Published on Tuesday, June 6, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
The Essence of Marriage
by Bill C. Davis
The regurgitated offensive on June 5, 2006 against same-sex marriage misses the essence of the word and the reality that it claims to be defending.
If marriage itself is to be defended in the Constitution then there must be an amendment against pre-nuptial agreements. A pre-nuptial agreement is a clear and direct assault against the essence of marriage - which by real definition is a lifelong union between two human-beings. The vow which defines the union in a universally recognized moment of commitment contains - must contain - the phrase, "til death do us part."
If anything offends the sanctity of marriage it is the oft used and legal practice of pre-nuptials which more than hints at the outset that there is a chance this vow will not be honored. If today's charge of the light brigade wants to defend the essence and honor of marriage, then they must criminalize pre-nuptials.
And should we even discuss divorce on a day like today? If today's cavalry coming to the rescue of marriage were serious they would not only propose a constitutional amendment against divorce but they would institute a kind of homeland security force headed up by Tony Perkins that would fight the national epidemic of divorce. If they're serious about marriage that's what they would be busy doing today. But they aren't serious.
Marriage is being treated like a country club - a place that will be soiled by the entry of certain kinds of people. The argument frames gay people as people with an inherent aberration they refuse to acknowledge as such and one they refuse to fix.
In fact it is a human reality - a real human reality. The desire for union is a common and transcendent urge and one that government and society are compelled to satisfy for all citizens.
Marriage is a poetic, legal and social construct which in recent human history in most Western societies has been the logical conclusion of intense romantic love. They aren't arranged - they are not a structure for eugenics - they are not, in its intent, motivated by property or money. When it's observed that someone married another person for his or her money, the implication is clear that it is not a marriage of heart and soul, which by the observation itself is saying that heart and soul are the reasons people should get married. To want to be joined in every way - in the eyes of all people and systems is a sane, responsible and human pursuit.
This initiative today is not a defense of marriage. It's an absurd and unnecessary defense of heterosexuality which no one is attacking. These kinds of battles are often external manifestations of inner conflicts. The thought that homosexuality could be fully sanctioned on a legal and constitutional level doesn't put the fear of God in today's light brigade. It puts a different kind and perhaps personal fear into them. Fred Phelps who protests the funerals of soldiers based on America's tolerance for homosexuality is not a social architect. He is clearly acting out an internal demon the way J. Edgar Hoover and Roy Cohen exorcised theirs.
One has to wonder about today's marriage "defenders." It satisfies something deep and dark in this light brigade to keep marriage off limits to gay people and to keep gay, if not evil and dirty, constitutionally second class at best. But as with most of this regime the limp lather of today has little to do with the essence of what it claims to be defending.
Bill C. Davis is a playwright. www.billcdavis.com
Published on Monday, June 5, 2006 by CommonDreams.org
Preserving the Sanctity of Marriage
by Missy Comley Beattie
Pandering to his faithful, core, conservative base, George Bush is again talking sanctity of marriage. Sanctity, of course, means holy. Thus, sanctity of marriage translates to holiness of matrimony. It sounds perfectly wonderful—as perfectly wonderful as sanctity of life. And we all remember Bush’s rush from Crawford to DC in an attempt to save Terri Schiavo because he values all life—believes in its holiness. Except, of course, when that ethic involves the lives of Iraqi men, women, and children. Better add Iranian and Afghan to the column of expendables.
The president does like the word sanctity though. It puts him in touch with his moral certitude and further ingratiates him with those who believe that he is ordained by God to lead us through the minefields of global terrorism—and that other hot potato he loves to mash and trash, same-sex marriage.
In his weekly radio address, George W. called upon Congress to pass a constitutional amendment, banning gay marriage. The president said that marriage “cannot be cut off from it cultural, religious, and natural roots.” Further, Bush opined that marriage is “the most enduring and important human institution, honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith.”
Yet, according to David Popenoe, co-author of an annual report, The State of Our Unions, by the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, “Nearly 50 percent of all marriages are projected to end in divorce or permanent separation.”
Seems the “human institution” which Bush assigns superlatives isn’t really the most enduring at all.
In fact, Popenoe informs us that the “United States has the weakest families in the Western world because we have the highest divorce rate.” And co-author of the report, Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, explains that there’s more acceptance “of alternatives to marriage such as unwed parenthood and cohabitation.” This revelation won’t go down well with those in the president’s circle of friends.
If George Bush believes it’s necessary to safeguard the sanctity of marriage by denying gay couples the opportunity and right to legal wedlock, then, he, first, should preserve heterosexual marriage by any means possible to ensure its very endurance. In other words, the president must call upon Congress to ban divorce itself to protect, once and for all, this most “important human institution.”
If the president really doesn’t want to cut off marriage from its “cultural, religious, and natural roots (what does he mean by natural roots?), he’d better make certain that divorce is not an option.