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Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

Taking a Knee on Marriage Equality

Imagine there’s no heaven

It’s easy if you try

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people

Living for today… Aha-ah…

Imagine there’s no marriage

I wonder if you might

No marriage for anyone

Yes, you heard me right

Imagine all the people

Not involving the government in who they love…Aha-ah…

Okay, yes, he’s John Lennon and I’m not, but come along with me for a moment.

Amy Coney Barrett’s lifetime installment onto our land’s highest court is accompanied by her evidentiary positions that LGBTQ folks who would like to get married should not be allowed to. To put an even finer point it, this relegates LGBTQ people to sub-class citizens who do not get the same rights as everyone else. “Now hold on!” you might say. “She only believes that the United States should reverse marriage equality as the law of the land and give that decision to the states to make individually!” While that certainly can be the case in some non-prejudicial decisions, there’s too much evidence of Barrett’s actual prejudices to have that argument fly here. For one, she served for years on the Board of a private Christian school “…that effectively barred admission to children of same-sex parents and made it plain that openly gay and lesbian teachers weren’t welcome in the classroom.”, adhering to the school stance that “Homosexuality is an abomination against God, sex should occur only within marriage and marriage should only be between a man and a woman.”

She has also shown hostility to LGBTQ rights in her rulings, when she “…defended the Supreme Court’s dissenters on the landmark marriage equality case of Obergefell v. Hodges…”, in addition to a myriad of other threatening rulings and opinions against transgender Americans.

Despite this evidence of personal bias, even if one argues that there is no way to prove Barrett’s personal prejudices, she has already shown us that she did not approve of making marriage equality the law of the land. Her rulings, opinions, and affiliations pose direct threats to the liberties of LGBTQ Americans.

I can’t speak for the LGBTQ community, but as someone whose right to marry has never been used as a political currency in the courts, I find this to be blatantly against the alleged principles of the United States. Our global business card has “Freedom” and “Equality” emblazoned across it in glittery blue and red, just to make sure you don’t miss it. It’s our brand. Yet, when you hold the business card up to the light, you’ll find a hidden watermark disclaimer listing all the groups that don’t qualify. If countries were commercials, we’d be an ad for an asthma drug that buries in the fine print that the side effects include shortness of breath.

I propose that we get the government out of marriage. For everyone.

“Now hold on!” you might say. “That seems a bit extreme, doesn’t it?!”

Does it? I dare say that marriage itself is extreme. It certainly started out that way. Marriage as an institution was created thousands of years ago entirely to “…bind women to men, and thus guarantee that a man’s children were truly his biological heirs. Through marriage, a woman became a man’s property.” More on the less than illustrious origins of marriage here.

There were some updates along the way that made marriage slightly less transactional, but in the grand scheme of things, not much as changed. Women still are expected to relinquish their names/identities when they get married, hearkening directly to the only recently vestigial notion of being property.

Certainly, there are tax advantages to being married, but in the absence of marriage, allowing designations for tax filing partnerships seems like a reasonable potential reality.

Marriage also determines who gets to visit whom in the hospital — yet another scenario that could easily be addressed by another designation system.

This is all to say, is marriage the appendix of the modern human tradition? Still sticking around, often causing sudden and dramatic problems and requiring immediate removal, yet somehow still factory issued equipment?

Has marriage outlasted its usefulness?

It is very human to struggle let go of things we no longer need, like that 6th grade karate trophy, or jeans from college, or misbehaved tonsils. But perhaps it’s time to put marriage under the microscope and examine its cell structure a bit more closely.

While throughout most of history it was considered to be a building block, today, it is behaving like a virus.

A virus that makes nearly 50% of the country sick, requiring treatment known as a divorce.

A virus being used as biological warfare in the Supreme Court as this country grapples with who is a full citizen under the eyes of the flag and who is not.

A virus that requires women to invest $400 into a pink chiffon dress that they will only wear once as they stand witness to the 30-minute ceremony that symbolizes it.

Certainly, marriage is far from perfect. It is not the sacred and pure institution that religion touts it to be, and one need not look any farther than our own president’s gory and carnivalesque marital shenanigans as evidence of that. But as imperfect as it is, it’s still a part of American culture that is entwined in our legal system, and to exclude certain citizens from participating in that legal system is discrimination, pure and simple.

I’ve heard the argument that the LGBTQ community shouldn’t need a marriage ceremony to feel like their love is legitimate. So, why do you?

Perhaps, despite all of its flaws, profoundly sexist origins, and antiquated principles, marriage still serves a purpose beyond tax benefits. How often in life do we stand before our family, friends, and peers to have them bear witness to our out loud proclamations of love and commitment to another? To exchange vows with not only the betrothed, but our community at large, swapping gold and breaking glass to signify that something magical and significant is happening? Why would we, as a country, want to govern and regulate this magic based on prejudice? If there is anything 2020 has taught me, it’s that we need more love in this world, not less. More magic, not less. But less prejudice. Much less.

It might be time to come into the coach’s office, lay our jerseys on the desk, and demand that Rudy get to play in the last game of his college career.

If Rudy can’t play, then I don’t think the rest of us should play either.

If the government is involved in marriage, then all of its citizens should have equal access to it. Or no one should.

Imagine that.

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