Real commitment more important than marriage

RACHEL STEWART
Last updated 11:25 28/05/2012

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OPINION: Over the last few weeks my ears have been burning. I blame Barack Obama.

His recent pronouncement in support of gay marriage should have made me – a card-carrying lesbian – feel upbeat. He managed to get the talking heads all fired up and the media and churches in a frenzy. A good thing, right? So why do I feel slightly queasy?

Honestly, having to endure earnest heterosexuals chewing the fat about the rights and wrongs of my sexual orientation has been about as interesting to me as, say, being in the audience at a Bride of the Year competition.

Listening to endless hate-filled media raves about same-sex relationships from religious fruit loops has almost sapped my will to live, nearly as much as the ramblings of the well meaning, who kindly want me to have what they have.

The old "til death us do part" gig.

At the risk of appearing ungrateful and churlish, I'm with Mitt Romney on this one. I agree with him that marriage was intended as a union between a man and a woman. Just not for the same strange reasons as he does.

I know that marriage as an institution has evolved throughout the ages but it is still loaded with a history that does not float my own personal boat. Why would I want to aspire to a solely heterosexual construct originally designed by the church to facilitate women becoming the property of men?

I live in a world, like you do, where most of friends are straight and many are married – some of them a number of times. One of my brothers is on to his fourth wife. Britney Spears managed 55 hours and, at the risk of anyone saying it's a generational thing, back in 1919 Rudolph Valentino and Jean Acker clocked up a mere six hours. So don't dare talk to me about the "sanctity of marriage".

My own relationship saw in 12 years earlier this month. We celebrated with a meal at a fine restaurant and neither of us looked deeply into the other's eyes and asked to civil union each other.

Even if marriage was a real option for us that conversation wouldn't have occurred over dinner either.

We enjoy a committed, stable, domestic partnership that is recognised in law under the Property (Relationships) Act and which is handy if we ever need to split up our life and assets. We don't need a civil union or marriage contract to be protected in law.

I don't think I've ever felt our relationship status is less or more than a heterosexual one – even if some of them quite often do.

We don't have a marriage licence or wear rings but still manage security, love and commitment.

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Many gay couples completely shun the civil union route as somehow not good enough. They are compelled to believe that emulating the marriage ritual is the only path to true equality.

Maybe they think it's a way of ultimately forcing society to accept and love them as they are. Unfortunately, bigotry can't be legislated out of existence.

Yet, by rejecting anything but marriage as the only "real deal" gay couples risk mimicking the heterosexual world they often mock and, more to the point, which often ridicules (and hates) them.

Why I have taken this view? Maybe it's because I am suspicious of the State at most every turn.

I also possess a strong streak of pure truculence that cannot accept that legalising gay marriage is a "gift" to be bestowed on me by a benevolent, all-knowing public. I am the kind of person who takes my own path in life – even if I need to clear it first, as is often sadly the case, with a scrub cutter.

Notwithstanding every word above, I defend to the death the right of every citizen to each enjoy the same civil liberties in law.

Despite my own personal position, I'll undoubtedly be proud of my country when the day comes, and it is coming, that Trevor and Trevor and Carol and Carol take their wedding vows in a church or courthouse.

Whether their marriages will work out any better than straight marriages is a given.

They will suffer the same marital ups and downs; from arguing about who cleans the toilet, whether the mother-in-law is visiting too much or which movie to watch. They might even climb Everest together or do it apart.

In other words, like any romantic domestic partnership, it is neither sacred nor profane. It's just a decision – a very important one – about sharing a life with your favourite other human being on the planet (that you know of) and that's about it.

Ritual or not, that's more than enough for me.

- Waikato

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