In Defense of Marriage

My husband said, “Didn’t they already get that?” referring to marriage open to all forms of couples. This was a year ago now. I told him no. It felt like a monumental stepping stone that my husband, who was born and raised in an Evangelical Christian household, felt indifferent about the idea of gays marrying.

Elizabeth Gilbert, on her website, champions gay people for wanting marriage. She explains, while describing her new book Committed that with the failings of the institution gays are the only ones excited about marriage.

A friend likes to remind me of a few points when we’ve discussed the concept over the last decade. He reminds me that Christianity likes to boast love. Think about the Golden Rule instructing its followers to love and be guided by love through your actions and how you treat others. Think about the New Covenant in which, as Christians, we are instructed to operate. The irony, I interpret, is in the details we are weighted down by in order to sanctify a few points.

So, over the weekend, the state of New York said gay marriage is okay. I believe that makes it three states now who will allow people in same sex relationships to take matrimonial vows.

My rationalization over the years, in considering my dumbfounded state over not allowing gays to marry is wrapped around state property. I always thought one reason marriage was governed by the state was a way to collect more tax or have more control over property. I’m not sure how true this is from state to state, but I can imagine a state getting more out of two than out of one. So, if that’s the case — you’d think in this cash strapped economy that states would be all over allowing more people to marry.

Ultimately, though, the argument for me is a secular one. We claim we are a state that is based on this separation of church and state. We have this high ideal in order for people to realize their own beliefs and practice their own beliefs without (much) interference from said state. Yet, in one of the most personal, difficult, and important choices a person has to make — the state is incredibly involved. THe state is involved from beginning to end when it comes to deciding who our life partners are. Control given over years of supposed necessity and kept with quiet acceptance among its followers.

So, we’ve allowed the state to control our marriages, and then, out of fear we throw a fit if there is push back to the laws when others want to marry. Similar arguments happened when black and white people wanted to marry (gasp) each other. Why are we surprised when people stand up and say, “Hey this isn’t fair! This law doesn’t fully encompass me, and I want it to?”

Good job New York. Please set the state of enlightenment to the rest of the nation so that we may better realize our ideal of freedom and choice.

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