Why marriage matters

Adam Griffiths

In light of the scrutiny over Proposition 8 in California, now may not be the best time to come out as a gay man who doesn’t think the fight for same-sex marriage is where our movement should be directing the bulk of its attention right now.

But it’s not that I don’t believe in same-sex marriage.

I don’t believe in marriage at all in the United States.

Now, it’s easy to hurdle claims of my historically flippant attitude toward committed, monogamous relationships between any two people and deem my stance invalid. But the definition of marriage in the United States is so skewed and politically manipulated these days, it’s hard to call it anything but yet another flagrant ignorance of the separation of Christian America from corrupt government. The two are co-dependent and have been for years.

The only way to allow everyone the reserved benefits enjoyed by a married couple – federally defined as one man and one woman – is to deinstitutionalize marriage. Conservatives and the religious right charge this would destroy the “sanctity of marriage” in the United States. It’d be cliché to employ divorce statistics here, but the question begs itself: Why isn’t anyone concerned about the sanctity of American government itself? Why should two people who love each other be roadblocked by an “institution” that claims moral superiority and invokes an Almighty on its side when more and more of those who run it seem unable to maintain the “sanctified” utopia they suggested to get elected in the first place?

Marriage has first and foremost always been a business industry regulated by men. Even in biblical times, marriage was the commodization of women. After society evolved and women earned the freedom to have a say in who they married, our forefathers repurposed regulations on marriage on yet another inherent trait – race. It wasn’t until the latter half of the 20th century blacks earned the right to be legally married in our country.

So it came up then that another minority would fight for its rights.

After LGBT Americans began making a name for themselves and started to overcome widespread stereotyping that persists today, the powers that be in the liberation movement deemed marriage the next logical benchmark in the fight for “equality.”

We are only unequal because corrupt societal “institutions” keep us that way. I’m not talking about socio-economic status or race or sex or gender here. We let laws and regulations segregate us because it feels natural to be confined to social groups. Those fighting for civil rights are perpetuating this social model as much as those opposing them.

So what do you do when the world seems programmed to maintain distinctions based on “natural” characteristics? Nothing less than change the discourse.

And that’s what two straight college students from southern California want to do. Ali Shams, a political science major at University of California San Diego, and his friend Kaelan Housewright, a student at CalArts in Valencia, Calif., proposed a ballot measure that would replace all instances of “marriage” in state laws with “domestic partnerships.” The measure has been approved, and if they can collect 694,534 signatures by Aug. 6, it will go up for a vote next November, according to an article last Thursday in the San Francisco Chronicle.

“I’m not religious, and I’m not gay, but I am concerned about equal rights,” Shams told the Chronicle, and it’s a sentiment this generation needs to take to heart.

The problem with the United States is our birthright – contradictions littered throughout both American government and our country’s culture. It’s time to take stock of what’s important in our lives – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Same-sex marriage has been a poster child for this spirit long enough, and it’s become a stalemate in the discussion of our progress as a society.

Deregulating marriage isn’t going to be easy, but when we can love who we want to love openly and secure the same rights for one another despite our government’s endorsement, that will be the true human rights and civil rights victory – and both we, and those of our nation’s future, deserve nothing less.

If anything, it wouldn’t be very American.

Adam Griffiths is a junior visual journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].