Thursday, February 17, 2005

Marriage, Marriage, Marriage

It's the week of Valentines day...a good time to talk about marriage. A few links of note...

John Scalzi explains why the concept of "covenant marriage" is stupid. He's referring to a law in Arkansas:
couples getting a covenant marriage agree to seek counseling before they wed and before they seek a divorce. A covenant marriage also requires a two-year wait before a divorce becomes final, except in cases of adultery, abuse or imprisonment for a felony.
Scalzi sums up his objection quite well here:
As a concept, it's pretty damn insulting. "Covenant Marriage" implicitly suggests that people won't stay married unless they subject themselves to onerous governmental restrictions on their personal freedoms; basically, it's the state telling you that it expects you to get a divorce at some point, unless it makes it too annoying for you to get a divorce to make it worth your while. The State of Arkansas is banking on sloth, apathy and state bureaucracy to keep a bunch of bad marriages together, as if bad marriages are really better than divorce.
You know, my parents have been married 40 years. I'm pretty sure that no-fault divorce has been legal in Illinois for many years, yet oddly enough,they have never taken advantage of that option.

Here is a good question that has been on my mind - exactly why is a high divorce rate bad? Before you freak out, stop and think - by the time it gets to the stage of divorce, the damage to the relationship is done. Requiring the individuals to stay in the marriage doesn't create a "successful marriage"; it creates a failed marriage that happens to still be intact. How is that a "success."

Creating successful marriages is a lot harder than disallowing divorce. It requires preventing the problems that cause the damage to the relationship in the first place. Marrying the right person is a good place to start. Pre-marital counseling is another good idea, but it hardly seems the place of the government to require that. Teaching people realistic expectations of long-term relationships would be another useful tactic.

Continuing on the marriage theme, there is this post from Jason at Positive Liberty regarding the idea of privatizing marriage. In this concept, there would essentially be civil unions for everyone and the"sacrament" of marriage would be left to religions. Jason does a good job pointing out both the advantages and disadvantages of this idea; I don't really have anything to add there.

Finally, a couple great posts from Daddy, Papa, and Me that absolutely made my day yesterday and gave me a best sense of hope I've had since the 2004 elections.

First, this post discusses the anniversary of his San Francisco marriage last year during the brief flurry of gay marriages (remember that?). I remember sitting here in the Chicago suburbs and looking at pictures of so many happy couples during those days and wishing that Laura and I could do the same. The lines wrapped around the block seemed the perfect illustration of the commitment and deep desire to marry on the part of the gay couples.

Anyway, Trey's post addresses the notion that "backlash" from those marriages fueled the 2004 election disaster.

Listening to him also, I realized and then did some searching on the net (and my own blog), the so-called 'backlash' against marriage equality didn't start after our 'marriage-in' winter of love here in San Francisco, no.. it started with [GW Bush's] state of the union address when he called for an anti-gay amendment, it started in the months before and during San Francisco's marriages when anti-gay forces had already started planning and pushing for anti-family amendments in those 13 states. They needed no San Francisan mayor to jump start their bigotry. They had already started, with [Bush] at their lead. Theirs wasn't a 'backlash', it was just an old-fashioned lashing

So, the question is, when you are getting a good lashing, do you bend over and let them beat you or do you stand up straight against them? Gavin Newsom, 4,000 families and couples and hundreds of city workers and volunteers decided to stand straight and not take a lashing. The hundreds of couples in many other states and then the thousands of couples in Massachusetts decided not to take the lashing

Then, continuing his theme of optimism, he describes in this post how the SF marriages had no effect on the election outcome. He brings up 7 excellent points to support this, and has promised to fill in with more details this week. I hope he does, as this is utterly refreshing after the gloom and doom of the past few months!

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