Anthony Carter

Will Marriage Save Us?

Filed By Anthony Carter | March 30, 2011 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: civil rights, gay marriage, LGBT civil rights, relationships

Marriage, any type of commitment, and being truly, terrifyingly, unabashedly, emotionally intimate marriage-lesbian.jpgis for grown ups. This is the reason we now have this insane obsession with marriage.

Although I have never really had the desire to marry, I am keenly aware of what it signifies and why it is significant. It is my belief that we have a hunger to grow up.

In this culture, the union between two people is one major way of stating that we are adults.

Is this the only way of taking on full adulthood? In this quest to be seen as a well-adjusted (normal) members of society have we truly taken a look at what this may cost us?

I recently heard someone state that who we are and what we do be considered "normal." I was bothered by this for a couple of reasons.

Placating people's fears and judgments only leads to more of the same. Rather than try to prove how much we are like the masses, why not say "Screw it, this is who I am and I am so busy living my life I really don't have time to worry or concern myself with your insecurities or lack of acceptance."

Before anyone decides to label me the arbiter of gloom and doom, let me explain. When I was a great deal younger, I hungered for three things: a life of the mind, a promising career in the arts, and men.

My immediate and always helpful family did not support the first two desires and are still waiting for me to outgrow the third.

We (as a community) have an insatiable need to be seen and accepted. This is a longing so prevalent and so virile that we will accept anything that remotely looks like inclusion.

But is marriage the answer?

Do we need full, basic, no question about it rights? Most definitely.

Given that more than 50% of heterosexual marriages end in divorce, is this a system we should buy into unexamined and unquestionably? Considering the percentages of failures among the folks that dreamed up this institution, is this the best star on which to hitch our wagons?

We most definitely need full access to all the rights, privileges, and rewards that our straight allies accept as birthright. What is very fascinating to me is how we are assigned certain roles that keep us confused and infantile.

As a group, we are the only ones defined by what we do in bed and with whom. Making this legal means not only does the world at large have to respect us it also provides the world at large with an unabashed look at relationships and unions.

In other words, having full rights makes everybody fully responsible for reexamining their prejudices and thinking.

Do we want equality or marriage? Are they one and the same? Must we limit our thinking to an either or limited view of what people need? Where do gay folks go who long for heart in the throat, life changing, soul shaking love and commitment and don't want to enter into marriage? I have yet to hear any discussion about that.

What are the action plans once this glorious day arrives? So much energy is going into gaining this right that there seems to be very little planning regarding what will occur once this goal is achieved.

This, my friends, is a recipe for disaster.

Many movements have been egregiously derailed because there was no plan of attack once the "big bad" was defeated and the goal achieved.

I would strongly encourage the folks who have the most to gain by this and who are adamantly pushing for this social change to find and or cultivate some progressive, forward allies who have more experience in this arena. Do you know a great loving couple who has some coupledom years under their belt?

Start dialing now.

The change will be here before we all realize it.

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I have a strong opinion what marriage means to me, but I will not bore ppl with that. I do want to comment on the photo, though.

I have had a massively horrid day, and that picture of those two happy, pretty girls in the beautiful gowns made me smile and sigh happily. (It even makes me happy now that I realize they are prolly just models staging a stock photo, and not really the love of each other's life).

And please, I don't care to hear comments from anyone about traditional ideals of female beauty.

There seems to be an assumption in the post that we are mandating marriage, not pushing for the right of those who wish to marry to do so. That seems to be a subtext in a lot of discussions and commentaries on the subject, and I don't really understand why. No one's demanding that everyone, gay or straight, be required to marry.

"Where do gay folks go who long for heart in the throat, life changing, soul shaking love and commitment and don't want to enter into marriage? I have yet to hear any discussion about that."

What's to discuss? If they don't want to get married, they don't have to. It's that simple.

But those who do want to marry should be able to.

I didn't get that as the argument. Anthony says that we should have the right automatically. I liked his opening theme of marriage as a coming of age symbol for heterosexuals and how that can linger in our community as a loss of a rite -and- a right.

Having read the post several times, I'm not sure what the argument is. However, my comment was that "mandating marriage" is a subtext, not the text. It's the underlying idea that there are no alternatives, when of course, there are. Perhaps it's merely an artifact of a discussion centered on marriage, but it's very common.

