This week, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, an abysmal law that President Clinton signed into being during his term. That was a dark night in the Clinton years.
I find it so interesting that a president who actually pushed the bounds of sexuality in daring to be a sexual being would approve something so narrow, but when men’s backs are against the wall, they do all sorts of despicable things, like start wars, bomb small villages, lambast a new “enemy”, and find other pathetic ways to assert their power. It hurts when you get kicked in the crotch.
In the same breath, the Supreme Court validated a California circuit court ruling that dismisses Proposition 8, which made same-sex marriage illegal in my home state. It’s over. Gay Californians can marry all they want now! My pride in Cali has been restored.
I am personally not a fan of marriage and I’m pretty sure that gay folks who are marrying under the constitution are setting themselves up for lots of headaches that, before recently, only heterosexuals had to deal with! If there was a silver lining, that was it.
But anyone who wants the headaches of marriage, divorce and all that goes with it should damn well have it. It’s clearly a human rights violation to say one set of couples can have their unions recognized by the state (I want no such witness to my love, which is highly personal) and therefore receive all of the financial perks that marriage affords them, not to mention hospital visitation rights, custody rights, and many other rights that no one blinks about when wedded heterosexuals lay claim.
The case that put DOMA on the Supreme Court docket was one in which a same-sex spouse was to pay upwards of $363,000 in estate taxes when her partner died. A married heterosexual would not have had to do so. That’s major financial support for being heterosexual and married. Really, that’s what it boils down to. The U.S. government supports people to marry, even if they marry and divorce a zillion times; because we, as a nation, uphold the nuclear family/monogamous-til-death ideal—yet most real people never manage to actually live that way. Ah, the irony.
It would take a serious reorganization of how we look at and “do” relationships to untangle ourselves from all this mess. What about people, like myself, who choose not to marry? What about people who want to be single? What about people who have multiple relationships? What about other family structures that don’t look like mom, dad, child? There are so many ways people create families.
In fact, I think that the L/G/B/T community has created some amazing family structures because so many of us had to, having lost our families of origin to homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. I am blessed to have an incredible extended family and those relationships are no less important to me than any other. Why do we want the nation state to put their stamp of approval on our personal relationships? It’s sort of barbaric and over-the-top Big Brother when you really think about it.
According to Marriage Equality (www.unmarried.org): “Over 1,300 federal laws and discriminatory practices by corporations result in single adults potentially paying over $1 million more for necessities such as taxes, housing, health insurance, and car insurance during their lifetimes than legally married counterparts.”
That sure puts it in perspective, doesn’t it? Marriage was founded as an economic institution designed to protect assets and it remains so today, even though marriage ceremonies have a lot of personal meaning for people. Whether or not the state is with you at the altar, you can have your love celebration.
The fact remains, that if we are going to have marriage at all—and privilege those who marry (which we do), then EVERY marriage must be recognized equally and every couple afforded the same rights. I still can’t believe there were four justices dissenting, given how obvious this fact is.
The tide is certainly changing, and it’s changing remarkably fast. Every bit counts. Today, I am happy that everyone can cash in on the benefits and privileges of marriage. I’m still waiting for the financial benefits of singlehood to materialize. None of us are free until all of us are.