Dr Eve

'Why do gays want to marry?'

2004-09-02 08:06

Every time I hear that gay and lesbian South Africans are fighting for the right to marry, a queer feeling comes over me as I find myself wondering, "Why?"

Over the past two decades, the queer community in South Africa has already achieved so much.

In 1980 "homosexuality" was removed as a classified "mental disorder" from the manual psychiatrists and psychologists use to diagnose and treat mental illnesses.

In 1994 the constitution set out that there will be tolerance and no discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation.

Today 'Gay Pride' parades are no longer political rallies sporting as many cops as activists, but an excuse for dykes-on-bikes, moffies, leathermen and queens to have one mother of a party.

So today, all queer people in South Africa enjoy exactly the same rights and privileges as any heterosexual person, not so?

No. It's not so. You know as well as I that homosexual people do not yet enjoy equal rights, and that our society is far from permissive. However this is not the debate for today.

I think the interesting question to consider is whether this kind of "free and equal" lifestyle, with marriage as its foundation, is one we should want to embrace as a model of healthy, happy and good living?

At this time two lesbian women are in the highest court in the land fighting for the right to get married. Of all the rights that I'd think gay people would want to fight for, getting married in the present heterosexual way would not be the one I'd have imagined they'd pick.

More than half of all marriages end in divorce court, most do not honour the legal and religious contract into which they enter, and monogamy and fidelity, the two cornerstones of marriage, fly out the door at the drop of a garter belt.

The story here - and I would urge the two women in Bloemfontein, and all gay people fighting to get married to consider it - is that the institution of marriage in its present form simply doesn't work.

A new form of partnership consistent with the emotional, spiritual, sexual, financial and social needs of all people needs to be created.

I challenge the gay community of this country who have the same rights as heterosexual people to the basic needs of monogamy and fidelity to create a new working model of marriage. The present model is not one to aspire to.

I long for a time when we can all say, "and they lived happily ever after" and mean it.

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