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Why Gay Marriage? 21 October 2006

Posted by Todd in Democratic Theory, Gay and Lesbian Culture, Gay Rights.

Regular readers know my deep ambivalence about the cultural idea of gay marriage, the probably impact it could have on gay men’s and women’s cultures. But from a legal standpoint, that is, from the point of view of equal treatment under the law, it’s a no brainer. If you’re still unsure about whether or not gay marriage is a good thing, consider what gay and lesbian couples have to go through, because they are not legally protected. Especially if you live in places like Colorado, where such unjust and inhumane laws are under consideration in two weeks, and you are considering voting against gay marriage, please take two minutes to read these real life examples of what happens to gay couples because their relationships aren’t protected. You’ll need to scroll down below the commentary about John McCain to the stories in small print about real-life gay men and women who suffered greatly by not having access to the rights taken for granted by heterosexual married couples. [The John McCain stuff isn’t why I’m directing you there, but it is also interesting.]



1. Randy - 23 October 2006

Somehow the media got it into its collective mind that McCain is a moderate because he shoots his mouth off and disagrees with the Bush Administration from time to time. His disagreements come more from traditional conservatism than they do from moderation, and are directed at the Bushies as a bunch of radical rightists. I don’t know why anybody is surprised that McCain is opposing gay marriage, though IIRC, he voted against the constitutional amendment.

2. Public Agenda - 25 October 2006

Surveys indicate that public attitude toward gay marriage changes based on question wording and whether the word “marriage” is used. Results like these suggest that many people are still wrestling with the implications of same-sex marriage, so surveys on this issue should be interpreted cautiously. Want to know more about what the public thinks about same-sex marriage and other issues surrounding gay rights? Check out Public Agenda’s Issue Guide on Gay Rights.

Public Agenda is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group devoted to public opinion and public policy.

3. Mike Kessler - 31 October 2006

Todd, I’m writing as a gay man legally married to another man. I’m not writing about McCain, though. You mention your cultural ambivalence toward marriage. I felt pretty much the same way literally until the moment I said the wedding vows, and then everything was different. I agreed to marry my partner of seven years because his LDS faith puts great stock in marriage and it was something he needed. I figured it would be a nice way to say to the world what most people already knew: That we are a committed couple. But saying the vows changed everything. (Except the rights we receive — our wedding was in Canada so the U.S. won’t recognize it.) There really is an undefinable thing that happens when you say those vows. Our relationship was already strong, and I thought it couldn’t get stronger, but it did, by more than I could have imagined. There is something to marriage that transcends cultural anthropology. Whether one is religious or not, there is a spiritual “thing” that happens when two people get married which elevates just about everything. After more than two years, I not only feel the same way, I feel even stronger. Marriage is not just a cultural artifact. It has a personal purpose and meaning.

4. Todd - 1 November 2006

I need to clarify: My link on this post was NOT about the McCain piece (about whom I really could give a shit). Rather, it was the list of real life stories of gay men and women who suffer under the current unfair/discriminatory rules.

I have no doubt that marriage is meaningful for those who participate in it, nor do I have any delusions whatsoever about the very real inequalities which come to gay men and women whose relationships are not legally recognized. My ambivalence comes from the way that it has been adopted among gay men and women as a political imperative and a cultural normative: that is, I fear that it is or will become the definition of a “good gay,” thereby destroying much of the innovative and creative ways that gay men and women have worked out their relationships without the cultural imprimateur of “marriage.” I don’t want to be “normal” and I definitely don’t want to be “like straight people.” I do not seek the approval of straight people nor do I believe I should need it.

But I fundamentally object to being excluded from a raft of benefits and legal protecitons afforded to the heterosexual majority and denied to me and any man with whom I may have a committed relationship. That is unfair on its face, and is a flaw in our current democracy that must be remedied.

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