A piece in the Weekly Standard --"The Worst Thing About Gay Marriage: it isn't Going to Work" by Sam Schulman--argues against gay marriage by claiming those in opposition aren't necessarily opposed to it because of what the Bible says, but because the true purpose of marriage cannot be realized by gays. Also, gay marriage will hurt the women and children.
Is the right to marry merely lagging behind the pace with which gays have attained the right to hold jobs--even as teachers and members of the clergy; to become elected officials, secret agents, and adoptive parents; and to live together in public, long-term relationships? And is the public, having accepted so rapidly all these rights that have made gays not just "free" but our neighbors, simply withholding this final right thanks to a stubborn residue of bigotry? I don't think so.
The difference is between the duties that marriage imposes on married people--not rights, but rather onerous obligations--which do not apply to same-sex love.
Schulman argues marriage is not about romantic connections and love--even though, he writes, "Romantic marriages" have become increasingly popular in the west only recently. Instead, the true function of marriage is to develop what he says is a kinship system.
Consider four of the most profound effects of marriage within the kinship system.
The first is the most important: It is that marriage is concerned above all with female sexuality. The very existence of kinship depends on the protection of females from rape, degradation, and concubinage.
I'm not sure what era Schulman believes he's inhabiting, but it's not 2009. It's not even 1965. And, whatever era it is, he's forgetting marriage doesn't "protect" women's sexuality whatsoever (from whom is it being protected?). Unless "protection" actually means "control." He could be more honest and write, "Marriage--nay, traditional, biblical marriage--ensures a man will have dominion over his wife's vagina for so long as she does not crawl out from under his thumb and be molested by another man, a thief."
Schulman also forgets many husbands abuse and rape their wives, and that, when single and unowned by this man in Schulman's "ideal" world of marriage, women are no longer in danger of being concubines.
Marriage, whatever its particular manifestation in a particular culture or epoch, is essentially about who may and who may not have sexual access to a woman when she becomes an adult, and is also about how her adulthood--and sexual accessibility--is defined. Again, until quite recently, the woman herself had little or nothing to say about this, while her parents and the community to which they answered had total control. The guardians of a female child or young woman had a duty to protect her virginity until the time came when marriage was permitted or, more frequently, insisted upon.
Again, he's harking back to the good ol' days when women could have been considered male property. Oh, how times have changed. We make our own decisions about our vaginas now - how novel!
This most profound aspect of marriage--protecting and controlling the sexuality of the child-bearing sex--is its only true reason for being, and it has no equivalent in same-sex marriage. Virginity until marriage, arranged marriages, the special status of the sexuality of one partner but not the other (and her protection from the other sex)--these motivating forces for marriage do not apply to same-sex lovers.
Never mind "do not apply to same-sex lovers." These motivating forces do not apply this century. They didn't apply for much of the last century. His argument could not be more irrelevant.
Second, kinship modifies marriage by imposing a set of rules that determines not only whom one may marry, but, more important, whom one may not marry. ... Incest prohibition and other kinship rules that dictate one's few permissible and many impermissible sweethearts are part of traditional marriage. Gay marriage is blissfully free of these constraints. There is no particular reason to ban sexual intercourse between brothers, a father and a son of consenting age, or mother and daughter.
Of course! Permitting gay marriage means fathers will marry sons, mothers will marry daughters, sisters and brothers will marry one another (sisters to sisters, brothers to brothers, I mean - heterosexual sibling marriage would just be gross).
This argument of his, of course, assumes the only reason fathers and daughters and mothers and sons aren't currently marrying is because they're afraid of what they might reproduce. That we all have the natural desire to commit incest but dutifully refrain, and that, because gays can't reproduce and have no real reason to stop themselves, they will commit rampant incest.
Schulman not only neglects to address the parents who, even without gay marriage on the books, molest and rape their own children, but he ignores the cultural understanding our society has been conditioned to experience, and that is that you don't have romantic feelings for family. While, scientifically, it might very well be that inbreeding produces substandard offspring, but psychologically and emotionally, we just know it's icky and we don't do it. You don't have to be heterosexual to feel familial toward family. But, what a strange thing for him to say.
The next argument he makes leaves me confused, because I don't see the ... rather, his...logic.
Third, marriage changes the nature of sexual relations between a man and a woman. Sexual intercourse between a married couple is licit; sexual intercourse before marriage, or adulterous sex during marriage, is not...the illicit or licit nature of heterosexual copulation is transmitted to the child, who is deemed legitimate or illegitimate based on the metaphysical category of its parents' coition.
