For better or for worse; and in support of same sex marriage
I am seduced by the gamble of free parking. I could buy a parking permit. But this way, each day, I have the opportunity for victory.
My favorite free parking spot is alongside a nursing home, not too far from campus. On the days when I leave before dark, I see a man standing beside a woman who is seated in a wheelchair. She is cocooned in stark-white blankets and bandages – so just the grey of her face shows. They both look off into the horizon – her blue eyes empty vessels, his weighty with sadness. Her hands are buried beneath her blanket; his are fists inside his pockets. They do not look at each other, they do not speak.
I believe they are married.
I often wonder when people say those words, “for better or for worse,” if they think about the worse – if they realize the worse will breeze in one day – like the wealthy Shylock coming for his pound of flesh.
The woman wears the same expression my grandmother wore in those last years. My grandmother’s eyes were vacant pools – seated at the bedside of a dying husband she no longer knew. I remember my grandparents seeming all at once alone and united – she is her world, he, clinging to the edge of ours. Sixty years before they had made a promise to each other, and against all odds, against all oddities – they remained together. Family chosen. Wed.
It’s this bond that is inspiring, breathtaking and horrifying -- to no longer know the face of the father of your children – and yet to feel the gravitational pull to his bedside – and to refuse to go anywhere else.
The desire to pick our mate – to choose a tribe, burns deep at the center of us, somewhere between belly-button and spine. It’s more than desire, though, isn’t it? It’s instinct. It’s the compass that tells us to find a partner, build a home, raise a family and stand as one with the people we love – caring for them when they are ill, standing watch when they lie down to die.
This is why I believe same sex marriage should be legal.
To deny someone something so basic, to me, seems far more against nature than having sex with someone of the same gender. To not legalize such a partnership is not only unjust, but inhumane.
I have yet to hear an argument against same sex marriage that makes sense to me.
The Family Research Council reports that gay couples, especially men, could not be faithful to one another – and that the raging gay libido would “undercut the norm of sexual fidelity within marriage.” Meanwhile, there are statistics floating around out there that say 50 percent of heterosexual women and 60 percent of heterosexual men will have extramarital affairs.
The Council also says that same sex marriages “isolate marriage from its procreative purpose.” But aren’t we living in an age where people procreate outside of marriage? In fact, don’t people sometimes procreate outside of relationships? And if this is the case, wouldn’t some of these children need homes? And aren’t there same sex couples who would love to raise these children? Doesn’t that kind of look like a win-win situation?
In addition, the Council said that marriages “thrive when spouses specialize in gender-typical roles.” Which makes me wonder – what’s gender typical anymore? My parents have been married 40 years and my dad was a stay at home dad. I know another guy, married 20 years, who does all the cooking. I have a woman friend, married 25 years, who prefers mowing the lawn to cooking. And look at Shiloh Jolie-Pitt, prettiest little girl in the world – can’t get her out of a three-piece suit.
Meanwhile, heterosexual couples do not seem to be doing as well as the Family Research Council would like to believe. The latest statistics show 53 percent of marriages end in divorce – and 41 percent of those end because of infidelity.
Frankly, these figures do not surprise me.
It’s not easy to love someone. It requires time you do not have. It requires patience you do not have. It requires a commitment that will have to last long after you’ve forgotten why you made it.
Gay or straight, isn’t marriage a daily gamble – sort of like my parking game? Every day is an opportunity for victory.
I think of that woman in the wheelchair, and I wonder what would happen to her if she had been denied her partner. I wonder who would take her out, in her bandages and blankets, to gaze at the sky.