Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Traditional Marriage"

Instead of rehashing what you could certainly read many other places on the internet today regarding yesterday's Supreme Court hearing of Hollingsworth v. Perry, I thought I'd give you my personal perspective on yesterday's arguments.  Specifically, something that I heard a great deal of from the petitioner's attorney, Charles Cooper.  Traditional marriage.

Now, for the life of me, I don't can't understand how allowing same-sex couples to be married is redefining marriage.  Honestly, I don't.  And, the more I heard from Charles Cooper about this sacred and majestic institution of marriage, the more I wondered whether Charles Cooper had ever met or talked to actual people who are married or...better yet, people who have been divorced.  For example, Cooper insists that the government has a compelling interest in defining marriage as between a man and a woman for the sake of possible unplanned children because...
"Your Honor, society's interest in responsible procreation isn't just with respect to the procreative capacities of the couple itself.  The marital norm, which imposes the obligations of fidelity and monogamy, Your Honor, advances the interests in responsible procreation by making more likely that neither party, including the fertile party to that..."
And this point Cooper's little monologue gets interrupted by several of the Justices, but he continues a minute or two down the road with...
"It's designed, Your Honor, to make it less likely that either party to that marriage will engage in irresponsible procreative conduct outside of that marriage..."
He goes on about how the magical institution of marriage assures that committed opposite-sex couples won't fool around outside of marriage and then the men and women who responsibly procreate together will stay together and be super duper responsible with those responsibly created children.  I mean, set aside that if same-sex couples are allowed to be parents too then government should have the same interest in assuring them a framework that allows for a responsible legal structure to support their families.

Let's just talk for a second about "traditional marriage".  The more I hear about traditional marriage the angrier it makes me and more that I think about what traditional marriage has meant to women all over the world.  Traditional marriage has been many things, but one thing that it has been over and over again is an exchange of property between a father and a husband-to-be.  That property is a woman and that attitude is responsible for the extremely sad state of women's rights around the world.  So I hope you'll excuse me when, every time I hear people argue for traditional marriage, all I can think about is the traditional place of a woman and the traditional role of a woman  and the traditional view of a woman as a piece of property that belongs first to her father and then to her husband and I wonder if that's worth fighting for.

I believe that two people who love each other and want to commit to each other for life should have the same legal status and benefits no matter what their genders.  Charles Cooper argued that if the government's interest isn't in children and we make marriage a genderless institution then the focus of marriage might shift from the production of children to the emotional desires of the married adults.  I fail to see how the emotional well-being of two adults is anything but a boon to the children that they may or may not have.

Hopefully today's arguments will make me happier.  There were definitely some great moments in the Prop 8 arguments, but Charles Cooper's tired and, frankly, ridiculous arguments just made me angry over and over again thinking about how a segment of America, an ever shrinking segment, is fighting so hard for a past that doesn't exist and to deny their fellow human beings the happy and fulfilled lives that they so deserve.  People are actually fighting to deny the rights of same-sex couples in order to not redefine an institution that, for centuries, has seen women as pieces of property.

Redefine marriage?  Yes.  Let's redefine the hell out of it.  Let's define marriage as the legal union of two adults who love each other enough to commit to a lifetime together.

Kids?  Kids are great and kids deserve two loving adults who have a committed relationship.  They don't need to be a man and a woman, but they should be two people who can show those kids what a loving and happy relationship looks like.  That's the tradition of marriage that I want to pass on to my son and I hope that's the tradition that we take this moment to create for all of our children.