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“say that you’ll be mine, baby all the time”

February 9, 2010

For obvious reasons (or, if the previous post was oblique, which i gather it may have been – i’m engaged) i’ve been thinking about marriage. Though this is a post i’ve been wanting to write for some time now.

At some point before it was particularly personal, i had a discussion of marriage with Jamie in which she said something to the effect of it not being very relevant since it’s illegal here (unconstitutional, in fact). That is where i started really thinking on the subject, as it had never occurred to me that that would affect anyone’s decision to get married.

To me, a wedding has three parts: legal, religious and community. Now, generally, these are all smashed into one, which, i think, is where all the confusion comes in. If all three happen to mesh, that’s fine. And fine if they don’t (which seems to be the more complicated part).

First, if i could, i would legally marry her in a heartbeat. Thinking too hard about the things we may not be able to do for lack of legal marriage makes me sick. However, i am not a gay marriage activist. For one, there are so many things i think are more pressing. But frankly, i don’t think legal and marriage should have anything to do with one another anyhow.

I don’t mean that in a naive sort of way; there are obvious practical reasons that it is the government’s business whose money is tied together and who can have hospital visitations. I am (adamantly) not a libertarian – it is very practical for there to be legal information on these sorts of things; when all else fails that is how you mediate confusion about it.

Nonetheless, i don’t think marriage is the government’s business. I think that there ought to be a separate sort of legal relationship registry. In which i could enter my husband as my legal “next of kin.” Or my brother. Or roommate. Best friend, father, boyfriends, lovers, wife. Obviously, it is important to know who my house (and the debt associated with it) goes to if i die. I simply see no reason that should be related to marriage. I ought to be able to enter into that sort of legally binding contract with anyone who consents to be a part of it.

In fact, in many states – were we straight – we would already be considered married even if we didn’t want to be! It would do wonders for the idea of consent to count legal relationships (such as joint property ownership) as an entirely different beast from marriage. I say that having known multiple people who have had to get a divorce – for legal purposes – from someone they never married in the first place. With the cultural meanings attached to marriage and divorce, i think that adds an unnecessary burden to an already unpleasant situation, and one that is put there by the government, who ought not care at all.

I don’t have a lot to say about religion. For me, religion was always inextricably connected to community. I realize that for others there is far more to it than that, so i think it is important to acknowledge religion – and spirituality – as a separate and specific reason to get married and aspect of marriage. For me, it is not the – or even a – reason, so i don’t feel i am in a place to elaborate.

The community is the most important – and currently the entire – reason i am getting married. This is the “proclaiming your love in the presence of family and friends” part. And them supporting you in response. I can’t think of anything more important to me than family and friends, unless it is my love. While this holds such meaning to me, i think it is very simple.

I will add, though, that i think there is an aspect of accountability to marriage that a community announcement enforces. Being engaged, i feel that i have pretty well already promised to her that i am willing to work on this relationship, but telling everyone i hold dear – and everyone who holds her dear – the same thing holds a bit more meaning.

In fact, i think accountability is a significant portion of the religious, and perhaps all of the legal side of marriage.

Lady Brett

"Susie Q" - CCR
2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 12, 2010 11:45 pm

    You make some great points. I’ve thought for a long time now that the religious and state affairs should be separate (imagine!), and I’m not sure why that is such a foreign or far-off concept for some people. Maybe one day … and in the meantime, congratulations again!

  2. Anonymous permalink
    March 3, 2010 4:18 pm

    what a beautifully worded and articulately expressed breakdown of what it means to get married! i am grateful for the clarity you’ve brought to the similar feelings i have– thank you!

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