"Now to live in such a system, in which sexual intercourse can be illicit, is a great nuisance. Many of us feel that licit sexuality loses, moreover, a bit of its oomph. Gay lovers live merrily free of this system. Can we imagine Frank's family and friends warning him that "If Joe were serious, he would put a ring on your finger"? Do we ask Vera to stop stringing Sally along? Gay sexual practice is not sortable into these categories--licit-if-married but illicit-if-not (children adopted by a gay man or hygienically conceived by a lesbian mom can never be regarded as illegitimate). Neither does gay copulation become in any way more permissible, more noble after marriage. It is a scandal that homosexual intercourse should ever have been illegal, but having become legal, there remains no extra sanction--the kind which fathers with shotguns enforce upon heterosexual lovers."
(that last bit is in quotes because it won't bold here, for some reason. But it's Schulman's.)
So, if I'm reading this right, it's very important to be able to categorize the nature of sexual relationships, to apply all relationship cliches to all people equally, and that fathers have someone's vagina and uterus to protect with a shotgun. Oh - we're also to take for granted that gay intercourse is impermissible. Got it.
Fourth, marriage defines the end of childhood, sets a boundary between generations within the same family and between families, and establishes the rules in any given society for crossing those boundaries. Even in modern romantic marriages, a groom becomes the hunting or business partner of his father-in-law and a member of his clubs; a bride becomes an ally of her mother-in-law in controlling her husband.
I'd hate to be in this guy's marriage--makes me wonder what it is about it he's so bent on "protecting." I see nothing here but unflattering stereotyping of heterosexual marriage. But I'm grateful to him for this; he's reminded me to find out when the season premier of "Mad Men" will be on.
A wedding between same-sex lovers does not create the fact (or even the feeling) of kinship between a man and his husband's family; a woman and her wife's kin. It will be nothing like the new kinship structure that a marriage imposes willy-nilly on two families who would otherwise loathe each other.
He doesn't really answer why he believes this to be so, unless the assumption is that, once married, the male-male, female-female in-laws will bond doing their womanly and manly things. As a thrice married woman who knows many other married women, I can assure you that, while it may happen in many marriages, it certainly does not happen in most of them. The possession of a particular reproductive organ does not lead to the automatic bonding with others possessing like organs.
Also, any marriage is the willy-nilly imposition of a new family member on the family, gay or straight. Has Schulman not been privy to all the in-law horror stories involving fathers in-law who would love to shoot their daughter's husbands, mothers in-law who would rather scratch out the eyes of their son's wives than invite them in? (The gender cliches and stereotypes are used intentionally to argue in a way Schulman will understand.)
Marriage is also an initiation rite. Before World War II, high school graduation was accompanied by a burst of engagements; nowadays college graduation begins a season of weddings that go on every weekend for some years. In contrast, gay weddings are rather middle-aged affairs. My impression is borne out by the one available statistic, from the province of British Columbia, showing that the participants in first-time same-sex weddings are 13 years older, on average, then first-time brides-and-grooms.
Note: heterosexual couples are also marrying later in life. Schulman is arguing for tradition more than anything else. He's not comfortable with change. And, reading about the kind of marriage he values, he can't be very happy with modern heterosexual marriage, either, what with us uppity women choosing not to marry until later, choosing whom to marry, claiming ownership over our own sexual behavior, and making other personal choices all by our lonesomes.
[D]eclaring gay marriage legal will not produce the habit of saving oneself for marriage or create a culture which places a value on virginity or chastity (concepts that are frequently mocked in gay culture precisely because they are so irrelevant to gay romantic life). But virginity and chastity before marriage, license after--these are the burdens of real marriage, honored in spirit if not in letter, creating for women (women as modern as Beyoncé) the right to demand a tangible sacrifice from the men who would adore them.
Begs the question: what's so valuable about virginity? (Wait! Sorry. Female virginity.) Oh - wait again! I didn't read closely enough. Female virginity is a bargaining chip. Something to be held onto so we can more effectively manipulate men. Protecting our vaginas from men before we get married means we then have the "right" to "demand a tangible sacrifice." Ooh...like what? The possibilities when imagining a "tangible sacrifice"... His car? Can a virgin take his car in exchange for first penetration rights? (Only once married, though; otherwise, she'd be called a prostitute. Funny how that works, and is actually argued favorably by someone who seems so very conservative...)
...marriage is a part of the kinship system, and kinship depends on the protection, organization, and often the exploitation of female sexuality vis-à-vis males.
