Heterosexual marriage, too!

gay marriage — It's a burning question throughout the country: Should gay couples who live together and truly care about each other be allowed to get legally married? This issue directly affects the Family Court, since gay marriages would inevitably lead to gay divorces, some of which could be just as nasty as the heterosexual kind. If nothing else, it will increase our caseload.

As an activist in the Family Court, I feel it is important to take a firm stand: I am opposed to gay marriage.

Throughout the country, outraged voters are working at a grassroots level to ban the marriage of homosexuals through ballot referenda and agressive lobbying of their lawmakers. I believe these initiatives don't go far enough.

I want to ban marriage altogether.

My message to loving gay couples: Why would you want to screw up a perfectly good relationship? Heterosexuals have been doing it for generations. Haven't you learned anything?

For so many couples, of whatever persuasion, "'til death do you part" is the beginning of the death of the relationship. Some marriages end years later in divorce and other limp along in a nebulous state that I call latent divorce (a divorce that hasn't happened yet).

The essential danger of marriage is the public declaration that your love is permanent. Once you declare this in a public contract, then you lose the incentive to defend and evaluate the relationship every day. If you don't get married and still choose to stay together, that is "true love"—or at least love of a relatively pure form. If you are married and stay together, you never really know. Is true love guiding your actions, or is it just the force of all the contracts and obligations you have fallen into?

Look at all that community property holding you down! Love tends to get lost among all that stuff.

I believe that the government should stay out of the bedroom—completely. I don't believe that one man and one woman should be given a special legal status just because that claim to be in love. What is this "in love," and what business does the government have in deciding what it should mean?

Should the government be sanctioning any lifelong contract? It is okay if you want to say this to each other in private: "I'll love you forever." It's a precious Hallmark Moment and the kind of goofy thing lovers often say to each other, like "BILL AND JANE FOREVER" carved in a tree trunk. I believe that the government shouldn't be interfering in the natural evolution of these things—which is inevitably that the tree outlives the original sentiments.

On occasion, love can continue for a lifetime, but it is a different love at the end than what you started with at the beginning, and it doesn't seem wise to restrain it with a governmental contract.

The gay marriage controversy is an opportunity to reexamine our values. What good is marriage anyway? It was invented for an earlier time when there was no birth control and sexual intercourse inevitably created children who needed to be cared for. Back in those days, people didn't live very long, so "'Til Death Do You Part." was roughly equivalent to "the next 20 years." Now it can be 50 or 60 years, and maybe without any kids.

If anything, the government has an obligation to protect its citizens from themselves. Should people be allowed to enter into 50-year contracts based on some hormonal affliction? It is just like the government trying to protect us from addictive drugs. (It is a futile effort perhaps, since the temptations are so high, but we have to try.)

Because marriage is barred to them in most states, gay couples have had to do things differently—and maybe better. Instead of accepting the whole marriage package at once—as heterosexuals can do in two drunken hours in Vegas—they have had to come up with creative, thoughtful solutions to address specific needs. Child rearing, insurance, wills and community property have all been addressed adequately by gay couples—in deliberate ways that are tailored to the need. Sure, they don't yet have the sanction of the government, but do they really want it?

"Gay marriage," as it now exists, is a model that heterosexual couples should consider, rather than gays trying to follow the hetero one.

Marriage has certain technical benefits, but gay couples have shown that they can be adequately handled outside of marriage.

  1. A ring on your finger. The ring says to others, "I'm taken." If you are currently obsessed with one person, it is perfectly reasonable to want to keep other potential suitors at bay, and a ring is the accepted flag for this. You don't need the sanction of marriage to put on a ring. If you are currently obsessed with each other, then get each other a ring right now. It doesn't have to mean that you are going to get married. It is just a flag to the world that says "taken." To the two of you, it can mean anything you want, and you can always take it off if you need to.

  2. Unity for raising children. If you and your partner choose to raise children together, you may think marriage is necessary, but the reasons don't hold up well under inspection. If you are the birth parents, then you both remain legally obligated to raise the child, with or without marriage. If you choose to adopt, then it is more complicated, since initial adoptions don't usually recognize two unmarried parents. However, the gay community, frustrated as they are in this venue, has found solutions. Some gay couples do a second-parent adoption, which gives both partners legal parenting rights. The same can be done by unmarried heterosexual couples.

    Although some kind of formal contract may be important, the whole marriage package may not do anything to improve the environment for raising children, especially if the marriage deteriorates internally. Probably what is more important is the flexibility of the relationship to adapt to unforeseen events.

  3. Legacy rights. If you are married and either spouse dies, all of their property goes to the other partner without the need for a will. The same can be accomplished for unmarriage couples by written will.

  4. Health insurance benefits. This is a big problem if one partner has access to employer health insurance and the other does not. You may need to be married before the other partner can be covered. The gay community is working on this.

  5. Community property. Why the hell do you need community property? I got a really big problem with all this useless stuff that couples of any persuasion tend to collect around themselves. If someone buys something with their own income, it should be theirs—to keep or, more importantly, to throw away. Only the house is an issue—if you have to sign on it jointly to obtain financing. Everything else is either "mine" or "yours" depending on who bought it. When unmarried couples break up, there are usually conflicts over who owns what, but it gets worked out, usually without any lawyers or court proceedings.

    Too much community property may be a sign of the "over-merging" of the relationship. Everyone needs to maintain their identity, even within a committed relationship, and separating my stuff from yours is an important part of this identity.

    When there is a need for community property, it can be handled as a special transaction. Gay couples can buy houses together, as can unmarried heterosexuals and business partners with no romantic affiliation. It is a simple property transaction with ownership defined explicitly in the initial contract. If any disputes arise (which are rare), they would be handled in civil court based on that object and transaction alone. Why should Family Court be involved?


11/28/05: Gay LV couple encourage adoption

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