A Straight Man’s Thoughts on Gay Marriage

12 11 2008

After Prop 8 passed in California, I had strong feelings of anger, sadness, and depression. I struggled to comprehend that over 5.6 million people in California saw me as a second-class citizen. Although I knew others were in the same predicament as I was, I still felt as though my wife, Julie, and I were all alone. After attending a gathering to discuss the passing of Prop 8 at the San Diego LGBT Center, I began to feel a little better and have some hope.

Something else that tremendously helped me shift my focus from those who voted for the proposition to those 5.1 million (plus) people who voted NO on Prop 8 was Brian, one of my coworkers. Brian is a married, straight man, with a beautiful two-year-old daughter. Brian and I had several discussion on various topics, including the true purpose of a constitution, marriage as a whole, love, religion, same-sex marriages, and struggles for rights in U.S. history. Through all of these discussions, I began to feel hope and a growing pride in those who stand with us in our struggle.

In my Nested Lez column in this month’s edition of The Lavender Lens, I highlighted a portion of an email that Brian had written to a coworker about marriage. Below, the text of that email is presented in its entirety.

The reason I’m emailing this is so that people who might overhear don’t jump to conclusions about me and my marriage, as seems to be the case quite often.

Marriage is a holy and sacred thing.  It is a union that transcends law, or it should be.  Yet, the divorce rate is more than 50 percent in this country.

In a way, that’s actually a good thing.  Why remain in a failing or, worse, abusive marriage?  The problem is not marriage as an institution; the problem is people’s willingness to jump into marriage without proper thought, time, and reason.

My marriage is a case in point.  Missy and I got engaged within two weeks of meeting.  We were legally wed within 48 hours of deciding to go down to the courthouse and get it over with.  If we had not acted so impulsively on April 24th, 2000, we would not be married today, for better or worse.

That’s an extreme example, of course, but how many people act on less extreme, but equally ill-thought-out impulses?  They succumb to the thrill of the proposal and the lure of the wedding and honeymoon.  They see their future spouse through the eyes of excitement, enchantment, and hope.  How many of these people discovered, after months or years of marriage, that they committed themselves – in the eyes of both God and law – to someone they didn’t really know?  How many children have been born to unhappy people who were beholden to a legal union, either due to their own morals or their own fear of dissolving the marriage?  How many men and women have been abused, verbally and/or physically, due to their haste?  And how many of the 46 percent or so of the marriages that don’t end in divorce are actually happy and loving, particularly past the first few years?

These questions lead to a point.  When gay marriage became legal, most of the people who took advantage of its legality were couples who had been together for years, some even decades.  These were time-tested relationships that had gone through the good, the bad, and the ugly and endured.  Long engagements, of a sort.  I read somewhere last year that the average gay couple who had gotten legally married had been together for six years.  Six years!  If these unofficial unions had lasted that long, one can only imagine how much lower the divorce rate would be among their numbers.  So many marriages don’t make it past three years.

Yet, these are the marriages that are soon possibly to be illegal and thought by many to be immoral.  In the meanwhile, thousands of other people will jump into marriage, and a huge chunk of them will find themselves resentful, mistreated, sad, trapped, abused, and/or divorced.

Marriage is a beautiful thing, and, by coincidence of our own slow evolution, gay marriage in the state of California could have set an example for how all marriages should proceed.

Thank you Brian for those words of love, understanding, and support. I hope that through our legal system or through peaceful demonstrations and a new ballot proposition that we will be able to overturn Prop 8 and set the example that Brian mentions at the end of his message.

At the time of this writing, all same-sex marriages performed in California during the period following the Supreme Court ruling until the November 4, 2008 election are still valid (according to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown). Those marriages may be challenged in court and I will try to keep you posted on their status.

Although the election is over, the battle for equal rights (that’s right, not “special rights” or “gay rights,” but “equal rights“) will continue on. Please get involved. For more information, visit the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Equality California, the ACLU, your local LGBT community center, or any of the other resources available.



One response

15 12 2008
social emotional aspects learning

social emotional aspects learning…

As an example, Schubert cited Proposition 22, which California voters approved in 2000. The Field Poll showed the gay marriage ban– overturned in May by the state Supreme Court– was backed by 53 percent of voters right before the election. But when…

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