Many times I talk, tweet, post statues about the issues I have with marriage, but I have yet to put it in a collected thought, so here is goes.
First, let me start by stating that I think marriage can be and is for many a beautiful thing! It’s always wonderful when folks can come together to share life with one another. However, I think my biggest hangup with marriage is the fact we esteem it so high above all other types of relationships. It becomes a means to obtain success! How many times have we seen and heard the formula for success in this country? It goes as follows: high school, college, get a good job, get married, have two and a half kids, a dog, and a white picket fence. Ain’t that somebody’s dream?
This whole idea that one is not successful unless married is particularly devastating for women. Consider how many women in our culture we do not deem successful because they are not married. How many stories have we heard of women putting their lives on hold to get married? Men simply do not share the same consequences. In fact, single successful men are many times seen as hot commodities and ones to be sought after. But patriarchy has convinced many that women are not valuable humans unless connected (in marriage) with another man.
Now, this brings up many other issues. Not only do I think marriage is not for everybody, but clearly everybody does not have access to it. There is certainly a movement of states affirming the rights of queer folks to marry, but the work is far from complete. But if we want to hold marriage as a marker of success, then all folks should have access to it. If marriage must be esteemed higher above all other types of relationships then marriage must be extended to queer folks. Queer folks have been in long-lasting, loving relationships and have yet to receive the same benefits as folks who are married.
So to my conservative and overly religious friends who want deny marriage to queer folks, blue folks, and square folks I contend that marriage should never have been a state-sanctioned, so-called institution to begin with. But if you must have it state-sanctioned, then you must allow all citizens of this country to participate in it. If not, then you must give those privileges that come with marriage up! It should just be a religious or secular ceremony that comes with no extra state-recognized privileges. You cannot have your cake and eat it too! So choose ye this day whom you will serve!
Again, marriage can be a beautiful thing! But it is not better or worse than other types of relationships! In fact, the stats don’t lie! If 50% of marriages end in divorce and more people than ever are choosing not to marry, then our perception of it may be terribly wrong! If 50% of those marriages end and less and less people are getting married, then why not extend those privileges that come with it to our queer sisters and brothers?
Finally, folks mostly ask if I will ever marry. And my answer is simple. Marriage is not my goal. I’m not sure if it has ever been a goal of mine. If I marry, then great. If I don’t marry then great. If I get into a long-term, loving relationship that last the rest of my life but doesn’t turn into marriage, then great. Marriage may be a determining factor of success to you, but I think we all need to learn the difference between success and greatness.