Warning: Marriage Politics Ahead

I have to get a little political…just a little, I promise. And what I’m about to say has nothing to do with the presidential election, thank goodness. I feel like this election has been going on for the last four years. No, I want to talk about California’s Proposition 8, Florida’s Amendment 2, and Arizona’s Proposition 102 and how much they burn my biscuits. In California, polls went back and forth with extremely slim margins, with approval generally leading, and now I read that it looks like it will pass. In Florida and Arizona, it’s a done deal.

That just makes me so sad…sad for the people who recently got married, sad for all the couples that were shut out of the institution of marriage, and sad for the people in my own circle of friends who were planning on getting engaged soon.


While we’re on the subject of “gay marriage,” let me offer up some better ways to protect the so-called sanctity of marriage.

  • Work to reduce the number of divorces if you think divorce is bad. Last I checked, us straights are doing waaaaay more to destroy the institution of marriage than the gays ever will. You don’t have to sit idly by. The Beard and I did secular pre-marriage counseling and found it to be an eye-opening experience.
  • Teach children that there’s nothing dirty or gross or weird about two people in love, no matter what is in their pants. I think kids know this instinctively, but they learn the opposite as they grow up. Then they’ll spend less time worrying about other people’s marriages and more time thinking about their own.
  • There’s still a stigma surrounding marriage counseling — make it normal. Thirty years ago, if you said you were in therapy, people would be shocked. Now everyone and their mother sees a shrink. Let’s bring marriage counseling into the mainstream.
  • Finally, civil marriages for all (thanks for the clarification, serenitynow78!). You want to get married in your traditional church? Do it — I myself was married by my family pastor. Just do it after you’ve gone down to city hall and gotten your contractual civil marriage approved by the state. For better or for worse, private institutions can choose who they will marry. The state, however, should not be allowed to discriminate.

I mean, seriously, are couples like the late Del Martin and her wife Phyllis Lyon (above) who were together for FIFTY-EIGHT long years really going to “destroy” marriage? How, exactly? Am I going to be so tempted by the lure of lovely lesbians that I will immediately run out and marry a chick because it’s legal? Will my adamantly straight father magically become gay because homosexuals are granted the right to marry?

Somehow, no one opposed to letting gays get married has ever been able to give me a logical reason why letting them do so will set us on the road to ruin. Odd, that.

24 Responses to “Warning: Marriage Politics Ahead”

  1. Julie says:

    I’ve come out of the woodwork to say I agree wholeheartedly with particularly your last point. I’m a Christian and a bit of a libertarian, and I don’t think it’s the place of government to define what I see as a religious institution. It’s their job to legislate our relationships to each other, which includes all of the legal stuff that goes along with marriage, but not to decide moral issues for us. Let everyone get civil unions. Let the church define marriage. It’s actually a concept I was first introduced to by C.S. Lewis, who proposed it as a way to deal with divorce (that the State could recognize divorce while the Church did not).

    I’ll only be upset if anyone is forced to perform a marriage or to let one happen in their church, whether the marriage is gay or straight. My fiance and I had a terrible time finding a church to get married in (we aren’t get married near our home church), and I completely respect the right of all of those churches to deny us use of their facilities.

  2. MET says:

    I am so disappointed by Prop 8 in CA and Prop 102 in AZ passing. I think people who get married and divorced several times, marry old rich people for money, or get married in Vegas for 3 days, are doing far more to ruin the sanctity of marriage than letting two people of the same sex get married.
    I think your idea of civil unions for everyone is interesting, though I do not plan on getting married in a church or by a religious person, and I would still call it a marriage.

  3. Julie: Right on. I don’t think anyone out there is suggesting that churches and other religious institutions would be forced to marry homosexual couples. That’s legislating morality, just in a different way.

    MET: Call it whatever you like 🙂 A marriage…a partnership…a civil union…a zubbityflub. You name it! When I talk about civil unions sanctioned by the state, I’m only thinking about how it would appear on the law books. As far as I’m concerned, any consenting adult who wants a marriage should be able to have one, whether they think doing it in a church is the important part or the license is the important part or the vows are the important part.

  4. casablancabride says:

    Amen. Well said, NtB.

  5. Meg says:

    I am bitterly disappointed in my home state. (I live in CO now, but grew up in CA.)

    Gay people marrying does not affect my marriage one bit. I have a pair of friends who have been together for over a decade and a half — they should be allowed to marry.

    I wish the country would move towards how France does it — civil marriages for all, and then you can go get married in your church if you like.

    My only hope is that with a more progressive president we’ll get a more progressive Supreme Court and this nonsense will be struck down.

  6. serenitynow78 says:

    As an important clarification, Civil Unions are NOT the same as Civil Marriage. Civil unions have been legal in CA (and I’m unsure of their status under Prop 8 ) and many other states for some time; however Civil Marriage is legal in a very limited number of states.