As for marriage as a"coming of age" ritual -- sorry, but no. Marriage marks a new relationship of the couple with their community, a new identity (as all life-stage rituals do) -- they are now recognized as a family, rather than individuals. It's a status that can only be achieved by people who are already considered adults.

It's the recognition of the status that's critically important. Of course it's a right that should be ours automatically. Marriage is a central institution in Western culture (although I'm not convinced it's really the basis of society). Inclusion in that means we are really an integral part of our society, not a group at the margins. Do we want to be included? Of course we do -- people are social animals, it's hard-wired.

As for what comes after -- people, if they choose to do so, will get married. Any planning is up to them at that point.

What's to discuss? If they don't want to get married, they don't have to. It's that simple.

I think you're assuming Anthony is making a policy-level argument. He's not. He's making a cultural argument.

It's like if a chef writes a column about seasoning appropriately. Sure, no one will be required by law to do that. But people are allowed to discuss the idea anyway, just as people are allowed to discuss what love means both in and out of marriage.

That was a comment on this statement in Anthony's post:

"What are the action plans once this glorious day arrives? So much energy is going into gaining this right that there seems to be very little planning regarding what will occur once this goal is achieved.

This, my friends, is a recipe for disaster."

I'm fully aware that this is a cultural argument, but I don't see the point. Why do we need an action plan for a goal that is achieved? (Note: I read full marriage equality as a far-future event -- repeal of DOMA is not going to mark the end.) And what do we need to discuss, specifically? And what is the disaster he's predicting? (And it is a prediction, although he's distanced himself.)

Cultural change is as much a function of attrition as anything else: those who hold no-longer acceptable views die off, and they've learned not to express those views openly long before that. Racial discrimination is no longer socially acceptable in most quarters. It's taken fifty years, and we're not completely there yet. but cultural change is slow. So what do we plan for a cultural landscape we can't envision? And why state that an achieved goal is a "recipe for disaster"?

I could give a rat's patootie what marriage "signifies" to society or individuals....EXCEPT for the fact that a simple marriage certificate has to power to prevent countless financial, emotional, and psychological traumas and burdens that NO ONE seems to understand unless they have experienced then personally.

I have previously commented that I, too, don't give a rat's patootie about being able to get married personally -- but one point of law has caused me to have seconds thoughts about that.

I learned recently that in Indiana, there is no provision under state law by which I can designate where and how I want to be buried. I can express my wishes in my testamentary papers and in a durable power of attorney for health care, and I can even buy my own plot and pre-pay a contract for my embalming or cremation -- but said wishes can be overridden by my family.

My only strategy to deal with this situation is to find a "next-of-kin" who will carry out my wishes ... in other words, a spouse.

It seems I can "divorce" my family while alive, if I choose to -- but the only way I can divorce them in death is to marry someone else.

LOL...Marriage is not going to save anyone!!! Considering todays world, there is sooooo many one sided gay/straight relationships!!! I say if there marriage it should be illegal to how many people will get married then!!
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Rick Sutton | March 30, 2011 9:26 PM

Bil can fill you in on the details, dear Anthony, but suffice it to say, we Hoosiers have been through the wringer lately.

My parnter and I have taking great pains to draw up legal documents describing every possible life event and our wishes. But if the family of either one of us steps up and protests, there can be hell to pay.

There have been specific examples of this exact instance. We may have to start telling them.

Marriage/ I don't care what we call it, but at my age, given the taxes I've paid in this state, it's insulting to already HAVE a DOMA, upheld by trial and appeals courts, and watch 110 state legislators tell me they need to grind their boot heel into my face.

It's the ultimate taunting, and it's starting to hurt beyond your imagination. We'll keep you posted. It's going to be a long battle.

Anthony Carter | March 31, 2011 1:59 AM

Give 'em hell Rick. Shall I write them a scathing letter ?

Rick Sutton | March 31, 2011 10:09 AM

Letters work somewhat.

Money works best, we've discovered.

Hate is profitable. More later on THAT.

A Mac'n' Cheese Fund-Raiser--would you come?

Anthony Carter | March 31, 2011 12:54 PM

You bet. When ?