Sunday, November 16, 2008

If Everybody's Got the Right to Love, Why the Hell Can't They Get Married?

"The right to marry whoever one wishes is an elementary human right compared to which ‘the right to attend an integrated school, the right to sit where one pleases on a bus, the right to go into any hotel or recreation area or place of amusement, regardless of one’s skin or color or race’ are minor indeed. Even political rights, like the right to vote, and nearly all other rights enumerated in the Constitution, are secondary to the inalienable human rights to 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence; and to this category the right to home and marriage unquestionably belongs." - HANNAH ARENDT, 1959.

Yesterday, protests against California's Proposition 8 and in favor of same-sex marriages were held in over three hundred cities throughout the world. And according,this sychronized protest -- which attracted both gay and straight protesters opposed to Proposition 8, was a grassroots pheonoemon spearheaded by Seattle-based activist Amy Balliett, who developed a special social networking site, Join the Impact, that provided the impetus to help mobilize grassroots volunteers to corrodinate protests worldwide on November 15.

And when you consider the argument advanced by the supporters of Proposition 8, that they insist they do not oppose the right of gays and lesbians to have basic legal protections under the law, consider this scenario:

A gay couple have been together for forty years without the blessed assurance of the clergy. Then suddenly, one partner in this union dies. And though they planned and prepared for every contingency, what they did not anticipate was the disrespect and utter disregard for their forty-year commitment to each other. And then there's the family that didn't approve of their relationship from the get-go, going as far as to bar him from attending the funeral and kicking him out of their shared home.

Until you have been treated as sub-human, it's hard to understand and to appreciate how it feels for one to be treated in that manner.

Think about that when you next hear that contracts and papers are enough and marriage isn't sacred or right for these people. To look straight into the eyes of so many people, sensing and realizing their gnawing pain of experiencing a life that felt incomplete, and to be told by our own government and by many within our society that they are somehow second-class citizens and somehow less than human, can be a devastating experience.

What's even more devastating still is that we as a nation are losing our best and brightest to a nation north of our border. Performance artist Tim Miller was forced to move to Canada because his Australian (read: non-American) life partner was not allowed to stay in the U.S. with him. So they chose to move to Canada to share a life together as one, matrimony or no matrimony. If this trend continues, you can see quite a few more moving northward as time progresses.

It is not same-sex marriages that are a threat to the integrity of the institution. The threat itself comes from those who abuse that institution -- from Britney Spears, who married a guy for fifty-something hours before finally getting an annulment, to the Bill McGeeveys and the Larry Craigs of this world who live in denial about their true selves and superimpose a alternate reality on their lives via sham marriages. To celebrities like Lana Turner, Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland who engaged in sequental monogany with 7-8 spouses, to the polygamists who think that having multiple wives kept barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen would be the road to eternal salvation. And particularly those self-loathing closet cases like David Dreier whose internalized self-hate manifests itself in such repressive legislation like the "Defense of Marriage Act."

As for myself, I am a 51-year-old confirmed bachelor. Never have married, never will. Childless, and child-free. At least I can sleep peacefully at night knowing I don't have to worry about prenuptual agreements, paying the child support and alimony on time, or even if my birth control failed.

Regrettably, for some, the nightmare seems never-ending.

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