Marriage


"While same-sex marriage redresses an inequality between gays and straights, it reinforces inequality between married and unmarried people. It will force homosexuals, as it now forces heterosexuals, to sign on to a particular state-sponsored, religion-based definition of their relationship if they want full rights as parents and members of households...

"Historically, a central function of marriage has been to enforce a repressive religious morality that enshrines heterosexual intercourse as the only licit sexual act, signifying the subordination of sexual pleasure to procreation... a hierarchy with father ruling over dependent wife and children" (Ellen Willis. "Can Marriage Be Saved?" The Nation, July 5, 2004: 16).

"Marriage is presented as the path to personal and familial (and therefore, societal) salvation. Individual responsibility thus masks a broader effort to privatize dependency... This wasy of organizing the world leaves us with a social and political system in which concern for children and other dependents is expressed only as concern for our own children and members of our own family... the concept fails to represent our society's collective dimensions... the obligations we owe as members of society.

"We have lost the sense that there should be some notion of collective responsibility to all children (and all families) that is not discharged merely because we take care of our own" (Martha Fineman. "Can Marriage Be Saved?" The Nation, July 5, 2004: 18).


"... family itself is a profoundly atavistic concept. In fact, socialists and feminists through the centuries have had simply terrific reasons for wanting to get rid of it. (1) It's brutal. All over the world, families are violent and abusive -- at least an extraordinary percentage of them are -- and family status is used from Manhattan to Montevideo as permission for violence. (2) Throughout history, family has been the linchpin of a pervasive social view that encourages favoring one's own blood-line, tribe, race and nation above all others... (3) Family, even today, tethers women to childcare, and in some places to sexual slavery...

"Family sucks, in loads of ways... But fortunately or unfortunately, we have never found anything to take its place. Nother has ever been tried as an alternative that has cuased less misery... We seem to be stuck with the family...

"... the enshrinement of family and marriage oppresses singles, childless people and the happily promiscuous (or poly-amorous) with a moralistic and ridiculously unitary vision of the way people ought to live" (Donna Minkkowitz. "Wedding Vows." The Nation, July 5, 2004: 36-38).


"There's much undisputed evidence that married people are, on average, wealthier, healthier, and better educated than their single counterparts. Even the novice student of statistics will tell you that association does not mean causation. -- that being poor, unwell and uneducated is as likely to discourage marriage as the other way around. Nevertheless, the notion that tying the knot can alleviate poverty and bring about positive social change has become the central justification for the Bush Administration's push for low-income women to get and stay married... promot[ing] the institution in its narrowest sense...

"...the Fragile Families study offers evidence that income facilitates marriage; an increase of one dollar per hour in men's wages in the study increased the odds they'd marry by 5 percent. Men who earned $25,000 or more in the past year had more than double the rates of marriage of those who didn't...[hence, based on research, the best way to encourage marriage would be to raise the minimum wage]

"Nevertheless, the Administration is eagerly pushing ahead, willing to recruit any bit of research to its cause, no matter how flimsy or biased" (Sharon Lerner. "Marriage on the Mind." The Nation, July 5, 2004: 40-41).


"...almost all abusive marriages are hierarchical.

"The religious right pushes a retro father knows best paradigm. Traditional gender roles are not only being promoted by Bush judicial nominees like J. Leon Holmes and William Pryor but also through family and marriageg services like financial counseling (Crown Financial Ministries); marriage and child-rearing education (Focus on the Family and Family Life); and premarital counseling required by states providing the Covenant Marriage option.

"Clearer heads are having their say, though. With organizations like Christians for Biblical Equality and the Willow Creek Association, evangelicals are challenging the right's views on gender roles, saying that just as Christians erred in their interpretations of slavery and segregation, they are erring in their interpretations of marriage" (Letters. The Nation, July 11, 2005: 2).


Colby Glass, MLIS