on marriage equality and equal marriages

I just read a really excellent piece on marriage by Melissa Harris-Lacewell over at The Nation.  The entire blog entry is wonderful and if you’re interested in marriage, marriage equality, civil rights, and/or feminism, you should read the whole thing.  What particularly stood out for me was this section:

Typically advocates of marriage equality try to reassure the voting public the same-sex marriage will not change the institution itself. “Don’t worry,” we say, “allowing gay men and lesbians to marry will not threaten the established norms; it will simply assimilate new groups into old practices.”

This is a pragmatic, political strategy, but I hope it is not true. I hope same-sex marriage changes marriage itself. I hope it changes marriage the way that no-fault divorce changed it. I hope it changes marriage the way that allowing women to own their own property and seek their own credit changed marriage. I hope it changes marriage the way laws against spousal abuse and child neglect changed marriage. I hope marriage equality results more equal marriages. I also hope it offers more opportunities for building meaningful adult lives outside of marriage.I know from personal experience that a bad marriage is enough to rid you of the fear of death. But this experience allows me suspect that a good marriage must be among the most powerful, life-affirming, emotionally fulfilling experiences available to human beings. I support marriage equality not only because it is unfair, in a legal sense, to deny people the privileges of marriage based on their identity; but also because it also seems immoral to forbid some human beings from opting into this emotional experience.

We must do more than simply integrate new groups into an old system. Let’s use this moment to re-imagine marriage and marriage-free options for building families, rearing children, crafting communities, and distributing public goods.

Here I must first confess that I have been one of those people who has said that gay marriage doesn’t change my straight one. That it doesn’t matter to me what my neighbors are doing in their homes, with their families.  That two people in love committing to each other has no bearing on my love or my commitment.

But the truth is, it does. And it should. And I want it to. Continue reading “on marriage equality and equal marriages”

mawwiage, mad-dog, and fairness

Mr. Rogers taught me that no one knows what youre thinking and feeling unless you tell them.
Mr. Rogers taught me that "no one knows what you're thinking and feeling unless you tell them."

I write a lot about marriage equality and believe very strongly in marriage equality largely because I’m so happily married.  Though it seems some straight people see their marriages as somehow under attack from a threat of gay marriage, experiencing marriage has only more firmly convinced me how wrong it is to deny anyone a chance at this kind of happiness– spending every day with their best friend.

And today I am especially thankful for my husband and “dearest friend” (as Abigail Adams often referred to her husband John).  Yesterday I got home and was just feeling sort of mad-doggish (shout out to my English prof Dr. Robbins, who taught me this term from J.M. Barrie: “to be mad-dog is to kick out at everything, and there is some satisfaction in that” from “Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens”).  It didn’t help that I had thought Jon would be home around 7:30 and didn’t arrive until about 20 minutes later than that, meaning the dinner I had made was overcooked and soggy by the time he got in the door.

So he arrived to be greeted by a wife who was seemingly annoyed at everything he said.  WHY ARE YOU TALKING SO WEIRD? WHAT DO YOU MEAN WHAT KIND OF VEGGIE IS THIS, IT’S AN ENDIVE, GAH!  YEAH, DINNER WOULD BE TASTIER IF YOU HAD BEEN HERE 20 MINUTES AGO!  The poor guy would have been very justified to get snippy back at me, but instead, in his typically patient manner, he just asked me why I was so annoyed with him.  But the truth was, I really had no idea.  I was just irritated at the world and I had no idea why.  And if that was frustrating for HIM, it’s also super frustrating to me.  It’s totally unfair when my feelings are a mystery even to me.  Continue reading “mawwiage, mad-dog, and fairness”

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