Monday, June 28, 2004 - Apache Junction, Arizona, USA


Jo Ann Citron brought up a good point concerning marriage in the March/April issue of The Gay & Lesbian Review. She views marriage as a “regressive institution that has never been good to women.” How many of us who are striving to make marriage legal for gays have thought about that? Even as a historian, I hadn't considered that fact.

For many years, up to and including today, marriages were arraigned. The father made a deal and his daughter, with no choice in the matter, was married to whoever was chosen for whatever the reason. The wife was considered the property of the husband, to do with as he pleased. In many cultures men were allowed more than one wife, or at least allowed to have as many concubines to augment his wife as he desired. The submission of married women to her husband is recognized by no less authority than the Bible itself. In some cultures women are forced to walk behind their husbands or wear veils over their faces. The idea that men own their wives still survives today, even in America.

Women instigate more than 75% of today’s divorces. That’s a staggering figure that you might not be aware of. In studies, single women are found to be happier than married women. While the reasons for this can be highly individual, the modern shift to two parent careers seems to weigh heavily on married women. Not only are married women responsible for their jobs, when they get home they have the responsibility of the house and children. Since inflation has made it almost impossible for a family to exist on one income, married women have become increasingly unhappy with the role they’re left with in today’s family.

When you consider the above, perhaps marriage isn’t what gays and lesbians should be striving to attain. But if not marriage, what? Can we define what we really want? Equality?

It is unfortunate that marriage is both a civil and a religious institution. In our country where church and state issues are kept relatively separate, marriage is an oddity. Each state has the right to make laws concerning at what age and to whom a person may or may not take as a partner. Each state issues licenses to make that partnership contractual. Each state requires either a civil or religious ceremony presided over by an official of the state or authorized church representative and witnessed by family or citizens.

The question becomes, why can’t the states simply issue their licenses to individuals who meet state standards? This way, if people (including straights) prefer a civil union over a church marriage they could have what they want. Both would include equal rights under the law, such as portability from state to state as well as federal tax and estate concessions. Civil authorities would be allowed to preside over ceremonies for any couple with a license. Marriage would be left to the churches. Religious institutions could marry whomever they please, at the discretion of individual churches or denominations. Or their ministers could preside over state civil unions if their denomination allow it.

There would have to be some paperwork changes as well. The words “married” and “spouse” would disappear from job applications and tax forms with appropriate terms being substituted. But all-in-all, this would not be a major problem to institute.

If such a system were in place, could two lesbians partnered under civil union say they were married? Of course they could. We do it now. What’s important is who the states and the federal government recognize as being partnered.

The problem is NOT that people want to force civil unions on gays and lesbians. The problem IS that those same people want to continue giving greater federal and state rights to those allowed to marry. This is what’s discriminatory and must be eradicated by law.

I can’t understand the rationale of elected officials who support that stance.

©2004 Marcia Ellen "Happy" Beevre

# posted by Marcia Ellen @ 1:21 PM
Hi Marcia; Great post. Something about it though, kept me rereading and you ask why the state can't just issue licences to those who meet the standards.

Well, I think it's safe to say for most open minded people that this makes perfect sense. It is whether or not the Federal gov't is willing to admit that gays and lesbians do meet the "standards". Would that not leave Bush's government wide open to "caving" into gay marriages? Just a thought.

I'm not against us marrying, but something about it bothers me. I think it might be the word. It doesn't belong to us somehow.

I'm not saying what I mean to say here, sorry. I'll come back to this when I am more caffinated.

This post sure is making me think, though.

I like the way you think, Donna. I'll look for you after your cuppa!! :) Thanks for dropping by!!
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