    So, for example, if the federal government were to lift the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and allowed federal benefits to same-gender couples (such as immigration and social security benefits), only persons who were “MARRIED” would be able to enjoy those benefits.

    “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice…” -MLK

  7. serenitynow78 says:

    Edit: “…unsure of their status under Prop 8 )”

  8. MissPrism says:

    Well said, NtB.
    My heart goes out to the couples in CA who must be heartbroken at having their rights and recognition snatched back from them.

  9. Glinda says:

    I live in California, and the propaganda and untruths that were being spread by the proponents of Prop 8 were horrible. Their tagline was that “homosexual marriage would be taught in schools.” Whaaaaa? Straight marriage isn’t taught in schools, what makes them think homosexual marriage would be?

    But really, there was a larger, better organized and better funded group on the Yes side than there was on the No. I think that made a big difference.

    I’m very sad that it passed.

  10. Twistie says:

    I gave to the No on 8 fund. I voted against 8 with great pride. So did Mr. Twistie and my brother the Wombat.

    A gay man piped me up the aisle at my wedding while his partner played with the band. They’ve been together most of their adult lives. They’ve shared feast and famine, health and sickness, dark days and sunny ones, the quirks they love and the ones that drive them up a tree. They’ve done this for something in the realm of thirty years now.

    In my book, that’s what a marriage is. You share the best and the worst of life with one another and do your best to support one another no matter what fate may have in store for your lives. The law of the land may say otherwise, but there are times when, to quote Charles Dickens, ‘the law is a ass.’

    And somehow, when gay marriage was made legal by the courts here in California, I resisted the temptation to leave Mr. Twistie and marry a random woman off the streets while giving little children candy if they’d only learn to be gay.

    Excuse me now while I go off and be very, very angry.

  11. Rachel says:

    Thank you for posting this. I feel so bittersweet this morning, happy for the country and disappointed in my state. I’ll keep watching the numbers as they come in, but I’m so sad, and concerned about what will happen to all those beautiful marriages we’ve been seeing over the past months. We just have to remember that it isn’t over, and we’ll continue fighting.

  12. Melissa B. says:

    Ugh. I was hoping hoping hoping for California same-sex couples that Prop 8 would go down in flames. I’m really disappointed. Like you, NtB, I have yet to hear anyone explain to me in a convincing way why making same-sex marriage legal would have any effect whatsoever on heterosexual marriage. I agree with everyone else that it would be great if we moved towards the French model, where only the state can give you the legal rights of marriage. Then, couples can choose to have a separate religious ceremony if they wish, and each religion can make their own decisions about what kinds of couples they’re willing to consider married in the eyes of the church. Complete separation of church and state is the way to go here.

  13. SusanC says:

    It’s hard for me to believe that Prop 8 was passed, but then I live in San Francisco, so my view of the election was biased- I don’t think I saw more than a handful of pro-8 signs or stickers, and no ads. But anti-8 supporters were literally on every corner… and I, like nearly ever other driver or pedestrian, tooted/waived/cheered them on. Ah well.

    The French model is probably the right way to go. Ironically, Prop 8 may in the long run help lead to better separation of Church and State through either backlash or the workings of an inevidably more liberal-leaning Supreme Court. People denied rights will fight longer and harder than those who merely wish to deny the rights of others. Seen through a certain lens, Prop 8 will probably ultimately tarnish the overall power and cache of church marriages as more people, straight and gay alike, opt for going to the courthouse and perhaps may be less likely to bother with a stop at the chapel after.

  14. Toni says:

    Don’t forget about Prop 2 in Florida, which was our version of CA’s Prop 8, and yes, it passed as well. I’m pissed that my anger over that has tainted my happiness over the results of the rest of the election.

  15. Elizabeth says:

    I grew up in San Francisco. I am very sad that intolerance and lies won out. No matter what one believes, I believe it is always wrong to vote to take away rights.

    I was hoping 8 would be shot down and shown that California was still the leader in tolerance and forward thinking.

  16. SL says:

    You don’t need to look as far away as France! I live in Ontario (Canada) and I think our system is great: I like that anyone can get married (gay or straight, religious or not) and it doesn’t matter if you do so in a house of worship, at city hall, in a courtroom, or in your backyard – they are all of equal weight as long as the paperwork is filed. I am an atheist, but I understand that some people would like to have their ‘real’ marriage in a church or conducted by a religious leader, and not need to have a church wedding AND a civil wedding to make it legal.

    After the shocking news broke here (how can a simple majority vote be enough to alter a state constitution?!) the consensus in my province seems to be: If you want to get married, please come visit us! No residency required!

  17. MET says:

    I wrote my last comment this morning when I was already late for work, so I didn’t quite get all that I meant on there. 🙂 I guess my point was that the church/religion was never what defined a marriage for me. I must say that now that I read your post again, I think I misread it anyway. 🙂
    As for suggesting people get civil marriages/unions/whatever; I don’t think people will go for it. I heard about Californians that were mad the marriage application said party 1 and party 2 instead of bride and groom. Now, that’s the application, not even the official certificate that you keep. Can you imagine the fit they would pitch if it said civil marriage?

