The other night, in a little online debate, it was thrust (repeatedly) in my face that in the past few years the number of states that have outlawed same sex marriage has gone from zero to 30.Â This was somehow supposed to make me think that the idea of same sex marriage is dying painful and protracted death, and soon will be a non-issue.Â It was meant to make me think the people passing those laws were right, and support continues to grow in that direction.
Kinda like the Jim Crow laws, and the Dred Scott decision did, right?
The bottom line is that legislation is passed and court cases are won far more often on the last legs of an outdated tradition than in the dawning of a new era of strength and vitality for said laws.Â People donâ€™t pass laws protecting the sanctity of anything that is healthy and strong, they pass them to protect â€œinstitutionsâ€ that are weak and vulnerable.
There is argument to be made that traditional marriage is weak in our society.Â Divorce rates continue to be alarmingly high compared to pre-80′s numbers (contrary to popular belief, they do not continue to climb, per capita, and are actually lower than they were a decade or two ago – the 80′s were brutal, but we have gradually – albeit very slowly – gotten better since then).Â Second, third and even fourth marriages remain common.Â I know people who have had more spouses than automobiles in their life time.
Roughly 1.8 million people get divorced each year.Â Through the 1930′s the ratio of marriages to divorces was about 10:1, from the 40′s through the mid 70′s it was closer to 5:1, and since then it has idled around 2:1 (which is where the statistic of half of all marriages endign in divorce comes from). With a measurable percentage of its practitioners seemingly using an â€œif at first you donâ€™t succeed, try, try againâ€ approach, the status of marriage as an “institution” also seems somewhat in question.
People rush headlong into marriage these days with barely a moments thought.Â Consider this couple who married 17 hours after meeting at a bar in Vegas.Â I’m not going to say that their marriage will fail, because, luck does happen.Â However, luck should never be confused with a reason or supporting argument for a bad decision.
I have never been so “in love” as I have been *over and over again* 17, 24, 48, 72 hours into a relationship.Â It is exciting, invigorating, and, frankly, most often, a load of shit (pardon my French).Â Love and relationships are built over time, as trust is built, as commonalities are established, as little personality clashes are acknowledged and worked through. The bottom line is, if you want to remove luck (or as much of it as possible) from the equation, relationships require a solid foundation, and that requires time and experience (with each other).
After that, it requires commitment.Â Real text book commitment.Â I remember listening to marriage ceremonies when I was young and dozing or scoffing at the “this will take work” part of the ceremony.Â I mean how tough can it be to spend a bunch of time with someone you love… and… get someone else to make half the money and do half the chores (and don’t even get me started about a teenagers perspective on the sex)!!!
The reality, though, is that It can be tough… very very tough. Getting beyond those rough patches requires a focus on the end game, a long term view, and a capacity for delayed gratification (something not exactly endemic in our current immediate satisfaction culture).
This is not meant to bash marriage, I am, in fact, a fan.Â However, I do believe, as an â€œinstitution,â€ it is in dire need of repair; far more so than it is in need of protection.Â We seem to have a general population that is more interested in protecting it than in making it worth protecting, and nothing good can come of that.
The fact is, marriage itself (as opposed to same-sex marriage) could wind up dying a (slow and) painful death (at least in regard to significance) from within, and, if people donâ€™t start focusing on that, the so-called external threat is not going to matter.
(note: full disclosure, my personal beliefs regarding the marriage issue, apart from the above, are that from a legislative standpoint, all rights, privildeges etc. afforded to a multi-sex couple should be extended too a same-sex couple.Â I don’t care what it is called (i.e “protecting” or “reserving” the term “marriage” is fine with me), but legally the same rights should exist.Â From a spiritual standpoint, I don’t believe it is anyone’s business but the couple involved and their creator if they have beliefs that support such third party involvement )