Sunday, November 02, 2008

same sex marriage can strengthen traditional marriage

Opponents of same sex marriage argue largely based on fear. You can get a general idea here on my blog, or at Queers United here. One frequently heard argument is that it will somehow subvert or weaken the institution of marriage. I've never quite heard a sound basis for this reasoning. I truly have not a clue how two same sex adults marrying has any impact on anyone else considering marriage. When you're in love, you're in love.

Fighting fire with fire, I offer an argument in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage based on an idea I haven't heard proponents use. I predict that gay marriage can strengthen traditional heterosexual marriage, at least indirectly.

The right to marry is one large step toward acceptance. Eventually this increased tolerance will lead to more gays and lesbians coming out earlier, which will in turn lead to fewer deceptive marriages. Hetero brides and grooms can feel more confident when they tie the knot that they are marrying a bonified straight person rather than a closeted gay person who is using marriage:

a. to go straight,
b. to hide deeper in the closet, or
c. to convince themselves that their homosexual inclinations are insignificant.

Or some combination thereof.
Legal same sex marriage may mean, then, that hetero-wanna-bes, hetero-fakers, or those who have unwittingly stifled their true sexual identities will be less likely to carry out the facade of a man-woman marriage. Instead they will live authentic lives pursuing the partner of their true desire.

Fewer sham marriages equals fewer divorces equals fewer disillusioned spouses and shattered children coping with the fallout.

One such sham marriage happened to a friend. Many years and tears later, they divorced. She is still in shock. He is still in denial. Or more accurately, he continues to deny. Fortunately, in this case, no children were involved.

I want to underscore that I believe in gays having the same rights and priviledges granted to all adults because its the ethical, moral, and constitutionally guaranteed thing to do. Period. But I do hope a few hold outs might be swayed by the pragmatics involved in my argument.

I have reservations about posting this for fear I will offend. I know that in many cases, sham marriages occur out of a lack of self knowledge, out of fear and out of well intentioned hopes to live a normal life, to avoid hurting family members, or to avoid shame. Who can't understand these motives? The culture of intolerance carries the larger blame.

I am hopeful that legalizing gay marriage is one step toward tolerance which is another step toward gays being free to live exactly as they are instead of trying to fit into a one-size-fits-all, narrow minded view of love and marriage.

So on Tuesday, November 4th, think about it, give the arguments some sound reasoning, and ....

Arizonians: Vote NO on Proposition 102 which bans same-sex marriage
Californians: Vote NO on Proposition 8 which eliminates the right of same-sex couples to marry
Connecticutians: Vote NO on initiative 1 which brings into session a constitutional convention.
Floridians: Vote NO on Proposition 2 which eliminates same-sex marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships (even for heterosexual couples).

In other words, vote NO on ALL Propositions on same sex marriage.

You can read a lawyerly argument defending same sex marriage as a constitutional right, here.


Queers United said...

Reading the title of this post I thought you were going to propose a constitutional amendment banning constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage.

shrink on the couch said...

hey, great idea ....

Queers United said...

lol thanks, thats my open forum discussion topic for next saturday :)

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

My ballots been marked and mailed.

JCK said...

What's really scary is that there are so many propositions related to this issue around the country.

My vote is No to 8 on Tuesday.

Your theory is interesting. I think that until our society views homosexuality as normal as heterosexuality...we have a problem.

Lucy Fishwife said...

Sorry, CALIFORNIA is proposing passing a law which eliminates the right of same sex couples to marry? CALIFORNIA? I know I'm a Brit and thus ignorant of the finer points of American life, but isn't California the free state where all lifestyles are embraced???
Great blog btw...

Vodka Mom said...

no offense AT ALL. I just have SUCH a hard time with the government, or people, TELLING OTHER PEOPLE WHAT TO DO. Can't we just live our own lives? I'll NEVER for the LIFE of me understand how people can impose their beliefs on others. (Don't get me started...) I believe in Freedom- every sense of the word.

AnnD said...

I love you for posting this!

Madge said...

"Fertile conservatives = thumbs up"

that about says it for how those conservatives think about everything -- it's either their way or the highway.. but i'm not bitter. never bitter

Anonymous said...

Clearly I support gay marriage - in the sense that I think everyone should have the same rights. I don't personally think marriage is a great idea but if we have such arrangements then they should be open to all adults.

I can see where you are coming from in your argument and I am sure that making it easier for people to be themselves will stop some people from entering into unsuitable marriages.

I am not keen on the term "sham marriages" though. I think the vast majority of gay people, like me, who do get married to people of the opposite sex, do so with good intentions. Those marriages are not any more "sham" marriages than many others that take place - where money, children, nice house or whatever play a part in the decision. If I am brutally honest then I did suspect at the time that the marriage was unlikely to make me happy, but I thought there was a chance it might.

