Saturday, June 29, 2013

How same-sex marriages harmed mine

Living with the uncertainty of the survival of my marriage over the last 10 years has been a bit stressful, let me tell you.

When I married over 40 years ago, no one probably thought that marriage between people of the same sex would ever be a possibility, so I didn't even consider it a potential threat to my marriage. We vowed, "for better or worse" and "for richer or for poorer" and "in sickness and in health," but we didn't promise "when women can marry men and men can marry women, as well as when women can marry women and men can marry men." Who would have predicted that that additional vow might have been necessary?

But then, about a decade ago, Massachusetts started considering legalizing same-sex marriage, and the warnings began: "Same-sex marriage will destroy traditional marriage!" "Fewer people will marry!" "There will be more divorces!" "Marriages will be strained because heterosexual couples will be confused by same-sex couples."

Despite the dire predictions, Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage. And although I watched to see what effect that decision would have on my marriage, I really didn't notice any. But I didn't live in Massachusetts, and it was about a 7 1/2 hour drive between my home in Maryland and Massachusetts, so maybe distance was a protective factor.

But then, laws permitting same sex marriage started creeping closer: Connecticut in 2008 and Washington, D.C. in 2009. Eek! D.C.! Right next door! And we have an unguarded border between Maryland and D.C.!  Again came the warnings about how same-sex marriages will harm non-same-sex marriages. What awfulness would happen to my marriage? Nothing, as much as I could tell.

More states began allowing same-sex marriages and eventually, in 2012, Maryland joined them, passing a law legalizing same-sex marriages; however, that law was petitioned to referendum. "Vote against the right of gays to marry!" voters were warned. "Save your marriage! Save your children's marriage! Save Maryland marriages and marriages everywhere from this pernicious law."

I heard that my own marriage will loose its "specialness." I wasn't sure what that meant, but if my marriage was special, wasn't everyone's in its own way?

I also heard that same-sex marriage would cut into the rights given to non-same-sex married couples. Really? Did some people think that marriage is like a pizza, and as more people come to the pizza party, each of us gets a smaller and smaller piece to enjoy?!

"But same-sex marriage will lessen the value of traditional marriage!" Ah, so, traditional marriage isn't a pizza as much as a yearned-for toy like a Tickle Me Elmo or a Furby that is on many, many wish-lists but, at first, the supply can't meet the demand, so those who have access to them can sell them for lots of money on eBay or craigslist, but after a while, as more are made and distributed, the toy for which you paid over $300 plus shipping at the beginning of December has plummeted in price and is now available for $19.99 plus tax at every local store that sells toys?

Despite all those obviously well-supported anti-same-sex marriage arguments (Yes, that is snark. Imagine that.) I decided, "Well, I haven't seen anything awful happening to my marriage as a result of same-sex marriage elsewhere, so why not take a chance and give same-sex couples the right to marry in Maryland?" A majority of other Maryland voters joined me in voting in favor of same-sex marriage, and on January 1 of this year, same-sex couples began marrying in Maryland.

Then I watched and waited and gauged how all these new same-sex marriages in my own state had affected mine. And the only noticeable effect seems to be my renewed appreciation of the sometimes forgotten joys and benefits that marriage bestows. And I was reminded again and again as I saw photos of happy newlyweds--woman and man, woman and woman, man and man--that love is love.

Still, when the Supreme Court decisions in the Proposition 8 and DOMA cases were issued this week, concerns about the harm to "traditional" marriages again arose. And I'll keep monitoring the resulting harm to my own marriage. But I'm going to bet that the number of ultimate harmful effects will continue as it has been: none.

But, oh my stars! Now I have an even more serious new disaster created by same-sex marriages to worry about: the end of civilization. I never did prepare for the end of civilization before Y2K, and look at what happened to civilization then! But considering how much damage same-sex marriage has done in the U.S. and elsewhere so far, I'm going to have to think about what I need to do to now. Other than support marriage equality everywhere that is.

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