Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Kurt & Goldie

As you probably know, yesterday North Carolina voted to expressly bar civil union or marriage between same-sex couples.  There has been a lot of chatter and talk about this issue, so why not throw my hat into the fray? 

In a few weeks, my parents will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary and I will toast them.  Their marriage is an inspiring model for what marriage can be.  They work together, challenge each other, and act as a team.  They each bring a very unique perspective to the table, as they grew up in extremely different circumstances both in their geography and in family size and dynamics.

Despite growing up with this amazing model for a healthy marriage, I have never seen myself as a person who would get married.


As I say in my standup, I just can't wrap my brain around registering my love with the U.S. government, as one would register a car or a gun.  That isn't a joke--I simply cannot rationalize such a thing.  Would you ever register your relationship with your best friend?  When your co-worker goes from just being a fun co-worker to being a trusted friend, do you put that in writing?  No.  And nor does it seem logical to me to put a romantic relationship in writing.

Also, my "I'm not the marrying type" mindset has been influenced by the plight of many of my friends, because the personal is political.  I have a lot of wonderful gay friends and currently in 44 states of our country, they cannot get married.  They are denied entrance to a club that so many heterosexuals so easily  (and oftentimes, thoughtlessly and frequently) join.  Gays are often accused of leading lifestyles filled with frivolity and irresponsibility, yet when they attempt to "settle down" in the socially acceptable way, they are denied that, too. 

I grew up in a town outside of Boston that had two golf clubs: one for white Christian people and one for white Jewish people.  I can't speak to the Jewish country club, but I remember how and when the Christian country club finally desegregated.  I'm sure that pre-integration, so many of those white golf club members thought, "I'm not a racist!  I care about black people, plenty!  But have ya seen the 18 holes on this course?  I'll join whether or not other races are let in--the clubhouse is gorgeous!"  I just wish that the white members of this country club hadn't been so damn blinded by their own privilege and had thought about what their membership meant.  That by supporting and being a member of a club that patently excluded black people, they were condoning racism.  And that if they REALLY cared about other people and weren't racist, they never would have joined such a club in the first place.

And this is how I feel about marriage, for the most part.  For now, I don't want to be part of a club that rejects so many of my friends and hands out a legal contract for the registration of your love.  Perhaps these views will change, as I live in New York (where same-sex marriage is legal) and I hail from Massachusetts (where same-sex marriage was pioneered) so same-sex marriage is legal where I am.  But the notion of marriage still gives me pause.

I think we can take the wind out of the sails of marriage by not treating it like some magical contract anymore.  If you are in serious, committed relationship for life, decide how you will communicate that and navigate that on YOUR terms.  As a couple, just start wearing rings on your ring fingers.  Or don't.  Get matching tattoos.  Or don't.  Combine your last names and both legally change your name, if you like.  But do it on YOUR terms--not because the government says that this is the "right" way to do it.  Have a loving partnership and a lifelong relationship that YOU know is real, the government and official documentation be damned.


  1. Believe it or not, the N. Carolina amendment also bans any sort of civil union or domestic partnerships between heterosexual couples as well. gg North Carolina.

    The simplest thing is for the government to recognize a legal relationship between two people (different or same sex) and not call it marriage. Marriage is a religious construct. If people want to get "married," let them do it according to their faith. If their faith is one of the exclusive ones and doesn't allow gay marriage, well, to hell with that religion.

    But there IS an argument for registering a partnership/union with the government: it allows for proper disposition of assets in the event of death, or allows certain people to act on your behalf if you are incapacitated, etc. There are plenty of reasons for person X to designate person Y as someone that they are - for lack of a better word - hitched to. But we should be able to avoid all the hub-bub if we don't call it marriage. Then the righties shouldn't care that the concept of air-quotes "marriage" is being sullied, yet different sex and same sex people can still enjoy all the same rights.

    To be clear, I am NOT saying civil unions are equivalent of marriage. If the government is going by marriage, then it should allow marriage for straights and gays. I'm saying the government should abandon marriage altogether and create a legally-relevant-only construct that applies equally to gays and straights and leave "marriage" to the religious.

    1. To clarify your first paragraph-- so the N. Carolina amendment says that same-sex couples cannot marry, have a civil union, or a domestic partnership and heterosexual couples can ONLY marry, but not have a civil union or domestic partnership? Goodness this is multi-layered!

      I can see why "marriage" (or some sort of registering of relationship) can be important when a couple is having kids, making large investments, or deathly ill. So I can understand why some couples get into it with, respect to those things. I, personally, still can't wrap my brain around drawing up papers to formalize love. But I think that if I were in a life-long relationship and was on my deathbed, I'd want some way to ensure that my partner get all my stuff when I'm gone.

      I agree with your last paragraph, especially. A smart solution (that will never actually happen) would be to have government in the business of contracts and registration (as you would a car), whatever the couple may be. And religious institutions can decide the types of couples they approve of.