Being married in California anywhere

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June 18 2008 9:20 AM

Being married in California anywhere

Note: As I mentioned in my last post, I accidentally posted this entry before it was done being written. I still had a few half-formed thoughts in it, but this is the final version.

Y'know, what with TAM coming up, my running around trying to get stuff done, and my in-laws having just moved into the next town over, I totally forgot that Monday was the first day gays could be legally married in California.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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That rocks. The marriage part, I mean, not the forgetting part.

I've had several gay friends over time, and many seemed happy (about what you'd expect proportionally). Two are essentially, if not legally, married, and they seem really happy. They have a kid, they love each other, they do, y'know, stuff that human beings do.

I'm not sure I understand love, since I'm neither a poet nor a philosopher. So I figure it's probably not best for me to say who can fall in love with each other and who can't. Marriage is mostly a civic thing now, with legal and tax ramifications, so for that it shouldn't matter who's the bride and who's the groom, or who's the brides, or who's the grooms.

Some people are against this whole thing. They think marriage should be restricted, limited. I don't get that. Sometimes they argue that we already restrict marriage; for example, we don't let kids marry each other. But then, kids aren't of legal age and therefore may not be able to make a fully adult decision*. But two adults? Of sound mind and so on? Seems like it's a good idea to let them decide if they should get married or not.

I mean, we all want the government to be as small as possible, right, to do things only a government should or can do? Trying to stop two adults making personal decisions will only make the government bigger, having to write new laws and all that. That sounds to me like a government too big to drown in a bathtub, don't you agree?

Maybe there's more to it. I'd hate to not have all the information out there. So let's see.

Some people don't like gays. I figure that's OK. I mean, it's OK that they get to have their own opinions, even if I think some of those opinions are silly or wrong or ill-informed. Some people think that being gay is really wrong, and that I'm the one who's silly. But I never seem to get a good answer from folks like that when I ask, why is homosexuality wrong? What do they mean by "wrong"? Homosexuality occurs in the animal kingdom, for example, so I'm thinking it's natural. Some people think it's a sickness, but I don't see that either. It's not caused by a bacterium, or a virus, or some sort of damage to the brain, or a chemical imbalance. How are they being sick?

Maybe some people don't hate it, they're just uncomfortable with it, like seeing something icky. Well, sure! That's probably because they're not used to it, and so seeing it makes them feel odd, like having Dick York replaced by Dick Sargent. It just seems wrong. But that's just a temporary reaction. In a while you get used to it, and when you see it you say, "Eh. Seen it".

People are amazingly resilient.

But the one thing that really confuses me, that really doesn't make sense to me -- and I like to think I'm a fairly smart guy, so someone help me out here -- is when people say that allowing gay marriage somehow threatens the sanctity of heterosexual marriage.

I mean, I don't get it. How can two men or two women getting hitched hurt one man and one woman doing the same thing? Certainly, with a 50% divorce rate among heterosexual marriages, this sanctity I hear so much about is already pining for the fjords. Seems like that's a mighty thin razor's edge to be dancing on.

I have a pretty good marriage. There isn't one woman in ten [Ed.: oops, typo] a billion who would marry me at all, let along stay with me and my cosmic obsession for 13 years now. And you know what? We're pretty happy! Oh, we have our issues (evidently, it's irritating that I bite my fork when I eat), but still and all, I did pretty well.

If my two gay friends got married, I don't really see how that hurts me. In fact, it would make my life even better. Just think! I would bring them flowers to celebrate, and Mrs. BA would bake her incredible cookies. Those make everyone happy. And even better than that, I would know my friends are happy. They would have been happy before, of course, but there is something special about telling someone you want to spend the rest of your life with them, and have it be recognized by everyone. There's a bit of a sense of permanence about that, I suspect, of import, since everyone is figuratively watching you make that promise. My friends would get to experience that.

And, of course, they would know that they finally have their Constitutionally-guaranteed right to be seen equally under the law.

That would be pretty cool, too.

Don't you think?

This essay was inspired, obviously, by the new California law, and my friends, but also by John Scalzi's essay on marriage. And by A Real Girl for sending me the link to it, and reminding me why I liked it.


*Of course, you can argue over the specific age and even if there should be one, but that's not apropos of this particular discussion.