Today’s marriage equality rulings have been roiling me with varying strands of elation and ambivalence. ?I’ll easily plead guilty to being a lamester party pooper cynic, but here’s how I look at it.

On the one hand, everyone should have equal protection under the law and the decisions reached today are a big step toward fully realizing that principle. ?People should have exactly the same right under the Constitution to marry someone of the same gender as they do the right to marry someone of a different race. ?Full stop.

On the other hand, I believe that marriage is an antiquated, sexist and ultimately heteronormative institution created primarily to make it painful and traumatic for people to disentangle themselves if things don’t work out — based on the idea that if divorce is hard, government and religion can coerce people into staying together.

For much of its history, marriage was all about transferring ownership of a woman from her father to her husband, which included, for some lucky husbands, that sweet, sweet dowry. ?But even in our more modern times the same principle obtains: lock two people up in the “bonds” of holy matrimony and then position governmental and ecclesiastical guards at the door to forcefully dissuade them from getting ?out.

In addition to making sure that all gay people have the right to enter into legally binding civic and religious contracts that carry the prospect of causing extreme trauma to the people involved if things don’t work out, why don’t we think more broadly and re-architect the way we recognize committed relationships and the basis on which church and state find themselves so overwhelmingly compelled to forcefully intrude into our private lives?

If two people want to check a box on a form and say to the world that they’re partnered up and living together in a committed relationship, there shouldn’t be any impediment to their being afforded all of the rights normally only available to married people. ?And when those people want to part ways, then they should be able to do just that without hiring a divorce attorney to ruin each other’s lives.

As a caveat: Yes, I realize that there are some implications regarding child custody and property division. ?But there are a number of relatively easy solutions that can be worked out at the same time we’re tearing marriage down from its pedestal.

So there you go. ?:-P


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