Hooray for five ninths of the Supreme Court of the United States of America! Today the Court ruled that bans on same sex marriage are unconstitutional. Same-sex marriage, which was already legal in many states, is now legal throughout the USA.
Opponents of same sex marriage often claim that it will somehow undermine straight marriage. That’s nonsense. In fact, I think the opposite is true. Here’s why.
A decade ago, I was pretty down on the whole idea of marriage. I saw it entirely as a patriarchal institution. A religious relic. A random interference by the state into the business of two people. Why do I need the law to endorse my relationship? I was rude and vocal in this opinion.
But then I started to discuss the idea of love with gay people. I started reading Andrew Sullivan’s blog, where he not only wrote passionately on this issue himself but shared the thoughts of his many readers who sent him their take on the ideas of love and partnership. Here he is in 2007, writing about the prospect of getting married to his partner, Aaron:
So revolutionary for some; so simple for me. For the first time in my adult life, I will have a home.
It was hearing the arguments for same sex marriage that persuaded me I wanted to get married. This was because, by necessity, the arguments could never make appeals to dubious traditions or religious teachings. Instead, they had to be humanistic. They were were firmly and simply grounded in the relationship between two people. The persuasive arguments were nothing to do with nature, child-bearing or child-rearing, or about how things had always been. They were certainly nothing to do with financial incentives! Instead, above all, they were about the powerful and wonderful idea of making a home with another person and how fulfilling that can be.
With cis-marriage, there was always the possibility that people were going through the motions, doing what was expected of them, fitting into the box (and the dress) that society had already stitched for them. This is not so with same-sex marriage. You have to go out of your way to do it. Its not something that you just fall into because its what your mother wants, what all your friends are doing or (worst of all) what your father says must happen.
As same sex marriage slowly gained traction, I saw gay couples celebrate their unions, the forging of a family. And I thought: I want that too.
* Yes, yes, I am well aware that the title of this post is semantically archaic. I endorse this tweet and the many like it:
Wow. It's not gay marriage. It's not "straight" marriage. It's just… MARRIAGE.
— Chelsea M. Cameron (@chel_c_cam) June 26, 2015