Love and marriage

Today, the Supreme Court struck down DOMA and the California law that prevented same-sex couples to marry. It’s about time! I am all for the removal of legally imposed discrimination that had been on the legal books for way too long already. Especially DOMA was an imposition of a minority’s religious-based view on the rest of us.

However, when I see status updates like this one, I get irritated:

This is a happy day for all lovers of love.

Okay, so I assume it’s about today’s rulings – maybe it isn’t… could be about the gorgeous sunshine, too… Let’s assume it is, though, because the equation of love with marriage is oh so common. People get married for love – the popular myth goes. And the flip side: When people aren’t married, they don’t love each other (or at least not enough to get married).

What exactly does the legal right to marry have to do with love? Absolutely nothing. It has everything to do with the rights and benefits and obligations that are bestowed upon people who are getting married. You know, all those things that are being used to fight for same-sex marriage: Hospital visitation rights, inheritance right, adoption rights, etc. All those rights those of us who are single – for whatever reason – get excluded from (and pay dearly for that exclusion). Talk about not being part of the club. If we truly were interested in supporting love, we’d fight for the right of all of us to express our love in the ways we choose, rather than those ways legally sanctioned.

Even more disconcerting is that the other Supreme Court decisions this week seem to have already been forgotten – is that because they impact women and people of color? The latter decision is already having consequences in Texas:

Texas announced shortly after the decision that a voter identification law that had been blocked would go into effect immediately, and that redistricting maps there would no longer need federal approval.

And speaking of Texas: Let’s not forget that the white, male Republican majority there is ignoring a successful marathon filibuster to ram through an arch-conservative abortion bill. It’s doubtful that there’ll be a repeat of the opposition to the bill’s passing.

Of course, there are other voices out there as well, seeing marriage equality as an important step, though hardly the end. Although given some of the strange politics around the official San Francisco Pride Parade (from the Manning debacle to allowing military recruiters), I am not so confident that the people who are fighting for equality and really mean all will have our voices heard. It seems that the more conservative folks – who pushed same-sex marriage as the most important issue in the first place – will leave the rest of us out in the rain, unprotected by the rights that now some more folks can enjoy. Not exactly loving.

Since I wrote this, I’ve become aware of others who are raising some less celebratory, more cautious voices as well:

  • Nancy Polikoff reminds us that all children, not just those being raised by married couples, “deserve not to be demeaned and humiliated by their family structure.”
  • Scot Nakagawa takes on the normativity inherent in the SCOTUS decision by calling on the LGBT community to fight for all families, no matter what they look like.
  • Dana-Ain Davis and Christa Craven view the DOMA/Prop 8 decisions within the larger context of the SCOTUS decisions this week, which makes their normativity clearer.
  • And Timothy Patrick McCarthy and Darnell L. Moore have a conversation pointing out some very critical issues that are being missing by this single-minded focus on marriage.
  • An article in Tikkun by Timothy Villareal calls on a true redefinition of marriage – from its patriarchal roots to love – and actually enacting that claim (a slightly different take on the love = marriage myth…).

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Love and marriage — 4 Comments

    • Thanks, Shira! I’ve added a link to this article to the list of other articles that I am compiling at the end of my post.

  1. Yes! marriage is a commercial, business contract……and yes, you’re ‘selling’ your independence and so often your integrity, too, when you sign that ‘deal’! That ‘terrific bargain’ created by our monotheistic religion joining forces with political power to keep control over our personal lives and our offspring’s .

    they conveniently ‘packaged’ it in ‘sanctity’ and ‘romance’, creating one of the greatest illusion-delusions of this whole civilization.

    It’s making top headlines worldwide……and that seems to be touching on this same topic you have, rachel..

    i’ll try to get you an impressive article on this in today’s Tikkun magazine blog.

  2. I agree. Marriage is a legal contract with the government with both rights and obligations. For example, when I was married, I was responsible for my partner’s debts. And if my partner fudged on our tax return, I would be responsible for that as well. I have no interest in being married or having those obligations again.

    I see the ruling as basically saying that gay people are like everyone else and therefore should have the same rights. That’s a good thing.

    As a single person, I prefer to pick my rights and obligations. I can use legal structures like power of attorney, a will, and other legal documents to create the rights I would like to have without incurring the obligations I don’t want to have. It’s a little more work, that’s true, but probably not much more work or money than the average wedding!

    And yes, the loss of the voting rights act is awful. Write your congressman. They have the ability to keep these rights law.

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