Jean Barker

USA: Is there a Straight Marriage Deficit?

2015-05-05 08:35

Jean Barker

Gay marriage finally made it to the US Supreme Court in a meaningful way.

This Supreme Court case doesn’t concern whether marriage rights for all humans (between two people, that is) will be taken away from those who have the right already, in the states that allow same-sex marriage. What the case seeks to end is the right of some states to continue to deny marriage rights to some citizens, simply because they are gay (or, of the same sex, if you want to nit pick).

The questions raised have been many and varied, but the ones that continue to confuse me are these: Who cares if people get married or not? Who cares who gets married and to whom? Why? Oh, and WTF?

Why does anyone think that straight people – or kids - should be threatened by the prospect of gay people marrying? Basically, what is the big deal, here?

Is it about public health?

No. Although there is some proof that men who are married are likely to be healthier and live longer, there’s no proof that the same is true for women, or that the men who choose not to marry don’t stay single simply because they’re so basically gross that no woman wants anything to do with them in the long term. There’s no proof that same sex couples are more or less healthy.

Anal Sex? Cunnilingus? Straight people have tons of anal sex, and not enough cunnilingus, so shut up about that. Straight Americans have more anal sex than Eskom has blackouts, except they do it with the lights on. And in any case, how is married anal sex different to unmarried anal sex, except that it probably happens less and less often?

Is it about the children?

How could it be? Straight people have kids without being married all the time. Also, gay people are forced to have kids without getting married, all the time.  So make up your mind? Do you want kids to have married parents, or don’t you?

Will gay marriage “devalue” marriage?

The weirdest argument of all, against gay marriage, is that allowing gay marriage will prevent straight people getting married because it somehow devalues the institution of marriage. Some people even argue that it already has devalued the institution. Institution, now there’s a sexy, romantic word.

Jokes aside, let’s look at his with a little bit of logic. Is there a shortage of marriage certificates? Or… wait, would letting gays marry create an excess of marriage?

I have an idea! Perhaps marriage would be more valuable if only 10 000 people were permitted to get married a year, worldwide? It would be like diamonds, which are actually worth nothing except for the fact that De Beers hides most of the ones they find in a vault somewhere? Right?

No. I call bullshit.

To imply that that a commitment between two human beings can be devalued or valued by the actions of any other human beings is ludicrous. That would be like saying that because I eat avocados, you can’t like them too, cause I already did, and you eating them would make them less tasty for me… Except that it’s possible to have a shortage of diamonds (or avocados for me to eat, if you love them so much that you eat my supply), however it’s actually not physically or legally possible to have a shortage of “marriage”.

That old “marriage is” nonsense

The people who say “Marriage is defined as a union between one man and one woman” seem to forget that at some point in the Bible it was defined as “between one man and as many women as he damn well wanted”. It was also defined at some point as only “between a man and woman of the same race”.

Nowadays, most of us know that that kind of bigotry is just sad.

Saying that marriage is one thing and “always should be” is laughable. Remember, women used to have to obey their husbands in most countries in the world, including South Africa, or it was legal to beat them. Hey, it still is legal, in barbaric places like Saudi Arabia. Women used to have to take their husband’s name, including his first name. Has changing this ridiculous law devalued the institution of marriage? I think not.  All it’s done is annoy the cave-dwellers who run the Department of Home Affairs or American Equivalent.

Yes, there are people who feel that removing sexism from marriage has devalued it. There are even women who insist on being publically (not for fun, kinky reasons) addressed by the ridiculous and insanely sexist title of Mrs. Fred Smith, but they’re weirdos. While I’ll defend their legal, constitutional right to their oddities, they should not be allowed to impose it on others.

Marriage, like religion, like society, like our laws, needs to keep changing and shedding its bigotry, or - snake-like - it will suffocate and die.

Marriage is a minefield

...and I know I just stepped on a bunch of bombs.

So let me just say this: Commitment and love is a beautiful thing, worth celebrating and binding to a community in the process of a wedding.

But let me also say this: Marriage is hard. And in the litigious American wild west, and in South Africa to a lesser extent, divorce court and the lure of cash turn basic incompatibility into accusations of abuse, or worse.

The list of casualties in that war includes the kids, both of your money, and every friend one of you thought you had.  

And yet, people still get married. Maybe one day, like smoking, and other things that are romantic in the movies, yet bad for you, it’ll become less popular. But for now, the only threat to marriage seems to be not letting it change - into something better than the mess it’s always been.

Maybe if straight people couldn’t figure out how to make being with one person for the rest of your life fun, gay people can? I doubt it, but it’s worth a shot. Maybe that whole “one person” thing is the next part that needs to change. In any case, in my opinion, nothing is sacred, particularly not one of the least successful institutions known to humankind.

I rest my case.

- Jean earned an MFA in Directing and Screenwriting and works in the LA film industry. She tweets as @jeanbarker and blogs pictures of signs and more, here. She will be back.

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