Thanks, but no thanks. We don't need you to protect - or exploit - our sexuality.
And if, just for the sake of your argument, we do need the protections of males from males, how about you write a nice long piece not about how men can protect women from you, but how men can change their behavior so we don't require this protection? (Then again, if we didn't need your protection from you, you couldn't convince us we need you. Hm...)
In gay marriage there are no virgins (actual or honorary), no incest, no illicit or licit sex, no merging of families, no creation of a new lineage.
First, "in gay marriage there are no virgins" doesn't even make enough sense to be able to argue it (I tried, then deleted it, because I honestly have no idea what the hell he's saying). Second, of course there is a merging of families. Third, there's no creation of a new lineage in a lot of heterosexual marriages, either.
What's wrong with this? In one sense, nothing at all. Gays who marry can be congratulated or regarded as foolish based on their individual choices, just as I might covet or lament the women my straight friends espouse. In fact, gay couples who marry enter into a relationship that married people might envy. Gay marriage may reside outside the kinship system, but it has all the wedding-planning, nest-building fun of marriage but none of its rules or obligations (except the duties that all lovers have toward one another). Gay spouses have none of our guilt about sex-before-marriage. They have no tedious obligations towards in-laws, need never worry about Oedipus or Electra, won't have to face a menacing set of brothers or aunts should they betray their spouse. But without these obligations--why marry? Gay marriage is as good as no marriage at all.
Oh, I want a gay marriage now!
(But, I see his attempt at trickery here. "Hey - if you're not going to have to be subject to the hellish side of marriage, you don't even need to get married! Why bother if it's just going to be fun and sex all the time?")
Sooner rather than later, the substantial differences between marriage and gay marriage will cause gay marriage, as a meaningful and popular institution, to fail on its own terms.
So, just like a large percentage of legal heterosexual marriages that involve no offspring, little in-law involvement, and partners who harbored no virginity guilt...
Wait. Is Schulman trying to protect gays from divorce? From making choices that will make them sad in the long run? Does Schulman, deep down, care about the gays?
Few men would ever bother to enter into a romantic heterosexual marriage--much less three, as I have done--were it not for the iron grip of necessity that falls upon us when we are unwise enough to fall in love with a woman other than our mom.
Not such an iron grip after all if you've done it three times, buddy. And we get it: you don't like women.
So if the failure of gay marriage will not affect gay people, who will it hurt? Only everybody else.
As kinship fails to be relevant to gays, it will become fashionable to discredit it for everyone. The irrelevance of marriage to gay people will create a series of perfectly reasonable, perfectly unanswerable questions: If gays can aim at marriage, yet do without it equally well, who are we to demand it of one another? Who are women to demand it of men?
Marriage was irrelevant long before gays wanted to do it. Heterosexual marriages have been failing for a long time. What does the failure of your own heterosexual marriages say about the necessity of marriage?
There is no doubt that women and children have suffered throughout human history from being over-protected and controlled. The consequences of under-protection and indifference will be immeasurably worse. In a world without kinship, women will lose their hard-earned status as sexual beings with personal autonomy and physical security. Children will lose their status as nonsexual beings.
We WILL? If gays marry, women will start getting raped more, be more controlled, and yet - at the same time - be less protected? This is all so confusing.
(And how did children and their non-sexual status come into this? Without marriage, children will be fair game? Aren't they fair game anyway? In some states, men can marry girls as young as 13 years old. Is a 13 year-old not a child?)
Every day thousands of ordinary heterosexual men surrender the dream of gratifying our immediate erotic desires. Instead, heroically, resignedly, we march up the aisle with our new brides...
Oh, you dashing, brave knights! (Three times over, in your case.)
...starting out upon what that cad poet Shelley called the longest journey, attired in the chains of the kinship system--a system from which you have been spared.
Yeah - consider yourselves lucky, gays!
If gay men and women could see the price that humanity--particularly the women and children among us--will pay, simply in order that a gay person can say of someone she already loves with perfect competence, "Hey, meet the missus!"--no doubt they will think again.
Oh, screw you and your "women and children." First, women and children don't belong in the same sentence. Not anymore. Not since men ruled women. Second, how sadly grasping of you to claim gay marriage will "harm the women and children!" as your best possible argument.
One more time: we don't need you. We women have done, and will do, just fine without your protection from you. We can have our babies without you, and we can protect those babies from you with the guns we buy with our own money.
Causes Kristen Tsetsi Supports
Planned Parenthood, SPCA, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America