Last week was certainly an amazing week for the advancement toward equality under the law for LGBT Americans. First with the Supreme Courts decision to strike down DOMA and Prop 8, then in an unexpected turn, the California District 9 court declared that it would not wait the standard 25 day stay, but rather begin issuing marriage licenses immediately. I was not surprised at all by Wednesday’s decision, it seemed the general public opinion that would be the outcome, however I was moved that our own local courts decided not to postpone this right and opportunity to us any longer.
By overturning DOMA the Supreme court made a clear statement that denying marriage rights is a form of discrimination, and under the 14th Amendment, no state may pass a law or have a law standing that is discriminatory. This means that we should start seeing states allowing gay marriage at an even faster pace, seeing that it has become a pretty simple case, however we have to remember that it took 10 years, from when the Supreme Court declared that segregation was discriminatory in 1954, to the passing of The Civil Rights Act in 1964, and still another 7 years after that before all states were compliant.
So as I said, this is certainly something to celebrate, the power and the right to get married, but as the famed saying goes, “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”. I saw many posts on FB last week from couples that had decided to get married, others that were happy that they now have the options, a few that already are, and of course PLENTY that want so badly to get married… just as soon as they find someone. Though most of the “desperately seeking singles” postings were light and witty, some were actually quite depressing, filled with themes of loneliness and sadness. With this said, it worries me that marriage will become, for so many gay men and women an expectation and an accomplishment.
When I was 20, a sophomore in college, I entered into my first major relationship with a guy named Jason. We were the same age, however our life experiences had been drastically different. He had been raised in a conservative Southern Baptist church, by very “devout” parents, where as I was raised by divorced parents, my father conservative, but my mother very liberal and free-thinking (needless to say I took after my mother, but got my dads features). Our relationship was the catalyst for him to come out to his parents… for the second time (the first time they insisted college made him confused and that the topic be dropped). They put him on house arrest and the only practical solution was that he move-out and we get a place together. This happened within 2 months of our relationship. Within a year we decided to buy a house together and 2 years later he left to go to school in New York.
The entire time we were together it was turbulent, we were young, unsure of how to navigate a relationship, even with counseling and self-help books. Regardless of the turbulence we were determined to stay together and decided to start planning a commitment ceremony. We were 23 at that time and felt it would be a way to celebrate and have affirmed our love and relationship. In retrospect I can now admit that it was an attempt to hopefully heal and strengthen something that was ailing and unhealthy for both of us. We ended the relationship just a month before the ceremony, I still have an invitation and embossed napkin that I keep as a reminder of youth and love.
We must always remember that love and marriage are binding, but can also be blinding. We must not allow our emotions and fear of being alone blind us from our happiest and healthiest paths. Learning to be alone and at peace with it, I feel is a key component of happiness. We are so “plugged in” to the world around us that we often become uncomfortable with solitude and silence. We find silence to be deafening because within it is the truth, our own personal truth, a truth we often don’t want to hear because it contains our insecurities and fears, perhaps of abandonment or loss. If you can’t being alone without feeling lonely, you should not get married. The only thing more painful than being lonely and single is being lonely and married.
The majority of marriage ceremonies have an emphasis on the concept of “forever”. As someone who believes in the liquidity of life and relationships, and am more in favor of boundaries, rather than rules, I find this notion to often work against relationships. It creates an expectation that is neither realistic nor healthy, if the people are miserable together. Nostalgia nor contract are a reason to be unhappy.
Of the relationships that we go through in life, whether they are friends, boyfriends, fuck-buddies, partners, husbands or wives, they are all “meant to be”, but they aren’t all “meant to be FOREVER”. We must embrace the principals of honesty, communication, happiness and love in ourselves and look for these in others. This is what should serve as the foundation of all relationships, not marriage. Marriage is simply a tool, albeit a very effective one, but it cannot inherently make the love between people any stronger.
I worry when I hear of these extravagant weddings, where at the center is a bride talking about “her” special day, that she has been planning since she was 13, that must be perfect and lavish, where she will feel like a PRINCESS! Firstly, a wedding should never cost more than a house and secondarily, a wedding should not be about validation.
I certainly don’t want to rain on anyone’s Big Gay Marriage Parade, I just want everyone who is thinking about getting married to have an honest conversation with yourself and make sure it’s for the right reason. You shouldn’t get married because you are afraid it will mean something if you don’t, it doesn’t. You shouldn’t get married because you think it will make your relationship stronger, it won’t. And also, you shouldn’t get married because you think it will keep him faithful, that doesn’t work either. So, if marriage isn’t going to make you happier, or strengthen the relationship or keep him from straying, when should you get married? I would say, when your so damn comfortable and content with your love that it doesn’t seem to matter anymore, because that’s what love is. Love is comfort, love is peace, love is simple.
And now for something fun and funny. Check out this clip from Tom Orr’s show Dirty Little Showtunes!
Gay Marriage Medley – Dirty Little Showtunes!