“Did We Vote On Your Marriage?”
Best bumper sticker of the year, seen on the rear of a gay marriage legitimacy supporter’s Honda as I drove to work. It got me to thinking…
When Susan and I were married in the dark ages (1972) it never ever occurred to me to wonder if it was OK with anyone else that we would choose to wed. Ah, the naïveté of youth! I was soon made aware that the Catholic Church had reservations about it.
This mattered not a jot to me, but Susan had been raised in a traditional Catholic family, and although she was not all that devout, having our ceremony in a Catholic church was important to her and crucial to her parents. Even deciding to not include a mass was a decision fraught with enormous angst, leaving me a bit at sea.
Fortunately her uncle was a Jesuit priest, and he managed to tip toe through the red tape, and I think he may have ignored a snippet or two along the way.
The funniest moment (to me) was when he was working on the paperwork with me. We’d already gotten past the stumbling block that I had no declared religion and no real concrete views on any of the ‘big’ issues. “And where were you baptized, David?”
Blank stare, while his face gradually went white. “Ah – you were baptized, weren’t you?”
“I don’t know.” The man nearly went into cardiac arrest. Not being baptized was certainly a serious problem for him, but to not even be aware that the event had ever taken place was beyond his range of comprehension.
A phone call to my father resolved the issue. “Of course you were baptized,” he responded with an audible harrumph, and proceeded to reel off the name of the Lutheran Church in Buffalo, New York.
The “of course” baffled me. My parents had never expressed any interest in religion at all, although they did urge my brothers and me to attend the services of a wide variety of religions, which we did, in order to make up our own minds. Why of course? Why Lutheran? I regret I did not ask those questions at the time, but it was back to the rest of the paperwork, filled out by a very relieved Father Joe.
What if I ‘d not been baptized? That would have been a hurdle the church might not have been able to scale, and then what? Being married in some sort of civil ceremony would’ve been fine with me, but might have caused ripples of discontent throughout my new extended family that could have eroded a relationship over time. And to what end?
Has the approval of a church, or anyone else, been of importance in our marriage of over 40 years? Not that I can see. Actually, the disapproval of some individuals and some organizations over things we have said or done has served to bond us closer at times. We can criticize each other on any issue, but when others attack, the response is swift and united.
But back to the issue. Why does a government need to attest to the sexual identity of each of the partners in a marriage?
To ensure continuation of the species? That cannot be a viable issue in a world growing more crowded by the day, where the largest survival issue for the future of the human race is our own inability to stop recreating ourselves at an unsustainable rate.
For the stability of the economy? Please. Gay people tend to have fewer children. (duh) Gay people statistically are better educated and have higher paying jobs. Married couples routinely are shown by research studies to live longer and happier lives. Stir those statistical outcomes together and a logical person has to conclude that married gays will contribute more tax revenue to the government for a longer time.
To appease traditional church beliefs? Bingo. And I do not care what traditional church beliefs are, and in fact have suffered from them my entire life in small and subtle ways because I am an “outlier.”
Because their sex acts are “wrong” or “immoral”? Really? You can’t walk ten feet in your place of business without passing by someone who sexual tastes differ from yours, and in ways you might not find comfortable. Fortunately, you don’t go there as a matter of common community and privacy. Can we justify doing so as public policy? Of course not, no more than we could ever agree on what acts in private between consenting adults are “OK.”
There are several more arguments out there, and some of them are too silly to be debated, like “if gays can marry then the next step is marriage between a human and an animal.” Right.
In a larger sense, who has ever lost out by the inclusion of a previously banned group into the core fabric of our culture? Are we worse off because women can vote, work in career positions, and play sports? Apply the same to blacks, or any other minority of a given era. A student of history, even not a very good student, would have to conclude that every group that as been “let in to the tent” has made our culture stronger and allowed more opportunities for more people.
There is only one group that can argue, weakly, that they have lost out by these changes. White males.
It cannot be denied that in our country, and most others, white males have benefited from centuries of biased favoritism toward the best jobs, the best homes, and most positions of power.
Of course, I’m a white male, but even as a teen I began to realize that the odds had been tipped strongly in my favor since long before I was born. They still are.
The ability of gay people to be married will not erode that advantage, nor will it cripple the effects of any organized church to spread the word as they see it and recruit new members to their one true faith.
My marriage has been the most outstanding blessing bestowed upon a life chock full of them. It’s also been the hardest work I have ever done. I’m not so silly to think that all gay marriages will be successful, but anyone deserves the same chances for success, in any endeavor, than I’ve had.
Gays did not vote for my marriage, but I’ve now voted for theirs, and I hope you do also.
Copyright 2012 David Preston