  18. Sue says:

    In response to what SL wrote about marriage being legal in Canada – I too am proud that we are part of a small handful of countries that have completely legalized marriage (well, not that it was ever really illegal, it was just kind of unclear in the law and the Supreme Court finally ruled that it would be discriminatory to bar homosexuals from marrying). I wholeheartedly share the whole “come get married here!” sentiment, but i’ve been taking an international private law class this semester, and while there may be sentimental value in doing so, a marriage that would not be recognized in the State where the couple resides in would offer them no legal rights or benefits. Doesn’t that suck?

  19. La Petite Acadienne says:

    You don’t need to look as far away as France! I live in Ontario (Canada) and I think our system is great: I like that anyone can get married (gay or straight, religious or not) and it doesn’t matter if you do so in a house of worship, at city hall, in a courtroom, or in your backyard – they are all of equal weight as long as the paperwork is filed.

    Exactly. I like our way much better, instead of this civil unions vs. civil marriage vs. marriage hoo-ha.

    Up here, if you fill out the paperwork, get the license and have the ceremony, you’re married. Full stop. Marriage is marriage is marriage, and it doesn’t matter where you have your ceremony, or who performs it, as long as they are legally authorized to perform marriage ceremonies, and as long as you have your marriage license.

    It doesn’t HAVE to be so complicated, and proposing different kinds of marriages is just needlessly complicating the situation. If you GET married, then you ARE married. ‘Nuff said.

  20. I have to add that I agree with everyone that a marriage should be a marriage should be a marriage. But I am always quick to propose splitting it into civil marriages (legal) and religious marriages (not legal, spiritual) because of the bizarre separation of church and state issues we have here in the U.S.

    For some inane reason, a huge number of people assume that making homosexual marriages legal would mean religious institutions would be forced to marry gay couples or forced to recognize marriages between homosexuals as spiritually valid. This is totally false, obviously, and while I have no idea how anyone could make that leap, the people who believe it are not letting go of the idea. I think that the belief in this ridiculous notion has contributed to a great deal of opposition to gay marriage in general.

    Seriously — I was just reading arguments put forth by someone convinced that allowing legal gay marriage would mean that churches could not refuse to marry gay couples without being subject to some kind of legal penalty!

    I’m not sure how to resolve that disconnect without creating a clear divide between civil marriage and religious marriage.

  21. Twistie says:

    Of course, the same thing was said within my lifetime, mind you, about interracial marriage and to this day any church in this country can refuse to marry any two people for any reason they choose. They can refuse to marry a couple because they are from different races, because one isn’t a follower of that particular religion (or even that particular version of that particular religion), because they aren’t members of that particular congregation, because they didn’t take or didn’t do well in that denomination’s pre-marital counselling course, or even because they simply decide they don’t wanna. Most churches will marry most couples, but they always have the option to refuse.

    It’s the same argument that’s brought up every single time there’s a change in how people view who is eligible to marry, and the fact that it hasn’t been true once in all these years doesn’t change the fact that it’s the go-to argument that terrifies the most people.

    Eventually, people wake up and realize that just because marriage between people of different races or different religions or the same sex is legal doesn’t mean they have to participate, and the dust settles. Then we start fearing the next big change.

    That said, my brother the Wombat is starting a campaign to try to change things so ‘marriage’ is an entirely spiritual thing while those without religion would go to the state for a limited partnership agreement.

    No, I don’t think I’ll support that. If nothing else, who the hell would read a blog called ‘Manolo for Those Entering Into Legal Limited Partnerships?’ I wouldn’t.

  22. Eventually, people wake up and realize that just because marriage between people of different races or different religions or the same sex is legal doesn’t mean they have to participate, and the dust settles.

    I hope beyond hope that it will play out this way in this case, as historical precedent suggests it will. As terrible as it sounds, I don’t know that we can leave this issue up to a vote. When it came to desegregation, it was judges who stepped up to the plate, oftentimes going against popular opinion. Looking back, few people would say that those judges weren’t doing the right thing by going against the will of majorities. You should not, after all, be able to vote away what are wholly reasonable rights.

    …limited partnership agreement? How limited?

  23. Twistie says:

    I think his idea is that this partnership agreement would cover all the legal aspects of marriage (hospital visitations rights, financial rights in case of dissolution of the agreement, inheritance, etc.), but he’s convinced that if we don’t call it marriage, then the religious groups suddenly have no leg to stand on…despite the fact that really they already don’t except in terms of their choice to participate or not, which, as has already been noted, would be completely optional under the Constitution.

  24. srah says:

    I think the important thing is that – rather than marriage-for-straights and partnerships-for-gays – there is ONE institution for everyone, whatever we call it. I would be OVERJOYED to get a civil union, if it meant that my gay friends could do the same.

    (It also would mean that I would have found someone to get civil-united TO, which would be nice. 😉 )