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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Gays Aren't "Redefining" Marriage, But We Are Ahead of the Curve

By Cristian Asher -

The times, they are a’changing. And so is marriage. This isn’t the work of gays and lesbians — as I've been shouting for awhile now — it’s a result of the ways society is changing overall. Now the Washington Post has chimed in with a similar message, while two articles in the New York Times detail that process and even indicate that the way gays and lesbians approach marriage may be happier and more sustainable than all those “traditions” the far right keeps harping on about.
The Post editorial gives the basics: marriage used to be about property and enforcing a strict male-female hierarchy, but now it’s about love and partnership. That property question was not just about land and inheritance, incidentally — women and children were, for many centuries, legally counted as possessions, too, so marriages were literally business transactions between fathers and fiancés. The structure and legal underpinnings of marriage perpetuated this, specifically working to keep women in a secondary, powerless position.
But all that changed, partly due to changing attitudes and partly (as Justin Wolfers has written in the New York Times) to the practical fact that technological advancements made it unnecessary for one spouse to be tied full-time to the home. As men and women grew more equal, marriage came to be understood as a partnership rather than a hierarchy. Now, the revolution of marriage is complete; rather than being a duty, it is seen as one choice among many, and its success is judged by the happiness of its participants.
And that’s where we gays come in. We’ve had equal relationships for a long time — no hierarchies, no strict division of labor, no difference in rights or power. Our relationships certainly aren't perfect, but the whole equality thing is a language we speak.
And now that heterosexual marriage has caught up to us, it turns out that the “me-centric” approach to marriage is the happiest way to do things. The Times reports multiple studies and experts that are saying exactly this, and even a quiz to measure how much your spouse expands your own horizons as a measure of the sustainability of your union. The idea is that two people who are equal, and who push each other to grow and evolve as individuals, make the happiest couples and the most lasting unions.
In other words — surprise! — equality is a good thing. It's good for everyone, in politics and the bedroom. And when it comes to the latter, gay people have been way ahead of the curve.
We're not destroying marriage. We are, in fact, leading the charge on its latest and happiest version.


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