Cross-posted from lgbtSr.com
A panel of judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has determined that California’s infamous Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
A funny thing happened on the way to equality: friends and relatives began to whisper that our relationship was on shaky ground, that something was amiss, because we had not yet gone to City Hall or at least set a date and chosen a pattern. Now that we can marry in New York, what possible reason other than a disintegrating partnership could we have for not declaring our love in front of an audience, complete with signed marriage license to wave at the world proclaiming that we are, at last, just as good as the rest of them?
This is an exaggeration, of course. Most people who know my partner Frank and I are not worried we’ll be filing for divorce any time soon. Oh, wait . . . we’re not married. Nor, I’ve discovered, are most of the other gay couples I know. And to add to that shock – they don’t have any immediate plans to marry! What is going on here? Have we not accepted that marriage is the Holy Grail, and that we cannot be said to love one another fully and completely until we join the wedded ranks?
While I’m firmly in the full equality camp, my thinking on marriage has fluctuated. Ten years ago I considered marriage a bourgeois property rights issue that was pushing out other, greater concerns like access to healthcare and affordable housing. While I still think those issues are being overshadowed, I came to see the great benefits of the protections that marriage provides. I also, once it was available, desired it as a symbol. But I still keep my distance from the sobbing crowds and couples falling on their knees in jubilation at every seeming marriage victory. I never needed the state to validate my relationship, and I still don’t.
Now that we can marry, I expect us to begin to feel the social and familial pressures to do just that. And I will resist them. The same rebellious spirit in me that had me coming out at 16 in a small Indiana city (1974) compels me to react to the assumption that we must marry because we can with the same defiance: we’ll do what we damned well please, and while it’s great that we have the right (that’s really what it’s about for me, having the freedom to marry, or not), it’s also quite fine if we don’t exercise it. Next up for conversation at the Thanksgiving dinner table: so when are you going to have kids?