Reading eloriane’s recent great post on marriage and the interesting comments to it brought to mind something about this marriage issue that’s always pissed me off: the idea that marriage as a religious institution supersedes it as a social institution, or a legal one. That’s certainly not what the post or the comments say, but rather what Christian and other religious fundamentalists clearly believe. I’m going to point my rant-y mouth at Christianity though, because in the United States, it’s predominantly Christians who are blocking same-sex marriage (although this is likely simply because Christianity is the dominant religion in the U.S.)*. And it’s not just that Christians focus on the religious aspect of marriage, but that, arrogantly, they believe that they own marriage, as an idea, as an institution. And that marriage is a religious institution above and beyond what it is as a social or legal one. And as a non-Christian this is frankly appalling.
Heads up, my bigoted Christian neighbours: YOU DO NOT OWN THE CONCEPT OF MARRIAGE. You don’t. You did not invent it. Your god is not the author of that idea. People of no religion get married all the time. People of other religions also get married. Religiously. And have been doing so for longer than 2000 years. People have been doing it all over the world in all sorts of different cultures with all sorts of different religions (how commonly they are deeply patriarchal, of course, is another post altogether!). Does your own personal concept of what marriage means have to be shoved down everybody else’s throats? Is a Sikh woman and man not married if they do so in a temple? What about Hindus? Are Hindus not married because they don’t do so in a church? Oh that’s different, you say. “That’s still a man and a woman.” Well, WHO is to say that THAT is what the definition of marriage is? Why do YOU get to decide? Why not the Pagans? Why not the First Nations? Because, even if you don’t come right out and say it, you behave as if 1) the definition of marriage comes from your religion, and 2) your religion supersedes all others. Also, I think that basically homosexuality squicks you out and you hide your bigotry behind religion and tradition. The idea of marriage being between one man and one woman is mostly a religious one, and as such, you have no right to force me to follow that.
What ever happened to freedom of religion? Am I not free to not be a Christian and not follow Christian tenets? You cannot, you simply CANNOT argue that the rest of us must follow your religion. The arrogance.
And I’m speaking as someone who will never get married, not ever, for all the feminist reasons that make marriage as a social/legal institution problematic (see the comments to eloriane’s post). I simply cannot get over signing a legal contract to be in a romantic, sexual relationship with someone. I cannot get over the ownership/prostitutional flavour of that (interesting arguments about reforming social/legal institutions aside). However, I will fight endlessly, constantly, to ensure that marriage is open to everyone, because it’s not just about what I would choose, or my feminist arguments (though those are valid and need to be addressed concerning marriage as an institution), it’s also about acceptance in the larger social community. For me and my also-female loved one to stand together and declare our love in our community, and to have that recognized, officially, legally, is a statement of equality**. And I think that’s why homophobes hate it so much. Simply, it legitimizes same-sex romantic relationships.
And ultimately, that is my reason for fighting for it.
* yes I know that countries dominated by other religions are equally homophobic. I’m yelling at my neighbours in particular, this time. ** yes this does mean that marriage is about equality in one situation and inequality in another. welcome to intersectionality – road maps are challenging to read! ***p.s. yes, I know. I fell in love with formatting in this post. Don’t judge us :-p