A new book by M.V. Lee Badgett, Professor of Economics, director of the Center of Public Policy And Administration at Amherst and research director of the Williams Institute on Public Policy at UCLA School of Law (phew, her business card must be huge!) has written a compelling and very useful addition to the debate about marriage equality.
When Gay People Get Married: what happens when societies legalize same-sex marriage is, given the tremendous amount of research and data-driven content (aka graphs and charts), a great summer read. Badgett takes a much needed look at how marriage equality is actually working in the place where same-sex couples have been marrying since 2001: the Netherlands.
Her verdict: marriage changes gay people more than gay people change marriage. Take that, Family Research Council!
As she has for her decades as a voice of reason in the LGBT community, Badgett contextualizes, analyzes and demystifies the current state of the marriage movement, armed not only by gathering subjective evidence from dozens of couples in the Netherlands and the U.S, but by taking all the data available to pull apart the many pieces of the marriage puzzle.
This book is a must for anyone - even those in the community opposed to the concept of marriage - to get a sense of where we are heading and what the major issues will be as we (like it or not) focus our community's resources on marriage equality.
On a personal level, this book resonated with much of my family's experience of the issue of marriage equality, including the true value of marriage, how our marriage has impacted the heterosexual people on our lives and the many ways this is changing the way we look at families in general.
My wife and I had an amazing wedding in 2003. It sounds trite, but is was the happiest day of our lives. We affirmed our commitment and vows to each other in the eyes of God(ess) and in front of about 100 members of our family, chosen family and friends. That ritual was such an important part of building the foundation of a solid relationship.
That said, we also have taken many legal steps to protect our family financially and otherwise. We have not gotten legally married (yet - that one time in SF was snatched away in 2004) and are waiting for marriage equality to come to where we live, hopefully this year.
There are many sides to this issue and this new book is a much needed addition to the conversation. And I am sure no matter what beach you are reading it on, you'll probably prompt some conversations as well.