Would you get married if you could?

15 08 2010

I have always doubted the whole institution of marriage. My parents had a terrible one. My mother married young and it just killed her spirit. They separated after about 7 years and divorced sometime later. My grandparents, as far as I remember, were happily married although my grandfather once told me, rather morosely, he gave up ballroom dancing because his wife didn’t like it….he still wanted to dance…but that’s beside the point.

What I am talking about here is good marriages, based on trust and faith in today’s context….in the age of the internet and online sex. A marriage in which people are together because they want to be with each other and that alone keeps them together. Not children, not a shared bank account, not the lack of finances and not your families. Just you and the other person, wanting to be together.

I haven’t seen too many couples around me who are truly happily married in this fashion. That’s not to say there aren’t any. It’s just that I haven’t seen too many.

So in the West, when lesbians and gay men started wanting to get married, and advocating for the same rights as straight people, I looked on with scepticism and doubt. I kept wondering “Why should we want to ape what straight people have, why replicate an institution that has failed in our current context.

Why can’t we try and create something different?”

We often spoke of this among friends. Many gay people I know have migrated to the West from Sri Lanka and the rest of the sub continent, because they can’t be themselves in their home countries. Some went as asylum seekers, some migrated legally to work, most just went as students and found ways – legal or otherwise, to stay on. Some have obtained citizenship overseas and are thinking of gay marriage as well. But that’s because in some countries, lesbians and gay men can get married. Canada is one such country – full of Sri Lankan immigrants! In Europe, the Netherlands, Sweden, Iceland, and Norway are a few. I think there are others including Belgium and Spain. In the UK, same sex couples can enter into a civil partnership. Some states in the US also have this system of Civil Union or partnerships. However a marriage and a Civil Partnership are not the same. Far from it.

For example, in a marriage, the relationship is recognized across cultures, countries and religions. Although I marry in Anuradhapura, it would be accepted and recognized in Afghanistan. Not so for a civil partnership. That would be recognized only in the country where it was performed. Worse still -if, as a Sri Lankan, I chose to marry an Australian, we would be able to choose to live either in Sri Lanka or in Australia. Not so for a gay couple. Gay couples being forced to separate because of immigration regulations are more common that we realize. (I believe there was a film made on this subject as well!)

There are loads of other benefits that married people have that the rest don’t. Getting a bank loan together in joint names is another. Or a joint insurance policy, Or a joint club membership. People who aren’t married, can’t do these things together.

So I find myself now advocating for rights to marriage  – for those who want it, that is. It should be equally accessible to gay people as it is to straight folk. I think civil partnerships are a poor replacement, but better than nothing at all and far better than being considered criminals in your own country!



5 responses

15 08 2010

Marriage is central institution in all societies. . Heterosexuality is channeled in all societies into families. In all cultures and societies in the world there is a family institution and all societies today and in the history has rejected the promiscuous sexual life.

Heterosexual marriage is a bundle of myths and love-marriage is one part of the myth. In other societies marriage is seen more as an economical thing, not as pure divine expression of love. WE call our religion as religion of love, and even our homosexuals believe the marriage it is about love. In our culture the main importance is the myth that marriage protects love and helps love last longer. It is same kind of myth, as people in other religions believe the right astrological calculations help marriages to last. Gay marriages break this fuzzy myth and heterosexuals, who want with magical myth protect their relationship do not like the busting their myth. Logical reasoning does not help because myths are not logical.

15 08 2010

My partner and I had a civil service just under a year ago…we refer to each other as “husband” and we don’t see it as a substitute for marriage by any means as we are both non-religious and marriage if it were an option wouldn’t be our first choice.
We are lucky enough to be celebrating my parents 30th wedding anniversary tonight and Simon’s parents have been married 37 years…both shining examples of what putting time and effort to keep your relationship strong and fresh can achieve.
Marriage, civil partnership, whatever…they are just words and papers at the end of the day…relationships are about working through the rocky bits and enjoying the good.

The legal ramifications are another thing…and yes, I do thing it’s shitty that marriage grants certain legal privileges. Up to now our civil partnership hasn’t impeded us in any way.

16 08 2010

i could be wrong but from what i’ve read, the notion of the “til death do us part” type of marriage is a very christian thing.

the kind of marriage you mention ie the “marriage in which people are together because they want to be with each other and that alone keeps them together. Not children, not a shared bank account, not the lack of finances and not your families. Just you and the other person, wanting to be together” is possible even without the legal marriage coming in imo, if you have the nerves to defy societal conventions and norms.

to me, legal marriage as it is today is a social contract (dare i even say protection), and necessary especially if you want children and a shared bank account and all that. esp in a country where you don’t have legal protection for a mother or child if the child is born out of wedlock etc, marriage as a social contract that transfers rights and obligations is important. or if you want to migrate, if you want to use your partner’s pension/life insurance/in a morbid situation like taking a decision regarding a partner’s health (like taking/keeping him/her off/on life support). the list is endless, and the “benefits” (for lack of a better phrase) are only transferable if you’re married. for those reasons marriage is important no.

16 08 2010

If you look at the history of marriage as an institution, the coupling of love with marriage (no pun intended!) has happened very recently. In non-western communities, it is still an emerging ‘trend’ (proposed marriages are still common and accepted). As an institution, the foundations of Marriage are solidly economic – issues of wealth and heredity.

I think all legal mechanisms formalising a union -marriage, civil partnerships, other legally accepted traditional forms of marriage – should be available to everyone in a state, regardless of sexual identity/orientation. But along with this, what I would like to see is a critique of Marriage at a societal level rather than wholesale adoption of it by same sex couples just because the heterosexuals have access to it.

16 08 2010

I think (from what i’ve read) the argument for same-sex marriage here in the US revolves mostly around having access to all the rights that heterosexual married couples do, especially hospital visitation rights and child custody. As an institution, I think it is a failing one, and one that sets us up for failure. Man, imo, is not a monogamous animal!

Would I get married just because i can? No. I am suspicious of such binding contracts and dont see the necessity for it. But if I were to find my soul mate, for the lack of a better word, and he strongly believed in getting married, I wouldnt say no.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: