You know, I like to think of myself as a fair-minded individual. In the past few years, courts, and now state legislatures, have begun approving of same-sex marriages. Given the numbers of conservative-minded folk in the United States, is it no wonder that there has been a vocal backlash of sorts? I have to say, I’m totally amazed that this is really an issue at all.
What business is it of the self-righteous who is allowed to marry and who isn’t? Many will lift up their Bible (or other mythic book of choice) and thump it proclaiming God’s law. These same people who also voluntarily ignore vast swathes of God’s Biblical law because “it was for an earlier time”. How convenient to know God’s mind like that.
What we really need to do is take a step back to consider what marriage truly is.
Marriage is a legal device for allowing two people of legal age and arguably sound mind to create a family unit. The purpose of this union is to establish ties for the purpose of legal and financial definition. It differs from adoption in that the parties involved are not creating a parent/child relationship nor does one have to renounce any other legally existing familial ties (necessarily).
For much of human history, marriage has been more about business than anything else. Family ties, being legally recognized, allowed fortunes to be retained within a family as well as to foster political alliance.
Marriage is necessary because it allows adults to have some choice as to the makeup of their family. However, it’s limiting in that you can only extend that branch to one other person at a time. You can’t contract your commune (say) to be a family via the marriage rout—though you possibly could via adoption.
How is it that you can adopt more than one child into your life, but you cannot add non-adoptive adults into your family beyond a total of one?
Much stems from the idea that blood is thicker than water. The biblical marriage family is consecrated by the birth of children, thus creating a blood tie between the parents via their offspring. This is why blood on the sheets and the stoning of adulterers was so important. Once adoption was allowed to legally create that bond when no actual biologic trail was extant, then the “sacred” (i.e. blood) aspect of marriage went out the window…and with it the requirement that the marriage bond be between a potential breeding pair.
Adoption removed from the equation the necessity that biologically conceived and born children be the legal and spiritual tie to validate a marriage. All that was required was an earnest desire to form a family. Thus, the whole bible-thumping argument about men, women, cleaving, and children carries no great weight as it’s just a house of cards.
Which brings us to today. As has happened so many times in human history, many are using their own personal prejudices to try to arbitrarily decide who amongst their own species are allowed to be considered an equal among equals. Historically, whether you are black, white, Kurdish, Jewish, homosexual, polygamous, from the river people, a Hatfield, or whatever…there have always—ALWAYS—been pressures to keep those who are “other” to not be recognized fully as people. It’s nothing more than fear… fear of the “other”. Fear that your own group isn’t singularly special or blessed. That you are (gasp) not intrinsically better or worse than anybody else.
As for me, I’m not directly affected by this other than being offended by the disingenous arguments. I do bear the indirect costs of the “marriage benefit” that affords a legally recognized chosen pairing some advantages, but being that I’m not married myself, I’m burdened with that societal cost regardless if the genders of the marrieds is mixed or same. Frankly, I see much more sin in not being compassionate and fair. As for God’s law? The only rule is: Be good to others; try to not be afraid. Loving another person, being willing to commit to them because of that love, is not a sin in God’s eyes.
It’s not that I don’t understand the desire for some people to not want others to bond and/or to raise children. There are more than enough people around who I would rather just live solitary lives and not inflict themselves on others or future generations. But that’s not the way of things and it would be morally wrong to be the judge of what is correct for anyone else other than myself. There is a reason why all of our contracts, whether it is for business, marriage, or doing chores, are based on mutual consent. In matters of who we choose to be with and why they choose to be with us, we are fairly miserable at choosing for ourselves, much less dictating the parameters for others.
So…gay marriage? I’m not against it. I’m not against hetero marriage, either. People should have some choice as to who their families are and there needs to be a way for the law to recognize that. It has nothing to do with religion or politics, just practicality and fairness. That’s all.