Real, Honest-to-God Marriage, It’s Our Right!! by: Silver Libertarian

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(This article was written for Outright Libertarians sometime in 2003.)

The institutions of Marriage and Family were already well established when the first tribal leaders were chosen, when the first persons saw visions of God (or of the devil) and told others about it, and when the first written languages were invented.

Marriage is not dependent on governments or mainstream churches for validation. Because, in spite of what else marriage may have become, it has always been the right of free and responsible individuals to create Family where none existed before, and to do so according to their own evaluation of their needs.

Today, as throughout history, Marriage commitments happen every day with only their own mutual approval to validate their existence. These marriages were once acknowledged in law as Common Law Marriages. But fearing that gays would use these laws as the basis of claiming legal marriage status, most states have rewritten their law to exclude us, or have done away with these laws altogether.

Straight conservatives consider gay and lesbian families to be fake and contrived, and they would like us to think of them like that too. But they cannot seem to live with the fact that we can voluntarily create loving and supportive families when they need the dictatorship of the law, governments, and mainstream churches to keep their families together.

Marriage is our Right! And we need to stop characterizing our marriage relationships in other terms! Tell others you are Married if you consider yourself to be. We don’t need Democrats pandering to us in public then working against us behind the scenes. We don’t need the Republican Liberty Caucus and other middle-of-the-road politicians trying to sell us on a fake form of marriage. We already have the Right to Marry, but we must claim it.

The Metropolitan Community Church is a prime example of a church that swims against the current by cheerfully offering a marriage ceremony to everyone, including gays and even straights excluded from ceremonies in other churches. They call them Holy Unions instead of Marriages, but for over 35 years they have consistently promoted long-term, responsible, marriage relationships in the gay/queer community.

And even now MCC continues to lead the way toward getting the government to stop discriminating against us. MCC’s founder, Rev. Troy Perry, started something new that he hopes will hasten the time when the US government will recognize gay marriages. He is encouraging gay/queer couples to flood marriage license offices around the country on Valentines Day every year requesting marriage licenses.

Facts to keep in mind: We already have the right to marry even if no one else acknowledges it. There is value in the fact that so many gay and lesbian marriages have succeeded, without a license and without the perks that legal marriage gives to straights. And finally, the fact of not having marriage as a legal option is undeniably a part of what is now rightfully called Gay Culture.

In other words, if gay marriage were legalized tomorrow I believe a surprisingly low percentage of gays and lesbians would actually take advantage of it. However, the legalization movement has merit and is worthy of support because it will make legal marriage available to those who actually want it.

I believe, as does the Libertarian Party, that the perfect solution would be for the government to get out of marriage completely, no licensing, no special tax breaks or legal freedoms. But that won’t happen until Libertarians are elected in much larger numbers.

Democrats say they want to equalize access to legal marriage for all. But that won’t happen until their actions start matching their rhetoric.

Conservative Republicans want to make marriage illegal for everyone but themselves and their opposite-sex partners. But their dominance over marriage will not last much longer.

It is more likely that the politics of compromise will succeed in bastardizing some middle-ground marriage legalization, like Domestic Union. But if they do, it will not contain the word “marriage”, it will not contain all the benefits and freedoms available to married straights, and it will satisfy no one.

One thing is clear, government needs to apply the marriage laws equally or abolish those laws. Because the institutions of marriage and family are actually made stronger in an environment of freedom where each marriage or family decides for themselves the parameters of their relationships.

September 16th, 1979 was the day Roland and I made our first commitment to each other, so it is the day each year we celebrated as our anniversary. My parents had already accepted my being gay and always treated Roland like a son-in-law. But openly they called him their “adopted son” to give some explanation for the closeness of our relationship without admitting the truth. Faithfully every year as our anniversary approached, I would remind my parents of the impending event. But nothing was ever said or done on or around that date: no “Happy Anniversary”, no card, no nothing. So, after several years of hoping that they would come around, I stopped celebrating or even acknowledging their anniversary. It wasn’t until a couple of years after Roland’s death, more than 17 years after that September day, that my Mother asked me why I never acknowledged their anniversary. I told her calmly, “Because you never acknowledged ours.”

Those who would “defend marriage” and “the family” by legally restricting other people’s right to marry and form their own families actually damage the very things they seek to protect. As they tighten their grip, more and more people slip through their fingers, or rather, escape through them. As a result, fewer and fewer straight couples decide to legally marry each year.

Only by claiming our relationships as marriages, loudly and insistently, as Rev. Perry of MCC advocates, can we truly educate the public to the problems they cause us by disallowing our marriages.

If you and your spouse have made marriage-like commitments to each other, if you have exchanged vows, or if you are in a “tried and true,” long-term relationship; I challenge you to call it what it is. Defy all those who would deny you your right, claim it, until society recognizes your relationship for what it is — Marriage. Not some fake shadow of marriage; but a Real, Honest-to-God MARRIAGE.

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