Took down some recent thoughts about the gay marriage debate. Interested in feedback. Go easy on me :)
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- Marco, You're being too glib and clever. Great for a blog entry. Not very good for a solution to a human rights issue. ~ AlanMar 4, 2012
- Can you expand on that? I don't understand how I'm being glib. I definitely understand this is not a fully formed solution. In fact it's not even a solution. As I said at the beginning, it's a thought I had.
But you clearly have some more thoughts to share. Please do.Mar 4, 2012
- Not really. I enjoy your contributions to Google+. For me, Google+ is the place that hosts a blog written byand yourself, that has a lot of other junk on it somewhere else also.
You link to examples of injustice. You have a good sense of what's right and wrong. Discrimination against gays is wrong. If there is an advantage that straight couples can have, that gay couples cannot have, one solution that is equitable is to eliminate that advantage, but marriage is more than a tax break. It is a structure for raising children, primarily, and it is pretty much the only one we got. Saying that we get rid of this and replace it with (waves hands) is untethered Internet thinking. Fine for the wealthy bachelors of Silicon Valley to disparage the nuclear family. Not really workable in the rest of lower-middle-America.
Not much different from any wealthy class chipping away at social support networks because they don't need them, and those social institutions have implications that offend their sensibilities.Mar 4, 2012
- Whoa. I think you misunderstood what I was saying somehow. I'm not talking about getting rid of marriage or family structure at all. I'm talking about letting the definition of "marriage" be looser and left to the discretion of private citizens. The government has little to do with how you define your family.
I also don't think I disparaged the idea of a nuclear family either. It sounds like you're saying that the traditional nuclear family is the only way to raise children in a healthy environment. I don't think that's true at all. I'm testament to the fact that a single parent can raise a healthy and well-adjusted child just fine. Many societies, both past and present, raise children in small communities where kids identify with many parental figures. Family is what we make it.
I am suggesting that we get rid of many of the incentives and downright privilege that the state provides to married couples. It's a better definition of equality than "let's elevate couples of any sexual orientation above single citizens". I admitted that the incentives given to unions were for a reason, and that I don't know the history very well. I'd like someone to address whether we still need these or whether we can discard them in the pursuit of a more equitable society for all.
I may sound like a young internet nerd with starry-eyed idealism. But I'm actually quite cynical. I know that the ideas in this post are more than unlikely to happen. But I think the way to battle cynicism is by trying to move towards a more positive truth. And one thing we need to do in order to see real change is try and reduce the number of things we see as absolutes that can't change. That's what I'm trying to do here.
Finally. I'm also not a bachelor. I'm 31 and engaged to be married later this year. We plan to have children and raise them in the way you and others think is the "only" way. That's the way I prefer. But I know it's not the only way. Just like you know that being attracted to the opposite sex isn't the only way to find love and be happy in this life.
I'm not offended. I just wanted to clear the air a bit. It's totally fine if you disagree with me. But I think you've interacted with enough to know I'm not a crackpot and you can engage with me honestly. For instance, can you explain why the nuclear family is so critical? It's my understanding that in the scheme of history it's a relatively new concept.Mar 4, 2012
- Hello. I came to this post by backtracking from your more recent "What's the big deal?" -- which I think is very good, and I hope to find time to comment in more detail later.
I was more surprised to find you echoing my thoughts on this topic.
Marriage has important and specific meanings in many religions, most of which don't agree with each other on the specifics. It has a popular culture meaning involving love and romance. And then there's the actual marriage contract as defined by the state (which also varies by government). In the US, that contract is largely financial. On an intellectual level, I see this as a problem because people are typically focused on one of the first two meanings and don't give enough thought to what they're getting into legally and financially. On an emotional level, I absorbed the idea early in life that marriage is an unequal relationship between a man and a woman, and that a woman loses some of her rights or perceived value by entering into it. (I feel compelled, at this point, to emphasize that it was not my parents' relationship that gave me this impression, although my Mother's experiences did play into it. She was born in 1928, and a lot has changed since she was a young woman -- although not enough, and not everywhere in the world.) It does not help that some people are still getting press quoting "women should submit to their husbands" with no apparent irony.
I hadn't thought about this much for a long time, and it was some rhetoric over gay marriage that got me thinking about it again. I fully support extending the right to marry to same-sex couples. I might even be willing to marry if I were lucky enough to find the right person, but I'd be a lot happier if I could legally declare that person to be my family in a way that didn't carry so much oppressive baggage for me. (Ironically, same-sex marriage doesn't have this sort of baggage for me, so I'm probably more okay with that on a gut level. This is no doubt a minority view.) In my ideal world, we'd have some way of doing that, and marriage as a church- or community-sponsored concept would be entirely separate. Most people would probably do both, and at about the same time, but some might choose to do only one or the other.
As far as the prospect for making changes to the legal structure, I don't expect to see marriage phased out as a state-sponsored institution in the US any time soon. And I don't know what the implications would be for couples who enter into a partnership here and then travel or move abroad. One of the huge differences between marriage and domestic partnership in the US is that a marriage in one US state is recognized in all 50. That puts a lot of inertia into the system. If there are similar agreements or conventions between nations, that adds even more. Probably more salient, though, is that many of the people arguing most vehemently over marriage seem to want the government to enforce their particular view of what marriage is -- usually religiously-motivated.Mar 25, 2012