Commentary 07 Jul 2011 03:08 pm
This week’s column from The Review:
Do you think any married New Yorkers woke up on the morning of June 25 and found that their wedding rings disappeared during the night?
After all, the sun rose that Saturday morning for the first time on a state where same-sex marriage had been approved by the Legislature, a move that opponents long feared would destroy the sanctity of the union between man and woman.
But it didn’t. Instead, the planet kept spinning and people in New York, like people everywhere else, kept marrying, loving, drinking, smoking, belching, traveling, divorcing, and watching lame reality shows like “The Voice” in the same numbers as they always had. (Well, maybe more people watched “The Voice,” but only because it was the big finale episode, not because it received any ratings shot in the arm from the legalization of same-sex marriage.)
In other words, New York survived. Ohio will, too, as will the rest of the United States when people finally warm up to the idea that when two consenting adults love one another enough to put up with piles of clipped fingernails on the bedroom dresser, shoe fetishes, Emmett Kelley clown collections, the music of Grand Funk Railroad or toilet seats left permanently up, they ought to be allowed to legitimize the relationship regardless of gender.
It’s not an issue of morality, it’s an issue of humanity.
Some of the nicest couples I know are same-sex. Their relationships could teach many of us heterosexuals a thing or two about mutual respect, monogamy and communication.
Instead, they are vilified as the harbingers of End Times, as if the same God (if you believe in that sort of thing) who hardwired them to be attracted to people of the same gender (if you believe in that sort of thing) would then punish them — and us — for having the temerity to demand that their relationships be validated in the same way as “everybody else” (if you believe in that sort of thing).
I don’t know about you, but it’s easier not to believe in a higher power at all than to believe in one who subscribes to the same sort of knee-jerk, reward/punishment school of philosophy as conservative talk show hosts.
As for destroying the sanctity of marriage, we heterosexual couples have done a fine job of that on our own. In Ohio, for example, 11 percent of men and 13 percent of women are divorced, according to the Pew Research Center. This is higher than the national divorce averages of 9 and 12 percent, respectively, with no help from the gay community.
But will those rates climb higher if gay marriage is allowed in Ohio? I don’t know, but my guess is no. Same-sex couples will likely divorce at the same rates as other married couples because they are exactly like other married couples, with the exception of their sexual orientation. Data on same-sex divorce rates is hard to come by because same-sex marriages, until relatively recently, have been hard to come by.
I, for one, would like to see President Obama stop pussyfooting around the issue and endorse same-sex marriage from his bully pulpit in the White House. He doesn’t because it would cost him more conservative votes than he would gain in liberal followers, who really don’t have another horse in the presidential race, anyway. Elections are a numbers game, after all.
Obama’s verbal gymnastics (he says his views are “evolving”) are especially unfortunate because a firm declaration would go a long way toward legitimizing the struggle for millions of gays who supported him in the last election and who continue to hope his empathy for oppression might be greater than other candidates’ because of his background.
Politics aside, the battle continues. Someday, we may live in a nation where same-sex marriages have not disappeared, but where the expression has. In its place will be the only word really necessary to convey love and commitment between two consenting adults — “marriage.”