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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

May 08, 2012
In Passing

Personally, I think that if your marriage stands or falls based on whether or not two other people are allowed to get married? The problem is in your marriage, not theirs.

Posted by AnneZook at 12:40 PM


Comments

It's not about the vulnerability of a marriage itself, but about the vulnerability of the category "marriage" -- and I know I shouldn't be defending them, but the way you put the question actually clarified something for me -- from what seems to them an overbroad definition. It's a bit like the powerful defensive reaction I have towards Jews for Jesus, or the "are Mormons Christians" question.

That said, I don't see any benefit in trying to legislate restrictions on "Messianic Jews" calling themselves Jewish or taking away Mormon tax exemptions... in fact, I see quite a bit of harm in trying to define these things and restrict them officially. Cognitive dissonance and linguistic chaos are historical realities, often signs of important change.

Posted by: Ahistoricality at May 8, 2012 08:58 PM

Sometimes when you read something, it does clarify your own thoughts, yes. I'm glad you had that experience yourself.

As far as your post goes--you're now seeing "marriage" is a category of thing, just as a religion is?

A category of thing--a sort of club that some people feel possessive about and entitled to not only lay claim to but define the rules for and dictate membership in.

What appeared to be just irrational homophobia makes more sense that way, yes.

Sad to say, it doesn't make the objectors sound any more intelligent or mature.

I've belonged to a number of "clubs" in my life--when you define a "club" as a category of activity or lifestyle that you have chosen for yourself. These clubs all evolved over time and not always into something I necessarily approved of. At that point, I had the choice of staying or going.

Regardless of which I chose, I can say that I never made a public move* to block anyone else's access to a club just because they had different beliefs about it than I did.

I mean, that's the sort of thing you'd do when you were eight.

Adults should be a bit more sensible about accepting that life contains many paths and many of us are not sharing the same ones.

____________

* Okay, aside from some bitching and moaning, but that's just me. Mostly I just like to complain about almost anything.

Posted by: Anne at May 9, 2012 05:07 PM

Marriage is a lot of things: it's a legal status, an emotional and social relationship, a stage of life (for some people, multiple stages of life), a financial entanglement, a sacramental ritual, a sexual relationship and/or a limitation on sexual relationships.

This is why talking about it is so damned complicated: in any conversation of two or more people, odds are there are several different definitions of marriage at work. And they aren't entirely separate things, either....

But to get back to my main point.... for adherents of the patriarchal family/sex model (I hate to call them "conservatives" or "traditionalists" when neither is really true), there are about three categories of sex acts: sanctioned marital relations; relations that could be sanctioned by marriage, but without sanction; abominations. Same-sex marriage is a huge paradigm shift for people who can't even concieve of legitimating unsanctioned but sanctionable relations.

Posted by: Ahistoricality at May 9, 2012 08:27 PM

Yes, this topic is unbelievable tangled. Semantically, the word "marriage" means so many different things, depending on what mouth it's coming out of.

As a liberal, my instinct is to think (which I have done) and then to err on the side of inclusion if in doubt.

At the same time, thanks to this conversation, I can now empathize with the emotional conflict that the "my marriage or no marriage" crowd must be feeling. Any sea-change in what "marriage" includes will require them to redefine their emotional territory, a very tough thing for most of us to do under the best of circumstances.

Also at the same time, I stand by my original post.

It's hard and it hurts, yes, and it's a change individually and for society as a whole, so turmoil on all sides, but making this step--growing in this way--is the right thing to do.

Posted by: Anne at May 10, 2012 11:13 AM