Thursday, December 3, 2009

Post New York, More Scattered Thoughts About Marriage.

So the New York Senate really doesn't want you to get gay married in New York. 38 - 24. Good to know.

I watched the debate live yesterday, which was fascinating for many reasons: one, because it still feels amazing to me to watch our system of government function in real time. I know we've had C-SPAN like forever, but it still gives me a thrill. History happening. And I was very moved watching Senator Tom Duane speak. I remember when we elected him to city council in 1991, what a thrill that victory was.

It was mostly only those in favor of the bill who speechified. Some of the speeches were quite moving, but still they're making the same arguments that don't convince anyone as far as I can tell. If you think it's wrong for two men to love each other, why would you be swayed by someone telling how much and how truly they love each other?

(It's interesting that those against the bill didn't speak. Maybe because they have no argument that isn't based on religious doctrine. Ruben Diaz, the one senator who spoke against the bill, didn't have any qualms about bringing his Bible into the debate.)

Over and over, when politicians and activists make emotional appeals for gay marriage, they insist that they are not asking to change marriage, they are only asking to be treated equally. I don't buy it. I know many same-sex couples who are absolutely devoted to each other, but not sexually exclusive and (rightly) don't see monogamy as a necessary component of a stable, committed, familial relationship. I'm sure many of these couples would, if they could, marry. I have no doubt there are many monogamous same-sex couples (whatever works), but I strongly suspect this is not the rule.

I believe, in general, that our families are different and that it is disingenuous to claim that by allowing gay couples to marry we will not "change the definition of marriage," to use the religious bigots' phrase. If gays can get married, a heterosexual couple might learn from the homosexual couple next door that it's not the end of the world if you relax the rules a bit, and pretty soon it's just a big orgy in the suburbs. (Hm. Maybe I should be for gay marriage after all.)

I'm curious. Are there still laws against adultery in some states? There must be.


ep said...

I hear ya, but I think you're giving heteros way too much credit here. There have been TONS of committed straight couples through the centuries who were hardly monogamous. I don't think it's about monogamy at all. It's about $$$. Which is what marriage has always been about, primarily. The "love" component is recent, modern. I think what most people are fighting for is the ability to inherit stuff, be the next of kin, be allowed into the hospital room, be considered immediate family - which has legal connotations and is frequently denied.

Steven said...

Maybe there are lots of hetero couples who are not in fact monogamous, but it's the lip service, the hypocrisy that gets under my skin, the expectation that monogamy is the norm from which anything else is a deviation. Not that there aren't also plenty of gay couples who say they're monogamous (even to each other) and aren't. But I'm guessing that it's more common among same-sex couples to be frankly non-monogamous.

I know a big part of it is about money and property. So why is all their propaganda about love and weddings?

I am very strongly in favor of all of us being able to decide who is family, who is kin, as regards inheritance, health care decisions, custody of children, and anything else where kinship might be important legally. And I don't think that the right to create our own families should be restricted to married couples.