Monday, February 25, 2008

Same-Sex Couples Doing Just Fine

The cackling glee from some corners over same-sex marriages, unions and divorces continues to astound. A benign form recently appeared in a Salon piece, one that smelled heavily of make-news.

As predicted here and elsewhere, the same-sex coupling non-issues were easy to foresee. In civil union, marriage and domestic partnership states:
  • Some couples had been together for a long time and rushed to take advantage of their new options.
  • That meant a big front-loaded jump, followed by dribbles of new ones.
  • Most of those have a considerably lower dissolution rate than different-sex ones. Quite simply, the couples were more committed to each other, often for a long time. There are few drunken-weekend ceremonies with ensuing regret.
  • As in the larger population, some individuals and couples distrust and dislike the concepts and restrictions of marriage or marriage-imitating relationships. Long before Vermont civil unions and Massachusetts marriages, we have seen decades of declines in different sex marriage, and in couples marrying later in life.
While I was away for most of last week, New York's Monroe County executive, Maggie Brooks, announced that she would appeal the State Appellate Court ruling that mandated acceptance of Canadian same-sex marriages there. The implication was also that Massachusetts SSM couples would get recognition in New York.

Her reasoning, to use the term loosely, was sad and stereotypical:
This is a clear case of misinterpretation of the law. We must appeal this decision in order to protect Monroe County taxpayers. We can not simply extend benefits to unmarried couples and we certainly can not ignore the definition of marriage that currently exists under State law...To expand these benefits to same-sex couples is to ignore the will of the people of Monroe County and New York State. Therefore, the County is seeking an appeal of the recent ruling in this case.
Parse that to show the Catch 22 gay and lesbian couples continue to face in most places. It's illegal for you to marry, we won't make it legal, and by the bye, you can't have equal rights because, after all, you aren't married. Nah nah.

Layering the keeping-costs-down-for-taxpayers is particularly odious and surely won't stand as part of any argument. However, it's good political fare.

So, we have the grand stew of gay marriage. Committed couple who do want marriage and the related benefits and options, in general cannot wed. Those who do not want to marry or have a civil union are often pointed out illogically as proof that there is no need for same-sex marriage. Those tax-paying SS couples who do want the access to health care, inheritance and other marriage benefits are often accused of burdening taxpayers. (Wait, aren't they taxpayers too?)

The hypocrisy and cruelty is not going to stop until there's marriage equality. In Massachusetts, marriage rates are high and divorce rates are low — gay and straight alike. Other states cite us as proof of the positive effects of SSM.

Yet, most of the nation's politicians chant la-la-la-la they can't hear us. Meanwhile, it will take decades for there to be a critical mass of population that can equally access marriage.

I'm probably the wrong guy to debate this. I'm coming up on 32 years of marriage this spring. I don't deride those couples who don't want marriage any more than I do those who do not have children. Those are choices. One would think that the anti-SSM forces would favor marriage more and be happy to expand it. Not so.

As I recall though from my upbringing, we in this country proudly differentiate ourselves from other nations in our freedoms, in our choices. Two men or two women should have the choice to wed. It's only American.

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