Thursday, May 28, 2009

Does Gay Marriage Matter?

On Tues, May 26, Californians got disappointing, if expected news. The state's supreme court ruled in favor of the voter approved ban on gay marriage. As a liberal, I've been inspired by feminist and gay liberation writers. What is marriage, I thought, but sexual imperialism? I've been uncomfortable with an institution that seems primarily economic, and that involves one person becoming the personal possession of another, right down to the name change. Granted, I wasn't necessarily a sought after guest as my friends and relative got married in the 1980's. In addition to the imperialistic aspects of marriage, it seemed to me like an incredible stress factor in a relationship, and cost a good deal of money that might be better spent as a down payment on a house.

In the 1990's, I was best man at my brother's wedding. I was also best man for my best friend in a holy union service performed by my father. I never cried at a wedding; I was usually nervous. In those two instances, I was in a cold sweat about my duties arranging the bachelor party and giving an appropriate toast.

Like gays in the military, gay weddings aren't a really a part of my life. As a pacifist, I wondered why anyone would join the military. A wise friend explained to me that the military was the only option for many rural and southern youths that didn't have the middle class background I had, and whose only recourse was to join the military. It was the only way that many could get a higher education. Seen in that light, the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy is cruel to people who are trying to better their lives.

Several years back, on a sleepless night, I surfed late night television and found a show on gay weddings. Most of them were, to me, boring and predictable. One, however, was so touching i actually cried. Two Jewish lesbians were actually happy at their wedding, at least, so it seemed on TV. The thing that seemed missing from previous weddings was--- joy. In photo albums of relatives, most seem nervous or fearful even for their wedding pictures. Then there is the photo of my great-grandparents. The camera caught a certain look in their eyes, the happy confluence of lust and love. Call it joy.

There is nothing like forbidding something that makes people want it more. I'm not in the age bracket for marriage, and my circumstances are such that a wedding is remote. I've read that after age thirty five, you're more likely to be attacked by a terrorist than to get married. So I won't get married. So I won't join the military. Maybe marriage is an imperialistic institution. Maybe love alone should be what keeps people together, a la Sartre and de Beauvoir. But California's ban on future gay marriage is simple discrimination, organized by some small minds with deep pockets. And telling me I can't have it only makes me want it more.

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