The thing that makes me happy with the entire brouhaha over gay marriage is that it’s continuing to expose as total crap the notion that the institution of marriage should form the basis for granting hundreds of rights to specific people. (You know — a married couple gets to inherit each others’ possessions, make decisions for each other, gain custody of children, that sort of thing.)

For example, take the Manhattan Supreme Court Appellate decision from two days ago, saying that gay couples have no fundamental right to marriage. The panel of judges came to that conclusion after, in part, finding that marriage laws are based in their ability to ensure the production of children; their words are as follows:

Marriage promotes sharing of resources between men, women and the children that they procreate; provides a basis for the legal and factual assumption that a man is the father of his wife’s child via the legal presumption of paternity plus the marital expectations of monogamy and fidelity; and creates and develops a relationship between parents and child based on real, everyday ties. It is based on the presumption that the optimal situation for child rearing is having both biological parents present in a committed, socially esteemed relationship. The law assumes that a marriage will produce children and affords benefits based on that assumption.

No matter how you feel about this notion, if one takes it as true, why then should childless heterosexual couples be afforded any of the rights of marriage? Why should the courts deem them worthy of the title, and confer upon them those things that it excludes from homosexual couples simply because the latter cannot pair up to produce children? Parse it even further — what about couples that marry, intend to procreate, but find themselves unable to do so? Should their marriage certificate be revoked?

The remainder of that paragraph goes on:

It sets up heterosexual marriage as the cultural, social and legal ideal in an effort to discourage unmarried childbearing and to encourage sufficient marital childbearing to sustain the population and society; the entire society, even those who do not marry, depend on a healthy marriage culture for this latter, critical, but presently undervalued, benefit. Marriage laws are not primarily about adult needs for official recognition and support, but about the well-being of children and society, and such preference constitutes a rational policy decision.

Why, then, do married couples get to inherit each others’ belongings well after their children have left the nest? Why don’t we make each and every right that our various levels of governments grant married couples contingent on the production of the first child, and then terminate ‘em all as soon as a couple’s youngest child reaches the age of 18? Reason: because this is all complete horseshit, an attempt to perpetuate a social custom under the guise of something with greater meaning. Until we as a society can separate the notion of a couple making a commitment to each other from the idea that that commitment has some larger (mostly religious) meaning, we’ll continue to see dubious justifications like this coming out of our courts, and continue to commit injustices against those who happen to make a commitment to someone of the same gender.


Thanks Jason! See you August 12th.

• Posted by: Michelle and Amy on Dec 12, 2005, 11:48 AM

Well said, Jason. The gay marriage issue has had me in a constant state of outrage for quite a while now. I can’t believe that our country is allowing discrimination to be written into our laws, and is considering putting it into our Constitution. It’s just sick.

And that crap about marriage being primarily for/benefiting procreating couples is absolute bullshit. When my husband and I got married, we didn’t want children, in fact had no intention of having them ever. But that’s kind of beside the point - the State didn’t ask for any of that info anyway.

• Posted by: Minda on Dec 13, 2005, 2:57 PM

Nice comments. My partner, who became my wife last year, and I live in central Mass. We have two sons, 15 and 17. Now we have protections and benefits on the state level, although not the federal. We’ve stood up before our friends and family and declared our feelings and intentions for all to witness. And among the sweetest words spoken were “by the power invested in me by the state of Massachusetts…”

Note that we have children. My wife had children before I met her. I suppose that the courts would say that our marriage was necessary so that the children could have a stable two-parent environment. Wait… I’m a woman so it doesn’t count. So they need their father. Does the court understand that their father doesn’t even send them birthday or Christmas cards? That he doesn’t, in the years we’ve been together, seem to give a flying fig for his two sons? Does the court understand that I do?

We went to the state house during the Constitutional Convention for all of this. The sheer hate and utter willful misunderstanding we encountered from some folks was terrifying. Some were earnest and respectful, but many weren’t. Many came in busses from Florida, Ohio, etc. To a Massachusetts Constitutional Convention . Go figure.

I can’t help but think that if these folks would put a portion of this energy into issues a *little* more pressing what would happen. I can’t imagine someone traveling all the way from a far state to help in the fight against corruption in government or poverty.

Sigh… hopefully in time it’ll just become a non-issue.

• Posted by: Melinda on Dec 16, 2005, 11:17 AM
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