National Organisation for Marriage's blog, in concert with the familyscholars.org, offering the opinion of average person...a waitress in Ohio...."Why do we have marriage?" Her answer?...
“I guess in a way to keep families together. Because if you think about it, if you have a guy and a girl who spend their lives together, or who intend to spend their lives together, if they don’t get married, and have children [while unmarried], it’s too easy of a getaway. You know, whereas if you’re married you’re talking about divorce, you’re talking about splitting this and splitting that, you know? Some states I think require counseling now if you want to get divorced. So I think it’s kinda nice because you can’t just over something stupid one day totally call off your marriage, you know? You still have a chance to work at it, you know? Which, is maybe a good thing, maybe it’s not a good thing. Maybe it’s more to keep people—or families—together, instead of everybody have a momma and poppa over here and moms here, dads there, you’ve got four step-kids, four regular kids, you know? Yeah, it’d be complicated [without marriage], there’d be kids all over the frickin’ place. Next thing you know you’re dating a third cousin and you don’t even realize it because mom went with this person and dad went with this person and they both split and went with these people. So I think maybe it will, ummm, save a little bit of chaos….I just kind of pulled that out of nowhere…”
First I would like to say that I am casting aside the ancient reasons for marriage that often included marrying to ally families for financial and/or politcal gain. Here I would like to focuse more on moder reasons for marriage and I'm sure this womans opinion would be echoed by many more average people. Essentially, the argument is that Marriage provides a structure that binds a family together and impells them to fullfill their obligations to each other. True enough. But the intent of organisations who used her words was to show that marriage is a family structure. The implication being that gays and lesbians don't have families of their own and that we are somehow inherently part of the "chaos" described in this womans opinion. The problem with this is, if you take her definition of the function of marriage at face value, it absolutely includes gays and lesbians as well. After all, why would it not be important that our families have that same bond. We have children and obligations to each other as spouses so how does that differ substantially from the needs of a heterosexual couple. Two words...it doesn't.
I think it needs to be said here that this vision of marriage's function comes with the implication that no one...straight or gay...can keep it in their pants. Apparently you all are running around impregnating each other out of wedlock and leaving a trail of children in your wake. And here I thought promiscuity was only a gay failing...*/sarcasm off*...But this attitude betrays a rather dim view of humanity and lays the blame solely on morals. If they got married, the logic goes, then they would HAVE to keep their sexual antics within the bond of their relationships and more couples would stay together. My answer? think again.
From a social/emotional standpoint, getting legally married changes how our families, friends, and those who surround our lives view our relationships. For instance, I have been with my husband now for almost a decade and a half. Only a tiny slice of that time has been spent legally married. But no matter how long we have been together, family often treats us as if we are not permanent...like we could just get over it and walk away at any moment. But...then my brother gets married and family and friends start asking long term questions like, "when are you two going to have kids?" Already they look at his relationships with romantic thoughts of "forever", yet our relationship is still impermanent. Being able to stand before them and say those vows sends a clear message that we intend "forever" as well....to the very best of our abilities. Accept it...don't accept it...thats up to the individual, but marriage sends a clear message that we intend to tackle life together come what may. He is no longer my "friend", boyfriend, significant other, or partner, he is my "husband" and that carries meaning within our society...and just like the word "marriage", the labels are important because of the meanings they carry.
second is the legal aspect of marriage. I don't want to beat a dead horse about the rights that unmarried same-sex couples lose out on...even those in civil partnerships....because it been covered extensively already. Marriage provides many protections and benefits that define us as full legal citizens, equal under the law. As an example, this last tax season Jay and I would have been able to recieve an additional $4600 in tax refund had our marriage been recognized federally. That's money that is sorely needed at this point in our lives and would have been put to good use. Marriage would have protected Clay Greene from losing most of his possesions when the state sold all of his and Harold Sculls belongings in order to "pay for their care"when they were forcibly sepparated. Marriage may have prevented Lisa Pond from dying alone of a brain annuerism in a Floriday hospital because her partner and children were not recognized as family. This is just to name a few examples of how legal marriage impacts our lives and why it is important for everyone.
My final point is that the people who posted the quote above have a reason for doing so and it has nothing to do with "preserving traditional marriage". It has everything to do with preventing gay and lesbian people from attaining any form of societal recognition and...if they can...drive us backwards. Maggie Gallagher herself has said that she doesn't mind civil partnerships as long as we "don't call it marriage". This is her false effort to appear reasonable to the American public. But what happens when we take her comments at face value? Probably something like what happened in Oregon where NOM embroiled itself in the fight to block civil partnership benefits...or NOW in Wisconsin, where Civil Partnership is being legally challenged because opponents feel that it violates the states ban on sam-sex marriage....(what the hell?!)
NOM and those that stand on their side of the aisle will not be content with stopping at marriage bans. They will continue on to challenge civil partnerships, employment and housing protections, and anything else that serves to give them a reason to exist...namely, driving us back into the closet until we are again illegal. That is their real goal and why the legal protections afforded by marriage are not only about being treated fairly under the law, but also about protection of our rights as citizens.
This is my answer for why we have marriage and I acknowledge that it is only a small part of its importance and function but, to go into them all would take longer than anyone would have the stamina to read. Plus everyone would answer this question differently. However varied the reasons for marrying, denying that gays and lesbians have the same needs, motivations, and protections is simply untrue.