I Stand on the Side of Love.
I don't usually use this blog to discuss political things because honestly, I'm kind of shallow and I prefer to focus on pop culture and sarcasm. But I'm paying close attention to the current debate raging in the Supreme Court and something was said yesterday that tweaked me. I was so mad about it, I went home and subjected my husband to a twenty minute rant--don't worry, he's used to them.
Let me start by stating my position. I think any consenting adult should have the right to marry another consenting adult. I think they should have the same rights and responsibilities that we all have. I think they should have health care benefits, divorce rights and tax rights. I think it's a moral issue. We do not have the right to deny someone their basic freedoms because we aren't fond of who they sleep with. It seems simple to me, though I understand why it isn't. I also understand the fear and terror of change that many are feeling on the other side of the issue.
But I digress.
NPR was covering the Supreme Court opening statements yesterday and this is what lawyer Charles J. Cooper said about marriage:
The concern is that redefining marriage as a genderless institution will sever its abiding connection to its historic traditional procreative purposes, and it will refocus the purpose of marriage and the definition of marriage away from the raising of children and to the emotional needs and desires of adults, of adult couples.
First of all, my understanding of history suggests that marriage was created in order to move and divide property. Women had few choices and were used as bartering tools to keep property and wealth in the correct hands, so spare me your romanticized history of marriage.
Second, since when does marriage focus on children? Did your wedding vows reference making babies? Mine didn't. My legal marriage exists because the United States says I have the right to marry, regardless of my ability or desire to procreate, regardless of my religion, regardless of whether or not you think it's a good idea. My marriage has nothing to do with babies or your narrow view of what marriage is. I got married because I wanted to make a public statement and a private covenant with the person I loved and the fact that the person I loved would have my health benefits made it a prudent decision.
We aren't choosing to have children and to infer that our marriage doesn't count because we aren't is a slap in the face. This argument boils down to religious people trying to cram religion into an institution that doesn't require it. Satanists can get married. Atheists can get married. Childless people, infertile people, jailed people, all have the right to get married. If you are gay and your partner transitions to another gender, then you can legally wed that partner.
I digress yet again. I was pleased to hear that the Justices poked some serious holes in this "logic" early on by asking if couples should be required to determine their ability to procreate before marrying. Justice Kagan went so far as to ask if couples who marry after procreating age should be banned from marriage. The lawyer's answer?
Your Honor, even with respect to couples over the age of 55, it is very rare that both parties to the couple are infertile...
He goes on to clarify that men rarely if ever lose their fertility and therefore her question was moot. I'm sorry but that negates his later point, which was that a union reinforces the notion that marriage imposes obligations of fidelity on the couple. If the female is infertile, the male is fertile and the couple has obligations of fidelity, then no children are coming out of that marriage. Therefore if you go back to his initial argument, their marriage should not be valid or recognized because it will be about the emotional needs and desires of adults.
I know this is a little bit of reductio ad absurdum, because no one is saying they want to make it illegal for childless couples to marry, but the logic is there.You can't make your argument based on a marriage standard you made up. Most of the 30-somethings I know are marrying with no intention to have children. Most of them are not religious. Their marriages are just as valid as that of a religious, child-centric union. They receive the same tax benefits, the same divorce benefits that religious couples share.
I'll tell you a little story. Last August I attended the wedding of a couple who are past child bearing age. They both had difficult previous marriages and their love story is one of grace and faith. They had a long, hard road to happiness and when they chose it for themselves, the beauty of what a marriage is and what it can be glowed like fireworks. It was the most joyous wedding I've ever been to. When they danced their first dance, my heart was so full of happiness for them that it ached. They got married because they love each other. Not because their parts fit together like a lock and a key. Not because they plan to have babies. Not because of responsibilities or social agendas. The purpose was simple, I want to be with you, I vow to be faithful, to take care of you. The purpose of their marriage was to keep telling the world that their hearts were like tree roots, growing together and becoming one. They didn't need to get married. But at a certain point in your relationship, you look at your partner and you realize that being joined with them, legally and socially, is the most beautiful thing you could imagine.
I want every consenting adult to have that right to do just that.
If you want to read more about Mr. Cooper's comments, you can find them here: http://blog.aarp.org/2013/03/26/justice-kagans-55-curveball-same-sex-marriage-u-s-supreme-court/
What is the purpose of YOUR marriage? Leave me a comment.
Trolls and lunatics will not be tolerated. Polite discourse only, please and thank you.