I Am Married
I keep hearing how allowing gays to marry threatens marriage. Fine. Someone tell me how my marriage is directly threatened by two men marrying or two women marrying. Does their marriage make my marriage less legal? Does their love somehow compromise the love I feel for my wife, or she for me? Is the direct consequence of their marriage that my marriage and the commitment therein is manifestly lessened, compromised or broken? And if the answer to these questions is “no,” as it is, exactly how is marriage threatened?
I am part of a normal married couple. My wife and I have been married almost nine years. We have a child. We own a home. We pay our taxes and we live our lives in the midst of friends and family. Every day we tell each other that we love each other before we go to work. Every day we come home (well, she comes home, I work here) and spend our evening together as a family. Over the mantel hangs the picture you see with this entry. We are immersed in the fact that we are married to each other; it’s unavoidable. But that’s the wrong word to use because we don’t avoid it, and wouldn’t wish to. We embrace it. I don’t think there’s a day that goes by where I don’t have cause to be reminded how much better my life is for being married. This is what being married is.
If this very-married state of matrimony is not in the slightest bit threatened by two men getting married or two women getting married, how can the “institution” of marriage be threatened? The institution of marriage lies in the union of souls; to discuss marriage in general without acknowledging that it exists because of marriages in particular is a pointless exercise. If no single marriage is directly affected by two men or two women getting married — if I and my neighbors and my family and friends and even my enemies are still well-ensconced in our individual marriages to our spouses — how is the institution of marriage harmed? No harm has come to its constituents, who are the institution.
Oh, some of those who are married are insulted, or upset, or shocked or saddened or just generally feel less special, burdened with the knowledge that somewhere a man may marry a man and a woman may marry a woman. But those are feelings. The facts of their marriage — the legal and social benefits that accrue — are unchanged for them if two men walk down the aisle, or if two women do the same.
I’ve been looking at the pictures of the men and women getting married at San Francisco’s City Hall in the last week, and I think it’s interesting that in so many of the pictures, the couples coming out the City Hall imbue their marriage certificates with a significance heterosexual couples hardly ever do. I have a California marriage certificate too, as it happens. I remember reading it, I remember signing it. I know we’ve got it filed away somewhere. These couples won’t file their certificates away. They’re going to hang them above the mantel, pretty much in the same place and in the same manner I have that picture above. These people want to be married with a hunger that you only get from being denied something others have to the point of it being commonplace. I feel like I need to go and find my marriage certificate and give it a good long look: Something so easily provided me, so precious to someone else. I suspect they are treating their certificates in a manner more appropriate.
On what grounds do I as a married person tell others who want to be married that they are undeserving of the joy and comfort I’ve found in the married state? What right do I have morally to say that I deserve something that they do not? If I believe that every American deserves equal rights, equal protections and equal responsibilities and obligations under the law, how may I with justification deny my fellow citizens this one thing? Why must I be required to denigrate people I know, people I love and people who share my life to sequester away a right of mine that is not threatened by its being shared? Gays and lesbians were at my wedding and celebrated that day with me and my wife and wished us nothing less than all the happiness we could stand for the very length of our lives. On what grounds do I refuse these people of good will the same happiness, the same celebration, the same courtesy?
I support gay marriage because I support marriage. I support gay marriage because I support equal rights under the law. I support gay marriage because I want to deny those who would wall off people I know and love as second-class citizens. I support gay marriage because I like for people to be happy, and happy with each other. I support gay marriage because I love to go to weddings, and this means more of them. I support gay marriage because my marriage is strengthened rather than lessened by it — in the knowledge that marriage is given to all those who ask for its blessings and obligations, large and small, until death do they part. I support gay marriage because I should. I support gay marriage because I am married.
I am married. I would not be anything else. I wish nothing less for anyone who wishes the same.