What’s the Big Deal about Marriage Anyway?

Marriage Equality DOMA

by Hester Prynne

Despite it being Spring Break and being in a different country soaking up cancer causing yet totally bangin’ rays, I can’t seem to escape the red and pink equality image tied to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) debate back in the States. Basically, the time to define marriage is nigh and the SCOTUS are currently hashing out whether a formal definition of marriage as the union between a man and a woman is just. To preface this piece, I am all for gay marriage. All marriage is gravy by my standards, and I would love to explain exactly why. Further, I intend to delve a little deeper into the anomaly that is my inability to imagine any marriage.

Once again, I am all for gay marriage. Of course, I believe the run-of-the-mill concepts of “all love is equal” and respecting all unions. But I think the point that is most striking to me is the argument that gay marriage would devalue straight marriages. I really don’t understand that at all. James van der Beek, bless him, said earlier this week, “I’m confused… how is two gay people getting married a threat to my marriage? Am I doing it wrong?” I don’t get it either, Dawson, don’t fret. My issue here is not the argument itself, but the fact that there are people who are this curious about what is going on in relationships of people they’ve never met.

For example, Susie Q and Jane Doe in Minnesota love each other deeply, are committed to each other and want to join lives in the name of God and the State. John Smith and his wife, Lorna, in Mississippi, are lovingly married and joined together in a ceremony for the same valiant reasons as Susie and Jane. But they will never meet these two women, nor will information about their unions be shared with the other couple. Why, then, does it matter to the Smiths if our lesbian hypotheticals get together? It is very flattering to think that my love life really affects the marriage of someone across the country, but I don’t think anything I’ve done or will do romantically would be so important that a Republican senator should get his or her panties in a twist about it. Isn’t it bizarre that people are so conceited that they think the business of total strangers is a direct and personal attack on their own lives?

The other night, my girls and I were at a club and were chatting amongst ourselves. A girl drunkenly came up to us and demanded we stop talking about her because “it was like so obvious and it’s just like it’s just rude ya know.” We had not even so much as recognized her presence, let alone minced words about her, but she believed she was important enough to influence the conversations of others. This is exactly the issue that I am seeing with opponents of LGBTQ marriage. At the root of it all, I view the argument that a gay marriage would directly alter the straight union of others as extremely arrogant. These gay individuals never think twice about the straight marriage, but the straight couples who oppose it are waltzing up and screaming at their alleged adversaries to stop talking about them in the club of marriage!

Now now, for you readers out there who disagree with this point, I am ultimately saying that the base of this issue lies not in biblical verses or legal rules, but in the fact that everyone is pretty full of himself or herself these days.

I think that this issue of gay marriage and DOMA comes directly from the fact that we are living in such a socially accessible age. If we didn’t have the technology to be nosey as all hell 100 percent of the time, would this issue be so huge? Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that there will always be people on the offense against gay marriage regardless of logic or opinion (ahem, see ya in 15 years, it might be embarrassing!). No, because social media, texting and constant contact has elevated everyone’s sense of self. Everyone is a celebrity. Because the world is so accessible, it is easier to picture yourself as the center of it all. That allows people to see the marriage of a complete stranger as a direct attack, despite the fact that the love between two people (regardless of gender) only involves those in the union. When we can remove ourselves by a step or two, doesn’t it just seem silly to care this much about other people’s business?

However, I think my issues with the marriage question are even more deeply rooted because I am a flawed girl. I am not saying that to be dramatic or flippant. I am flawed because I have never pictured my wedding. I have no idea in which season I would get married. I have never imagined my perfect dress. I mean, at the end of the Sex and the City movie, I thought, “Gee, that wedding looked pretty easy.” If it were acceptable, I’m sure I’d be fine in oxfords, a cocktail dress and a fur coat at City Hall. My ideas of marriage are much more broad than the floral arrangements and Nordstrom registries. My wedding would have to be simple, like fur coat simple, because it is intimate and touching to make a connection between yourself and another person. In marriage, you are literally betting someone half of all your shit that you will love them forever. I kid you not that I see that as an incredibly intimate bet. Why should I need to say a vow in front of all my friends and extended family when the words I say matter to only one person in the world? Why is the size of my engagement ring so important to other people when it really is just a piece of physical collateral that I will show up on the wedding day? I am not joining together with everyone else, just my significant other. Why has our society made weddings and marriages into a community affair?

Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer
Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer

I look to the sublime example of Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer. You may see Ms. Windsor’s name popping up throughout the DOMA debates because, at 83 years young, she is a vibrant and fervent supporter of gay marriage rights. She and her late wife Thea are a shining (and homosexual!) example of exactly the way I view marriage. As with any couple in love, they had a fantastic, whirlwind romance that truly displays how soul-matched they were for each other (Click to read, it’s really remarkable). The night they met, they danced the night away. Thea proposed with a diamond-encrusted brooch, which is so Big-and-Carrie and amazing. So that launched me to fan girl status. But it is something that Edie said about marriage that was so poignant. She describes the years prior to their marriage were “just dancing” and said:

“The fact is, marriage is this magic thing. Marriage symbolizes commitment and love like nothing else in the world. And it’s known all over the world. […] Wherever you go, you’re married and […] it meant a difference in feeling the next day.”

Marriage does change the dynamic of a relationship. Marriage enhances the connection between two people who are so deeply in love that they want to take this step. But the effects of marriage are limited to the couple getting married. As much as everyone and their mother claim the effects of marriage are far-reaching, the definition of tis span is not clear. It is far-reaching, but only throughout the lives of the married couple. As Edie said, her marriage to her Thea meant a different feeling. This will send waves throughout her entire life, amplifying the power of that original love infinitely. Two worlds, Edie’s and Thea’s, officially become one and this changes everything for them. But how does that change the worlds of anyone else?

When, or if, I get married, everyone else can be damned. I don’t need someone I’ve never met, breathing down my neck and criticizing my choice cutlery at a celebration of my own love for someone else. I need my person to simply, honestly, and lovingly affirm that they feel the way I do – that is IT. At the end of all of these debates, I see the main issue as a loss of the original point of marriage. It is an act of love for two individuals. It is not a party. It is not a political statement. It is not a slight to any other married couple. Marriage is a simply beautiful thing and that’s what must be remembered.

(Editor’s note: The views and opinions of Hester Prynne may not reflect the views and opinions of MODA Magazine or the WUD Publications Committee.)

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