I wanted to wait until I’d had a chance to review the California Supreme Court’s ruling re Gay Marriage before posting. If you’re interested, you too can find the ruling here . It’s 172 pages long, though, so it’s a bit of a slog.
But you don’t even have to read every word to know that the California Supreme Court has, in their “activist justice” way, declared the prior law unconstitutional based on a few underlying premises: (1) Being gay or lesbian is not a choice; which means, then, that (2) discrimination based on sexual orientation is illegal on its face (like discrimination based on race or gender would be – again, these are facts that can’t be chosen – for the most part (don’t start me on the road to transgender arguments – I know transgendered individuals have their point!)). So if 1 and 2 are the case, then the fundamental right to form a family cannot be denied to two otherwise competent adult individuals, just based on their sexual orientation.
This leaves out the old slippery slope arguments like, “But . . . if gays can marry, what’s going to stop someone from wanting to marry his goat (sister, canasta club)?” Civilly, marriage is a contract. A contract is void or voidable if entered into by someone who is considered legally incompetent to enter into that contract (e.g., a child, a person who due to severe mental defect may not understand the contract [although, for example, mild retardation is no barrier to marriage], a non-human, and we aren’t up to groups of people marrying, either!) The issue of close blood relatives marrying is still one where the state has an interest, especially if children may be born. The incest taboo is there for a reason, kids.
It’s not enough to say that domestic partnership is, essentially, the same as marriage. That’s the old “separate but equal” argument which has not held up with the US Supreme Court (remember Brown v Board of Education?). Even if you think this is more about symbolism than reality, especially here in California where domestic partnerships have been legal for some time now, “marriage” is a word with meaning. As I told the ‘Publican today, “I don’t think what WE have is a ‘domestic partnership’ – it’s a marriage. Frankly, had the court decided to eliminate the word marriage and civilly decide that all marriages were, in fact, domestic partnershps, I wouldn’t be very happy.” (By the way, that is something the court thought about.)
So, all in all, a good day for humanity, in my book. If you’re gay, you get to make the same damn mistakes as the rest of us less than perfect straight folks – you get to spend too much money on a wedding, you get to decide on a pre-nup, you get real in-laws who will love you or hate you based on who you are (not just because you’re gay), you get to wish you’d never gotten married in the first place, and to sit in the therapist’s waiting room when there are problems, and you get to get divorced and fight about the kids and property and knick knacks built up over a lifetime.
But you ALSO get to realize that society dignifies and honors your relationship, and you never have to be removed from a hospital room or be shunned from your beloved’s insurance, and you certainly get to say, “I’m married!” with all the joy, pain, and annoyance that these words imply. Now you get to have a cultural experience equal to straight society’s – no better, no worse, just the same. You get to decide whether or not you even want to get married, because we all know when we’re not allowed to do something, we want it all the more, and now each gay person will have to face the same fears, doubts and questions that straight men and women have faced around whether to marry or not – that person at this time, or even at all?
I’m reminded about something my Jungian analyst once said, “Marriage involves different archetypes” when talking about relationship. I was single but dated and had boyfriends for several decades between my marriages and I couldn’t agree more. I had to work through all my ideas about what it would be like to be married again – before I could actually decide if it was something I even wanted. I had a lot of negative stuff on being a “wife”. I’m glad I did that work because now I can really enjoy being married. And I think this is what gay men and women will learn, too. Marriage is, in essence, different. I don’t know why it is, I just know that it is.
Now I know some of you reading this will definitely not agree with me on it – and that’s fine. And I’m sure a few of you have already signed a petition to put this back on the ballot to change the California Constitution – and that’s fine, too! But I think even a lot of folks who are definitely against gay marriage won’t go farther than this because it’s one thing to have a law on the books, and it’s another thing to change the constitution. I think that is reserved for the big guns, frankly, and you know what? Society and culture have changed enough that (a) most people in the US know at least one person who’s gay or lesbian and doesn’t have horns; and (b) more and more people are taking the position of “live and let live” and meaning it. Even the ‘Publican who definitely is no fan of gay marriage feels this way (and so does Ahnold . . .)
I took the title of my post from something a friend of mine, a very nice “church lady” type (a true Christian, in other words) said to me, “Nobody should have to be alone.” That expresses my gut feeling about gay marriage. I’m just glad the California Supreme Court, mostly composed of Republican-appointed Justices by the way, found the legal basis to make this a dignified and honored right for all.
P.S. – I wanted to leave you with something a bit lighter – a bit more humorous – about gay marriage and some of the reasons why someone might be against it – enjoy!