I really wish people would concentrate on their own lives. If heterosexual marriage is such a great institution then people don't need to waste their time worrying about it or feeling threatened by what others choose to do.

shrink on the couch said...

jck -- we agree. I do think children growing up seeing married same sex couples can't help but internalize it as more "natural" and hopefully more accepting.

lucy -- hard to believe but yes.

vodka -- freedom is a good way to put it. the pursuit of happiness is another.

shrink on the couch said...

madge -- from the party that says they want to keep the gov't out of people's personal lives, at that

rb -- thanks for your honesty. You clarified one example of how I thought some would find it offensive. There are many well-intentioned, "let's give this a try" marriages that I don't view as "sham." i.e., if both parties are informed, its clearly not sham.

Sham to me is when one party is duped into thinking they are marrying a hetero but eventually find out s/he is secretly pursuing same-sex affairs (the case with my friend).

There are hotlines (dating/sex hook-up phone lines) advertising for all sorts of casual sex -- one of the "busiest" lines is the "male seeks male" line with appeals for discretion and secrecy because "the wife doesn't know." This kind of thing is what I'm mainly referring to. Spouses in the dark. Unfortunately this is more rampant than most people realize.

And I completely agree, people need to put their energy into their own lives, enhancing their own marriages. I do think some people focus on how BAD same-sex marriage would be because it helps take some of the spotlight off their own marital flaws. A projection like phenomenon.

Mary Alice said...

I was going to say I think you are right...about decreasing incidence of sham marriage...but I changed that to, I KNOW you're right. I have seen that happen in my own family.

I did a post no long ago on this trying to understand why anyone would be threatened by the marriage of any other two loving people. No one answered my question. Maybe I didn't phrase it right.

Mental P Mama said...

This Connecticutians is most def voting NO. Great post! Great cartoon.

Real Live Lesbian said...

Great plan! I wish we were voting here in TN!!!

Anonymous said...

i'm voting yes on prop 8 because i think children have a natural and fundamental right to a mom and a dad. gender matters in parenting.

government does not regulate marriage because of "love"-- it regulates the institution because of any children that may result.

while it may seem progressive to extend the definition-- to me it denies children the right to experience life with what biology demands-- a mom and a dad.

of course same-gender parents can do a great job-- but they CANNOT equal a mom and a dad.

i think as citizens we should encourage children's rights as much as possible. prop 8 is one way to achieve this goal.

shrink on the couch said...

mary alice -- I went to your blog post and left a rather, ahem, long winded reply. I like the juxtaposition of my freedoms vs your freedoms. excellent point.

prop8discussion -- thanks for commenting and livening up the debate. I disagree about "gender" .. Some of the most important things kids need are: safety, shelter, nutrition, quality of nurturing and exposure to different interests and ideas (for optimal brain development). A single parent CAN provide all of this but two parents (of either sex, or same sex) sure make it easier.

Lisa Wheeler Milton said...

I didn't realize there were 3 other propositions this election season (I only knew of CA).

I don't know why some are so frightened by another's vows. Blows my mind.

Terri said...

I do not believe that all people who are against same sex marriage are against it because of fear. I also don't believe that people who believe homosexuality is wrong are homophobic. I do think that those arguments are used quite often to put "traditional conservatives" on the defensive.

I personally think the marriage is a sacrament. But that is what my religion tells me. I think that the whole concept of "civil marriages" is almost a joke anymore. Can you think of another legally binding contract where one party can say to the other "Oh, I know I promised, but I've changed my mind and want to break this contract for no specific reason." ???

I think people should be allowed to choose whomever they like as legal partners for taxes, insurance, finances etc etc etc. BUT I also belive that the contracts should be binding and SHOULD NOT BE TREATED CASUALLY OR BE DISOLVED WITHOUT SERIOUS CAUSE. Male female homosexual straight whatever.

This may be over simplifying things but it seems to me that broken hearts and broken marriages lie behind many many problems in this world. (And that is certainly true no matter your sexual preferences, race, religion, whatever).
I think that even people who differ on fundamental issues can be kind and respectful to one another and I wish to heck the snipes, snide remarks, smirk and out and out spitefulness would stop on everyones side of the aisle.

shrink on the couch said...

terri -- You make a point often heard, that being against gay marriage isn't the same as being against gays. But I think we're talking about a few different things here. One is allowing same sex couples the legal option of a state honored contract, the other is whether a particular religion chooses to sanctify the marriage, and then there's divorce.

Religious institutions may continue to forbid same sex couples the sacrament of marriage. I don't have a horse in that race. I'm defending civil marriage, independent of religious stripe.

Thanks for expressing your opinion. Its always good to hear a variety of viewpoints.

Minnesota Matron said...

Could not agree more!