the definition of marriage

i’m currently taking a seminar called “sex and equality.” we’ve covered quite a few topics – from radical feminism to institutional sexual violence, all of which i have opinions on but haven’t yet blogged about. this week, our topic of discussion is marriage. although i have a lot to say about conventional marriage, the first case that i skimmed dealt with same-sex marriage. in theory, i suppose i always thought that same-sex marriage should certainly be legal, since marriage can be categorized as a personal liberty, protected by the Constitution. but i’ve never really thought about it in the context of the arguments against it. the massachusetts supreme court case, goodridge v. department of public health (2003), caused me to think more logically and analytically about WHY i hold such a belief.

in the case, the MA department of health advances several reasons as to why same-sex marriage should not be legally sanctioned. i find none of these reasons to be remotely well-founded, let alone compelling. one of the main arguments against same-sex marriage involves the “well-being” of children. this, of course, operates on the presumption that an opposite-sex marriage is the best environment in which to raise a child. realistically, such a scenario is probably the minority in our current society – at least if you assume that the opposite-sex marriage is a HAPPY and HEALTHY one. the current rate of divorce flirts with a 50-60% rate, and many children are born to single mothers with unknown or irresponsible fathers. i don’t think that the legislature could rationally allow same-sex couples to adopt or have children unless it also allows the benefit of marriage. if the child’s best interest is at issue, then allowing for the legal union of marriage is the only rational way to further such a cause. if an opposite-sex couple marries, has children, and subsequently divorces, there are legal avenues that the dissolving union must endure. these legal avenues, if they function effectively, provide for the care of children post-divorce. although the system may not operate perfectly, it aspires to facilitate custody situations and financial support of children. if the argument against same-sex marriage is allegedly in the interest of children, then what protections do the children of same-sex parents, and the parents themselves, have in the case of a break-up? none. further, if children are the reason to protect opposite-sex marriage and deny same-sex marriage, than what about couples who choose to marry and NOT have children? is that a consistent line of thought? nope!

i find it completely illogical to allow same-sex couples to have children, yet deny them the benefits of marriage. marriage ensures, on some level, that the legal system can intervene and hopefully make decisions in the best interest of a child. if a same-sex couple is denied such recourse, then the children face an unpredictable future.

another reason that the department of health set forth was economic. it presumed that opposite-sex couples were in greater need of the financial benefits given by the state to married couples. this is ludacris to me. if financial need was a prerequisite for marriage (reasoned on the idea that the woman stays home and the man works), then opposite-sex individuals who are financially secure should also be denied the benefits of marriage. that is ridiculous.

further, the department of health thought that the massachusetts court should define marriage based on its common law definition. if the court actually chose to define marriage in such a traditional way, then interracial marriage would not be permitted – and that is preposterous! the point of the law and the constitution, is that it is flexible, adaptable, and open to an interpretation that reflects modern society. we must allow for society to evolve. if we didn’t, then women wouldn’t be allowed to vote, african-americans would still be forced into slavery, and any non-conforming way of life would be ostracized. i’m not naiive and suggesting that the world is in any way ideal – i know very well that injustice permeates our daily lives, but that is the very reason that the law should step in and at least instigate a societal change. sure, society follows the court’s decision very slowly, but it will follow. without change, we’d all be screwed.

oh, one last point that i probably should have mentioned before is the argument against same-sex marriage based on “morality.” well, what the hell IS moral? if two women or two men are commited, respectful and able to provide a safe and loving home for a child – well, that’s a lot better than what most kids receive these days. why deny a couple the benefits of marriage because they are of the same sex? who cares about “protecting” the sanctity of marriage when many opposite-sex marriages are devoid of love and respect, anyway? as the gap between men and women close, then we may as well outlaw marriages between professional men and women if we’re going to outlaw same-sex marriage – they are both nonsensical. but i’m straying from my point – the morality issue. some people argue that if same-sex marriage is permitted, than the institution of marriage is undermined. i don’t understand. it’s not as if same-sex couples are subverting marriage for opposite-sex couples. they can coexist. it reminds me of the morality argument against abortion. if you are against abortion, then be against abortion FOR YOURSELF, you can’t control the beliefs of anyone else. likewise, same-sex marriage should be personal – if you disagree based on your own morality, then don’t be in a same-sex marriage! don’t make other peoples’ decisions for them. that’s just small minded and lacking perspective. ok, i’m done. goodnight!

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3 thoughts on “the definition of marriage

  1. 🙂 Would it be wrong to say… AMEN!? The thing is though, people that are against same sex marriage are against it because of their faith. There is no logic or reason when it comes to true faith.

    The most ironic part of it all is that Christian evangelicals will LIE to make their point. They’ll say that kids are better in two parent homes. That’s true, but same sex marriage would create a two parent home! Every study I’ve seen suggests that gays and lesbians are no better or no worse than anyone else when raising a child. They are deceptive in their argumentation because they will compare single parent homes to two parent homes and conclude (without mentioning what they are comparing) that children are better off with two parents.

    As a poly person myself, I wish they’d do a study on children raised in poly households. My guess is that children that grow up with more than two parents will be better off than those with only two (one of their big arguments is that if we allow gay marriage, polygamy/polyamory is next).

  2. Prashmat says:

    🙂 Hi,
    I am glad to read this article. You have very well presented the issue and i absolutely agree with you. Hats off for you.

    Personally, i would like to marry my friend and may be adopt a child. Well, i think there is a long way to go in many countries where homosexuality is still illegal and in other countried same sex marriage is not allowed but have other contracts or pacts which don’t give equal rights as marriage.

    But, i hope things will change. I feel that change is the only thing which is constant thus I am sure things will move in the right direction if we all put some effort and get ourselves free of all prejudices, differences and hypocrisy.

    thanks again for such a good article.

    Prash

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