Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Marriage: 'Gold standard for human relationships.'
Jonathan Rauch, my favorite advocate of same-sex marriage, sees two very different stories in New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey's dramatic resignation. The political story is one of a kind: "A rich and seemingly unique concatenation of homosexuality, adultery, suspicions of political featherbedding, and rumors of extortion and sexual harassment made the McGreevey scandal look like an aberration."
But the personal, human story — the tragedy of a gay man who marries a woman, betraying himself and eventually his wife — is all too common:
Opponents of same-sex marriage sometimes insist that gays can marry. Marriage, they say, isn't all about sex. It can be about an abstinent, selfless love. Well, as Benjamin Franklin said, where there is marriage without love there will be love without marriage. I'm always startled when some of the same people who say that gays are too promiscuous and irresponsible to marry turn around and urge us into marriages that practically beg to end in adultery and recklessness.
For most human beings, the urge to find and marry one's other half is elemental. It is central to what most people regard as the good life. Gay people's lives are damaged when that aspiration is quashed, of course. Mr. McGreevey can probably attest to that. But so are the lives of spouses, of children. Mr. McGreevey can probably attest to that, too. . . .
The McGreevey debacle suggests why all Americans, gay and straight alike, have a stake in universalizing marriage. The greatest promise of same-sex marriage is not the tangible improvement it may bring to today's committed gay couples, but its potential to reinforce the message that marriage is the gold standard for human relationships: that adults and children and gays and straights and society and souls all flourish best when love, sex and marriage go together. Nothing will ever make the discovery of homosexual longings easy for a young person. But homosexuality need not mean growing up, as Jim McGreevey and I and many others did, torn between marriage and love.
("Imperfect Unions, Jonathan Rauch, New York Times 8.15.04, reg req'd)
Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 18 August 2004 at 10:17 AM