Rethinking Marriage

I’m going to be upfront with you: I have reservations about “marriage equality”.

Here in Delaware, a new bill went into effect at the beginning of the year which allows couples who are lesbian or gay to get civil unions. While a lot of people are very pleased that it’s going into effect (myself being one of them), others say that civil unions don’t offer real equality.

Let me also be upfront in saying this: I think that every couple that wishes to make a commitment to one another should have that commitment recognized by the state and they should be able to enjoy its benefits regardless of sexual orientation.

I recognize the fact that I need to tread very carefully here. There are people who have been waiting their whole lives to marry their partner – some of whom will never see that day and that leaves me heartbroken. We all deserve our day. I am genuinely excited that more and more states in this country are beginning to recognize this right – and glad that more and more Americans feel that civil unions and marriage should be extended to LGB couples.

However, I have my reservations about marriage.

As an outsider, I have a hard time taking marriage too seriously. I will never understand why we overemphasize this one day when, in theory, you’re going to be spending the rest of your life with this person. Why set yourself back thousands of dollars on a dress you’ll never wear again or make yourself go through a diet just to fit into it? Why not spend that money on your future instead? Why spend all that money on a facility and photos? You could spend that on a better apartment, house or car. Your education or your kids’ education. Hell, why don’t you put it into a nice vacation? At least that would last a week or two.

If I ever get a civil union/get married, I want the simplest ceremony possible. Maybe even just going down to the courthouse and having it officiated there. Then send out invitations to all your friends and have a huge party. No overpriced dresses, no patriarchal rituals or bad singing, no sermons. And I also want to be realistic. I don’t really want there to be anything about “Till death do you part” in the ceremony.

Then there’s all the gendered baggage associated with “traditional” marriage. Who’s going to be the man in the relationship? Who’s going to be the homemaker? What if, in fact, I don’t want to be the man or the housewife? What if I don’t want either of those from my partner?

And by the way, these are also questions for the straight world to deal with as well. How comfortable do you feel as a straight woman being “given away” by your father to another man? Why don’t you walk down the damn aisle yourself! What about married expectations as far as gender roles are concerned?

Obviously a lot of these questions are for couples to consider – but we must all face the weight of society’s expectations and if we are going to participate in this institution as LGB people, might I suggest that as we fight for inclusion, we simultaneously reevaluate it and test what needs reforming? Simply fighting to participate in what is oftentimes in the heterosexual world a very sexist ritual is not enough.

What are your thoughts on marriage equality? For LGB readers, what are your thoughts on getting a civil union vs. getting married? Is getting a civil union akin to the farce of “separate but equal” in American racial segregation? Are you married? Do you have a civil union? Do you feel that your relationship’s label has implications for your relationship?

jrm

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1 Comment

Filed under Queer Politics

One response to “Rethinking Marriage

  1. Pingback: Rethinking Marriage Pt. 2 (and other like things) « Queerrant

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