Why Marriage Matters
I used to think gay marriage wasn’t really an issue – definitely the right to civil unions was important, the ability to contract with one another as straight couples do, and reap the appropriate benefits – but not marriage per se. After all, God’s approval and blessing doesn’t depend on man’s designation anyway – covenant is covenant, and the government’s recognition of that covenant is secondary at best.
I was wrong.
I realize now the subtle but soul-destroying message denying queer people the right to marry sends. I see how the refusal to allow even “official” societal validation and acceptance to a group of people – consenting adults who pay taxes and live legal and moral lives otherwise – relegates us to a sub-standard half-life in so many ways; always on the fringe of society, destined to be perceived as deviant and centrally flawed. It sullies our family lives, work lives, social lives, and most of all our self-perception as individuals and couples. This is what defines Prop 8 as a critical battleground in the fight for our rights and freedom.
As much as we hate to admit it at times, we are at our core communal creatures. We are not made to function as solo entities, but must be fundamentally connected to others around us in order to experience any quality of life. It’s not just a matter of loneliness – it’s a matter of life and death. Countless studies have shown the effects of rejection and isolation on the psyche, and it is even recognized in our legal punishment system as the ultimate deterrent.
It was a painfully short time ago that my previous marriage to a white man would have been illegal: I was four years old when that law was overturned; 1967 – less than a year before the death of Dr. King. The Lovings, the aptly named couple who fought the Virginia state law and won, didn’t fall in love to start a movement – but realized there was a bigger issue at stake. Would that Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon (the first same-sex married couple who had been together 50 years when they got married) could follow that relatively short path to victory, but this will, unfortunately, likely be a longer, harder battle. Not to be crude, but if it’s something a straight white male can’t see himself doing, it’s a harder sell to the powers that be – reality check.
Someday the queer community will have its Loving Day (June 12th, in honor of the decision), and be able to look back on three decades of legal victory (though the battle in hearts and minds will continue, as it does for interracial couples today). Until that day comes, we have to press on, against the tide of opinion, even under threat at times; because, as i’ve come to see of late: those who choose safety and comfort over justice can never know true freedom, as they live in a prison of their own making, locked from the inside.
Magenta could be described as a semi-anarchist queermergent Christ-follower who aspires to love and live with insane abandon, hopefully as a long-term member of Charlotte Abbey (charlotteabbey.wordpress.com).