Social conservatives are cheering in the Massachusetts since the citizen-initiated proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage was advanced by the legislature yesterday.
Which leaves many of us scratching our heads in puzzlement as we try to understand WHAT ON EARTH ARE THEY ARE SO WORRIED ABOUT? HOW does gay marriage affect your marriage? HOW will it destroy the fabric of our society? WHAT are the terrible consequences that we can anticipate if, in the end, the proposed constitutional amendment is not affirmed (as predicted on this blog yesterday)?
I have truly tried to understand (this is the goal of Cause and Effect World – to understand cause and effect). I have listened to a lot of social conservative talk radio. I have read a lot of social conservative blogs, websites, and other media. I have debated this issue on the Boston radio station WRKO 680AM with Todd Feinburg and callers, and none of them have offered anything more concrete than, “marriage is the foundation of our society, changing it will have a negative impact, to assume otherwise is naive.” Oh, and, “it isn’t a civil right, so we aren’t compelled to offer the right of marriage to gay couples.”
And those are the thoughtful ones. The crrrazy ones start talking about polygamy* and animals** and the conversation moves from puzzling to ‘unproductive.’
So, there is something that is perfectly obvious to them, but they can’t articulate. Most social libertarians and liberals I know throw up their hands and conclude that social conservatives are just doing that conservative thang they do – resist change. Remember when the church was against organ transplants? Well, they did come around on that eventually.
But, what if we take them at their word? What if their marriages will be somehow tarnished by gay marriage? How could it be? Here’s an idea…
A few weeks ago, a woman called a radio station and said that she had been married for 30 years, and that for some of those years, the marriage was very difficult, and that she had contemplated leaving her husband. She said that what got her through those times was her belief that marriage was sacred.
She didn’t say it, but the implication was clear that if marriage weren’t sacred, she would very likely have walked out. What she did say was that in her view, permitting gay marriage made the institution itself not sacred any more.
So, imagine if this is what is in the hearts of all of these folks. They are staying married not because they are happy, but because marriage is sacred. Maybe they have fallen out of love. Or, maybe they ‘had to get married’ in the first place. Or maybe their spouse has become unattractive, or even repellent to them. Maybe their spouse has become addicted to prescription pain pills, or gambling, or sports, or talk radio, or pornography. Maybe their spouse is drunk most of the time. Maybe their spouse is mean and nasty to them and/or the kids. Maybe their spouse has simply become someone they find boring or just vaguely irritating (think About Schmidt).
But, they stay in the marriage because it is sacred. It is their duty. It is the honorable, holy thing to do.
To them, because gay sex is repugnant, seems unnatural since children cannot result, and is specifically prohibited in the Bible, state sanctioned marriage of gay couples sullies the institution which, and this is the first key point, will make some people more likely to leave an unhappy marriage. And, here is the second key point, they can’t talk about this because it would reveal the sad state of their marriages. And, it would be revealed not only to us. It would be revealed to their spouses, their children, and, perhaps worst of all, to themselves.
So, we have to take them at their word. Divorce may increase as the result of gay marriage. But, in our society, do we limit the rights of a small group of adults because it may have a deleterious effect on the marriages of others? I, of course, say no. And, I do feel sorry for the conservatives who are trapped in unhappy marriages. But, as the child of parents who divorced after many years of an unhappy marriage, and having been divorced and now happily married, I say – get out of the unhappy marriage. It’s better for the kids, it’s better for the spouses. Yes, marriage is better. But, unhappily married may be worst. And, happily married is best.
* Polygamy – In general I am for as much freedom as possible, but this needs a lot of study because it’s a lot more complicated than two people. The legal issues are mind-boggling. From a moral perspective - if they are all adults, I don’t care. Just don’t suggest it to my husband!
** Animals can’t give consent. Get serious.