigan sweaters, to-die-for rose bushes and crisp Italian linen drapes deserve the same marital rights as knocked up 17 year olds from Alaska or Louisiana? Or can’t we a least hook them up with a commitment ceremony that is not half as cheesy as the whole Spencer/Heidi “Prontag” debacle! Who gets to say what is and is not convention? Is there some imaginary book out there, like Santa’s “Naughty and Nice” list which definitively states what can and can not be?

Now Miss California, Carrie Prejean, will tell you that great book of conventional wisdom is the Bible. Scientologists will say it’s a large egg-like spaceship from the planet Ork. Catholics will say it’s the Pope. The Prontag’s will say they are just so blessed to be famous and Donald Trump will say whatever will get him laid…with Melania, Miss California, Joan Rivers, the Pope, Rosie O'Donnell, or anyone else he needs to get into bed with to do a deal. Gay, lesbian and transgender people have enough to endure in life without having to worry about what the states, courts and cosmetically enhanced beauty queens have to say about their personal love lives.

This past Sunday marked the 5th anniversary of the first same sex marriage license recorded in the state of Massachusetts. According to the Boston Globe, since 2004 there have been 12,000 legally recognized same sex unions, which in turn have pumped close to $111 million into the state’s economy. Trite jokes about Provincetown, 24 karat gold penis commitment jewelry and his-his / hers-hers towels at the Berkshire cottage aside, you can not deny the coincidence that 2004 was a big year in Bay State history – same sex marriages were legalized and the Red Sox FINALLY reversed the curse and won the world series.

New York sports fans are you really willing to chance it? Take a tip from Red Sox Nation, embrace your inner Mike Piazza, call your state senator and support same sex unions - a May win at the statehouse just might translate to an October win on a hometown ball field!

6 comments:

mistersister said...

Thanks for sharing your point of view on this issue. Very thoughtful and well written....I look forward to reading more posts from you in the future!

Tom L said...

"I don’t mean to trivialize the issue, but I don’t understand what the big deal is."

Keep in mind that the religionists still believe that homosexuality is a choice. If it's a choice, and we legitimize that choice by allowing gay people to marry, your child and mine might choose to become gay. Yes, this is idiotic, one of the stupidest misconceptions going, but the belief is prevalent.

Anonymous said...

The only valid reason as to why legalizing gay marriage might not be a good idea is purely legal not religious. Extending legal protections to non-traditional activities is a slippery slope. The "Daily Beast" last week had a trio of 2 women and one man who were petitioning to get married. How we define marriage has implications- why is 2 people ok and 3 or 4 not ok?
Marriage between first cousins is outlawed because of genetic abnormalities resulting from pro-creation-- if u take that out of the picture could brothers marry brothers?
While your thoughts were well articulated, they addressed only the "feel good" aspect of this issue and not the more challenging legal one

Tarun Banerjee said...

It is so refreshing to FINALLY read an article about love! That was the only way I've thought about this issue and its just seemed amazingly absent in all commentary!

In response to Anonymous about the author's oversight of the "legal" issues: The poster's two points were gracefully made but must not go without response!

The "slippery slope" of polygamous marriage is not anything new to same-sex marriage. By the poster's logic straight marriage should be subject to that same danger; in fact, societies HAVE seen sanctioned polygamous relationships and notable in societies that did NOT sanction same-sex relationships. So not only is the slippery slope argument odd and not logically applied, if resorted to, actually undermines the argument made.

About the incest taboos being due to the harm of "inbreeding," that is quite simply not why societies have had this taboo. They're been around for a heck longer than we've even known about the genetic harm inherent. And the taboos have been inconsistently applied right through history. They're applied differently to royalty and commoners, cross-parent cousins, etc etc.

Even now, my home state of New York prevents marriage not only between close relations that would cause the genetic harm you mention (parents, siblings, grand parents/children), but others that have no such danger (ex adopted siblings), while allowing others that still carry the same possibility of genetic abnormalities (first cousins).

These taboos have had very little to do with genetic fear although that is certainly a valid justification. They certainly will not go anywhere if we consider same-sex relationships.

Anonymous said...

Tarun,

thanks you for your comment. Unfortunately, you missed my point. I am not judging nor do I have a strong opinion on this topic but the legal issues are real. Marriage in the US has always been a State issue and narrowly defined as a contract between a man and a woman. The reason there is no slippery slope with traditional marriage is because it is so narrowly defined. if that definition changes to permit marriage between men or women , it opens the door to challenges for legal protections for all types of unions. As i stated previously- if marriage is ok between a man and a woman as well as 2 men or 2 women, why not 3 women or 6 or 10? once you establish a legal precendent, it is very difficult to go back.
Regarding incest, the point was about the law not taboos. The law exists to prevent genetic abnormalities. if you take precreation out of the mix as you do in gay marriage, what would stop same sex family members from marrying?
Again, i am not judging but rather pointing out the fact that that there are legal complications of these judicial decisions and that dialogue should address more than just the feel good aspect of the issue

debate popular said...

I think there should be more honest with what we teach and the examples that we dar.Ser gay is ok because this is also okay to be different.
Not misunderstand what I say, be different is to be like maradona or messi in deporte.Ser different one sometimes for talent but we have to divide on other things such as sexuality because being different should unite and not separate despite
differences.