Oh, those selfish gays, demanding “special rights” again. The Christian Coalition and seemingly the entire Republican Party are up in arms over this week’s Massachusetts Supreme Court decision demanding the state legislature “fix” the denial of marriage benefits for same-sex couples. The court, ruling 4-3 that a denial of these rights was discrimination, ordered the Massachusetts Legislature to remedy the problem within 180 days. In an election year, I hesitate to believe it will be it that simple.
Mitt Romney, Massachusetts’ Mormon governor, promised citizens he would follow the “law of the land” when it came to issues such as abortion, but has vowed to usher a state constitutional amendment that “defends” marriage as a union between a man and woman only. Supporting these acts of dishonorable discrimination is the aforementioned religious right and no less than the president himself. Marriage, to them, is strictly defined in a sacrosanct way. For them, there can be no other interpretation of a partnership of two individuals before the law than as a union with the scales of justice held by their peculiar, particular god. It is not enough for them to enjoy their own self-righteousness; they must be able to weigh themselves against something they declare abhorrent and dangerous. How else will they know their own actions are blessed without condemning and excluding others?
In fact, for them marriage’s boundaries must be policed by angels, because otherwise how will they know that they are doing the right thing. However, their god must surely know that the American halls of marriage are full of smoke and mirrors. America has the highest divorce rate in the modern world and the rate of marriage dwindles year after year. The supposed beating heart of American society (which is the way the enemies of gay marriage describe the institution) is wildly out of relation to the actualities of the institution. Just as you should not take their word on it, you should not take mine. Ask your married friends. Ask them about the heartache, ask them about the difficulties, ask them about the cheating, ask them about the reconsideration, ask them about the long road ahead and, yes, ask them about the privileges and the benefits that are mainly invisible to the majority of married people.
Now ask a gay couple that has been devoted to each other in the same way, with the same issues and risking the same sort of emotional casualty. But in this case, they cannot visit their partners in the hospital; they could not openly display their love on the pages of a newspaper until this year; they cannot rush to each other’s aid in times of crisis. The biggest threat to the institution of marriage is not letting others in, but it is believing that the concept of marriage is so narrow that it cannot possibly accommodate anyone else. It makes you wonder: If marriage is so great, then why do the ones who celebrate it the most believe that is the most vulnerable to invasion?
For me, I do not plan on marrying anytime soon, if ever. This, however, does not forfeit my chance at marriage, nor does who I want to marry alter my capacity for marriage. The reality, for me, is that any institution that lauds its strength by emphasizing who is left out is dangerously corrupt. I take immense pleasure, then, in Dolly Parton’s recent statement on gay marriage. When asked if marriage should be allowed for gays, she retorted that anyone who wants to be miserable like the rest of married people should be allowed that opportunity.