Thursday, February 9, 2012

Opening my mouth: Marriage rant

Normally, I keep my opinions to myself. Politics, religion, war: I know these are things that I would just rather not argue about. However, the topic of marriage in this country frustrates me so much that I’m going to open my big mouth.

So there are a lot of arguments against allowing all people to commit themselves to each other in a legal fashion. Let’s take a look at those.

First off—and to me, the dumbest argument ever—is the definition of marriage. Linguistics 101: Language is arbitrary. Words only have the meaning that we give them. A tree is a tree because we say it’s a tree. Definitions are not concrete, and if we need proof, here is an example. Gay. The definition of this little three-letter word used to mean happy, lively. Then it became a term used to describe someone who is attracted to other members of the same sex. Depending on the user, this was a negative thing. Now? It still means those things, is used in both a good and bad way, but the fluidity doesn’t stop there. Even now the word gay is used in schools across the country the way kids used the word retarded when I was growing up. Good or bad, language changes, and the word marriage is no exception.

We have marriages of all kinds. Marriages of technology, innovation—marriages of peanut butter and chocolate. No one complains when the word is used to describe unions between objects…so why are we having a hissy fit over two people who want to form a union?

Okay. The next one. Marriage is sacred. I will admit that to some, the union of two people is a sacred and holy affair. These are likely the ones who have been/will be married for fifty-plus years, even the ones who stay married when they’ve wanted to strangle each other for the last thirty years of that fifty-plus because they made a promise to be faithful.

But then you have a whole lot of people who change spouses like some people change shoes. They meet. Three weeks later, they hit the chapel and wave their marriage license over their heads like they just found the golden ticket. Three months, weeks, days after that, the couple realizes they hate each other and the marriage ends. Sacred? Really?

If marriage is so sacred, then how is it that people are allowed to abuse it so much? We are more offended by someone saying a prayer in public than we are by this mockery of a ritual that’s supposed to be blessed by God.

There is also another little matter dealing with the religious aspects of marriage. The separation of church and state. Sounds simple, but we’ve made it clear that it’s not. The state issues marriage licenses for a fee, taxes are adjusted based on the marriage status of the person filing, and that’s all fine until a gay/lesbian couple wants to commit themselves the same way straight couples do. Why? Seriously, give me a legitimate, economical standpoint to not allow these couples to pay for a piece of paper that legalizes a partnership that already exists. Because other than that, it sounds like personal religious beliefs are invading our supposedly unbiased state.

Speaking of paying, let’s talk economics. People spend thousands and thousands of dollars getting married. People buy engagement rings that cost the equivalent of a car just to ask someone to marry them. And when that person says yes? The dollars start flying. Caterers. Wedding locations. Reception locations. Dresses. Tuxes. Bands, souvenirs, wedding gifts. That’s a lot of cash flow right into our consumer market. Guess what? Those couples being denied the right to marriage? They want all those things, too.

A certain political figure claimed recently that marriage is a privilege. I call bullshit. We allow the most ill-equipped heterosexual couples to legally bind themselves to each other without discrimination. No one asks if they are capable of holding a marriage together, if they are responsible enough or faithful enough or if they believe in the sanctity of the union they are entering into. We allow children to get married if their parents sign for them. But when two adults of the same gender—some of whom have already spent fifty-plus years together because of a love and devotion that most of us dream of—want that same right, we deny them. And that’s just bullshit.      

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