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to love and cherish
a gay man's thoughts on marriage
by robert a. melos
6.24.03
pop culture

Marriage.

Who knew a word could have such meaning? People have fought for it and because of it, died for it, used it, abused it, cheapened it, and destroyed it, but man keeps coming back to it. As universal as breathing, it seems marriage serves a greater purpose in the human evolutionary process than simply being a union for procreation.

Marriage joins us in mind and spirit with the body of the greater community. Once we are married each individual becomes a part of a couple. We are no longer “I,” but rather “we.” This isn’t a bad thing, mind you, since society programs us from birth to expect marriage as part of the life process. Marriage is just a validation of being able to “play well with others,” as society expected us to do right from our first encounters with our fellow man.

The simple act of getting along with another human being to the extent of sharing life goals and dreams is a partial definition of marriage. It is a state of mind in which you believe in the actions, dreams and goals of another person and you know they believe in you with the same intensity.

If anything, these are some of the reasons I want the option of marriage to be available to me. I want the possibility of finding another individual whom I can believe in as strongly as I believe in myself, and have the right to marry that person if we both so desire. If that person should happen to be of the same sex as myself I do not believe that should preclude us from joining together to share the journey through life, or to build a life together that suits us.

Part of the fight to make same-sex marriage legal has been the need to overcome the religious obstacles of procreation. Even if we take all the Biblical do’s and don’ts and toss them aside, as I am want to do, I cannot argue the scientific fact man supplies the sperm to the woman’s egg. Now if procreation were the main purpose of marriage I simply couldn’t argue down the need for male/female unions. However, procreation is something that occurs naturally with or without the legally and financially recognized benefits of marriage.

In my mind marriage must be so much more than procreation, especially if homosexuals are willing to fight for it. Marriage must be more than Volvo driving soccer moms, and the new breed of stay at home dads. Marriage must be more than a ring, or a house, or two point five children, because those are things that do not interest me. Marriage is more than counting off the years spent together, or tax write-offs, or accumulating a fortune or losing everything material.

Marriage is almost more than I can put into words, because it is a state of mind. Marriage is looking at yourself and another, and thinking of yourself and that other person, considering the feelings and emotions of that person, enjoying their company and looking forward to spending a lifetime exploring the wonders of the world together.

Above all else, marriage is a promise to another person and yourself to cherish one another and respect each other. Loving someone in sickness and in health is all part of the overall promise of respect. If the bond you feel for another is strong enough, if your desire to share the life journey with that person is strong enough to make you faithful to that person regardless of physical, emotional or sexual obstacles, than you have a true marriage.

Of course you might have to work at this union, and you might fail, but the reward isn’t in the achieving of the goal as much as it is in the effort put forth to achieve the goal. If the journey isn’t its own reward, than you’re just commuting until you can change partners and try again from a different station.

With all of this in mind, I ask why should the homosexual community not be given the legal rights to something that they already have been groomed for along with the rest of society; the act of living life and experiencing it to the fullest?


ABOUT ROBERT A. MELOS

Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

more about robert a. melos

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COMMENTS

travis broughton
6.24.03 @ 10:18a

Nicely written. It would be nice if the "sanctity of marriage" folks would worry more about making marriages last than defining rules about who is allowed to participate.



travis broughton
6.24.03 @ 10:20a

That said, gay men seem to be among the least likely to stay together permanently. I hate to stereotype a whole community, and I know gay men who are in long-term/lifetime commitments, but it seems like the "split up" rate among gay men is much higher than that of straight married couples or that of lesbian partners. I wonder if this is because marriage is not an option, or if gay marriage would be more acceptable if more gay men stayed together longer. Or perhaps I just don't know the right people and am buying into a conservative conspiracy to keep the gay man down.

juli mccarthy
6.24.03 @ 12:16p

I think I disagree, Travis. While gays are certainly no MORE stable than any other demographic group, I think if legal marriage were an option, you'd see some very stable same-sex marriages. When we heteros marry, we're entitled to all kinds of "official" recognition perks, from bachelor parties before the wedding to rights of survivorship after the death of our partners, and for some, those perks are reason enough to get married in the first place. That anyone - gay or straight - would commit to a lifelong relationship without those benefits speaks volumes about the depth of their love for one another.

matt morin
6.24.03 @ 12:42p

What bothers me most is that marriage isn't just a committment. If that's all it was, gay and lesbian people could make their own committments and it would mean just as much. But being "officially" married brings with it all sorts of other benefits - tax breaks, health insurance perks, divorce benefits, rights to property when the spouse dies, etc.

It seems amazingly unfair, if not illegal, to give people those benefits while restircting others from getting them. It'd be like the government giving people a tax break only if they're white.

travis broughton
6.24.03 @ 2:19p

I'm not so sure about the benefits. Other than taxes and social security, can't most of the other benefits of marriage be assigned through one or more contracts? Sure, it's a pain to do so, but it seems feasible. All of the companies I've worked for have offered same-sex partner benefits. Life insurance beneficiaries can be selected, wills can be drafted, joint ownership is trivial.

I agree that it should be easier, but I also think that the real problem is that the religious and contractual connotations of marriage should be separate. I have no issue with a non-government institution refusing to perform or honor certain types of marriages, but I think the courthouse should perform and honor them all.

juli mccarthy
6.24.03 @ 2:42p

Some of the legal benefits of marriage can be assigned through means other than a legally recognized marriage. But along with the major legal issues you mention, there are other major and minor legal issues, as well as society issues. Who decides, in the case of a terminal illness, when to "pull the plug"? In a marriage that is not legally recognized, that right can easily be wrested from a partner and given to a blood relative. The same goes for funeral arrangements, and I know of two cases personally where the blood family of the deceased ignored the wishes of the same-sex life partner. All the way from trivial things that legally married couples can take for granted - if my husband dies, I automatically receive custody of his frequent flyer miles, for example - to the really major things that aren't currently being legally addressed, such as who gets my kid if I die.

And it's not all about death and legality, either. Traditional married couples enjoy a sort of social cachet too. It doesn't seem like a big deal until you start addressing invitations, then you get all goofy trying to figure out how to write an envelope!

robert melos
6.24.03 @ 4:12p

Matt is right. Above all else, if marriage were about the commitment and not all the legality I don't think there would even be a question as to who is or isn't entitled to be married. What it all comes down to is the legal rights of partners.

Yes, a lot of it can be addressed legally in other ways besides marriage, but those contractual agreements can be contested by blood relatives. And the blood relative doesn't even have to be a close relation, it could be a second or third cousin.

As for company benefits for same-sex couples a lot has happened recently that opens up the possibilities for many, but there are still just as many companies that do not acknowledge smae-sex couples.

Another thing is hospital visitation. A male/female couple never gets questioned as to relationship when one person is in the hospital, yet many hospitals will limit visitations to "family" members only. If you have a relative who disagrees with your lifestyle, they can force the hospital to enforce the visitation rules, even if the patient asks to see their partner.

For me what this all comes down to is respect of my desire to share a life with the person of my choosing. I will note here, I do not have a significant other, but what I've written is what I would expect from a relationship.

New Jersey is going to be testing the waters of same-sex marriage with a current court case, and the ruling may give some if not all legal rights of marriage to same-sex couples in the state. It could also nullify their relationships in a legal sense. This in my opinion is what is wrong with the legality of marriage.



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