If I thought most heterosexual Americans actually took marriage seriously, I might be convinced to defend it.
But to suggest that allowing couples of the same sex to marry will somehow destroy the so-called “sanctity of marriage” defies statistics.
And, according to those statistics, around half of all first-time heterosexual marriages will end in divorce and the odds for divorce increase from there for second and third marriages. My grandfather was married seven times, so I might be the wrong guy to ask about that particular institution.
In other words, most heterosexual couples haven’t bought into the whole “till death do us part” philosophy. I can only assume they weren’t paying much attention to the words they were being asked to repeat inside the chapel. They might take the vows more seriously if they knew there wasn’t a party waiting when the ceremony was over.
It might also help if the guy who is marrying you isn’t dressed like Elvis.
As I’ve mentioned more than once, we all have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That means we ought to have equal access to the things that make us happy.
Near the top of that “happy” list is love. Most of us want to be loved and really like the warm feeling we get in the belly when we love someone back. Hallmark built a company around that fuzzy feeling and country western music was born after someone broke what later became known as an achy, breaky heart.
Divorce lawyers have made fortunes when couples have realized too late that the fuzzy feeling in the belly was actually gas, not love.
You could make an argument that marriage represents the icing on the love cake. It symbolizes a commitment, “To be true…in good times and in bad…in sickness and in health” and to “love and honor” your partner all the days of your life.
If we can agree that a same-sex couple is capable of the same kind of love as a heterosexual couple, why should they be denied an opportunity to seal that in marriage? I know gay couples who have been together a lot longer than most of my straight and formerly married friends.
The U.S. Supreme Court is being asked this week to weigh in on the issue, with proponents arguing that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, while opponents trying to persuade the high court that states have a right to ban such unions and that marriage is ultimately designed for the purpose of procreation.
After all, history is filled with shotgun weddings.
At least one justice didn’t seem to buy the procreation argument, pointing out that proof of one’s fertility is not a prerequisite for marriage. If it were, older couples, sterile couples, or guys with vasectomies probably wouldn’t qualify for a marriage license.
And we all know that marriage doesn’t automatically qualify you for parenthood. History is also filled with examples of straight married people who should never have been allowed to reproduce. You see them every day in the police blotter, or on reruns of “The Jerry Springer Show.”
The high court also debated whether married same-sex couples could care for children as well as straight couples, saying there hasn’t been enough data collected to determine that.
There has, on the other hand, been plenty of data collected on children raised by dysfunctional straight parents, or by single parents. In fact, you could make an argument that children raised in two-parent homes will always have a better shot at life.
Seems to me that the issue is not whether a same-sex couple should be allowed to marry, but how the institution of marriage — the joining of two human beings who are committed to one another — can be better secured so that the children might benefit from that union.
The Supreme Court justices are probably wondering how this issue landed at their collective feet. And most Americans are tired of even debating the issue, probably realizing that in the big picture, same-sex marriage is a nonstarter. The only thing I ask from my married friends is that they don’t have sex in front of me and that they call before dropping by the house.
Other than that, I don’t care if they share the same gender, or a common dislike for liver. I’ve got bigger fish to fry, like fixing my electric fence so the damned dog stays home.
Which brings me back to happiness and the pursuit of it. Who am I to deny a couple — any couple — a shot at a happy marriage? If it improves the chances that the average marriage will last longer than three or four years – and it should, since there should be very few arguments regarding the toilet seat – I say go for it.
Jeff Ackerman is publisher of The News-Review. He can be reached at 541-957-4263 or firstname.lastname@example.org.