Most of us gays and lesbians in California are elated about our new found legal right to marry. The celebrations have begun all over California. Family and friends are eager to wish us well and celebrate our love with us. However, in the week since gay marriages have begun to take place I have heard some mixed feelings and concerns about our gay nuptials.
These mixed feelings sound like: "The idea of getting married to my partner feels like locking myself in a cage and throwing away the key!" Egypt "I never really thought about marriage and never felt that it was something that I needed to do." I have also heard and feel strongly myself the concern that "If I get married I am buying into a heterosexist, patriarchal, dysfunctional institution?"
I personally think danger can be inherent in the concept of gay marriage. During my time as a gay activist in my early twenties I was espousing the idea that for gays and lesbians to get married means assimilation into a heterosexist, patriarchal, religious, misogynist, and overall dysfunctional institution. Let's face it; As of 2005 US Census Bureau reported that over fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. This is not inspiring. Nonetheless, as an adult I am embracing the concept of being the change I wish to see in the world. Actually, I am doing this more from the perspective of love and being the love I wish to see in the world. Marriage is about so much more than an institution or dysfunctional construct or labeling our relationships with the word marriage. It is about the freedom to love without being treated as a second-class citizen and I am one hundred percent behind free loving. If I dare to look at a newspaper or watch the news I am incessantly inundated with negativity, violence, hatred, and fear. We do not live in a world where an over abundance of love renders it practical to make any form of it illegal. I do hope to see a time when an overabundance of love exists in the world and all of it is legal.
Gays and lesbians have been cultural, social, political, artistic, and healing pioneers for a very long time. We have also been pioneers within the context of relationships. We have experienced, risked, leaped, loved, nurtured, in many relationship forms. We have become parents. We have had relationships. We have committed to more than one person. I am sure people have done things that I probably do not know about. Some of this does not work for some people and some of it does work for others. That is the beauty and the power. Many of us have been willing to explore what works for us individually and navigate our own paths, hopefully, without judging each other. I assert that now that we are legally able to do what many choose to label marriage we can add this to the list of terrains in which we call ourselves pioneers.
The danger I allude to above comes when we begin to feel an obligation to emulate heterosexuality because "they" have granted us the right to marry. A particular example of this danger is illustrated when our own community leaders, specifically, Council Member, John Duran and Lorri L. Jean, CEO, Gay and Lesbian Center, Los Angeles suggest we tone down our authenticity at our gay and lesbian wedding celebrations. I understand well that this is sourced in the fear that the media may acquire an image that can be skewed negatively and help Protect Marriage gain victory in the ban to overturn the legalization of gay marriage in November. Nonetheless, it is always disturbing when one has to be told to be less than authentic in order to be granted a birthright.
Also, I am fascinated and deeply disturbed when radically structured community's like Polygamist's at Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, TX have their children returned to them after allegations of child abuse. I know deeply loving gays and lesbians who have all but legally adopted (because they could not) a partner's child who then lost the child after the partner's death. I can not help but assume that if the children at Yearning for Zion belong to gays and lesbians they would not have been returned home.
I am not suggesting that gays and lesbians not get married. I am bringing to awareness the possibility of feeling obliged to emulate relationship constructs at do not work for everyone including straight people. As a matter of fact I fully support marriage within the boundaries of gays and lesbians continuing to be pioneers in the creation of relationship paradigms that the fact that we can now identify as "married."
Copyright 2008 Jason Mannino. All Rights Reserved.
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