Mar 1, 2004
On February 12, Del Martin, 83, and Phyllis Lyon, 79, became the first same-sex couple to be married in San Francisco. The two had been together for 51 years.
What reasonable person would be opposed to these two people, clearly devoted, pledging a personal commitment to each other? What kind of threat could these women possibly pose? What reason could there be to be against this union?
Is it unnatural? Why? Because the Bible says so? What kind of authority is that? If ever there was a book that contradicted itself at every turn, the Bible is it! You can find quotes throughout it to support and oppose just about anything.
Some may say that the example of these two women, a gay couple who have stayed together for 51 years, would be the exception. Perhaps. Just as with heterosexual marriage: where the divorce rate is over 50%, couples who stay devoted to each other for over 50 years is the exception. Would abusive or sick relationships take place? Almost certainly, just as in heterosexual marriages, where spousal abuse, child abuse, or even murder are all too commonplace. Given enough time, gay marriages within this society are bound to reflect the same trends. In fact, though, it may be less, since most abuse in this society involves men attacking women.
Why should anyone want to interfere with what someone else wants to do, when absolutely no one is being harmed?
On the other hand, seeking the approval of a religious institution or the government for a relationship should be unnecessary. What right should these institutions have, when they have carried out so many immoral acts throughout history, to put the stamp of "morality" on some relationships and leave it off of others? Clearly such a stamp of approval is not necessary for two people to love and be devoted to each other. Just look at Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon! Why even bother?
In fact, there are many reasons why some feel they need at least a legal recognition for their commitment to each other; and those reasons all have to do with the legal rights given to married couples. In a society where health care coverage, for example, depends on the job you hold; and when you must be married to someone in order to cover them under your health insurance, there is a strong incentive to declare legally such a personal commitment. When some people are not allowed to do so, it means that they have no means to gain health care coverage.
There are many benefits that depend on marriage status in this society: health coverage; some life insurance coverage; the right to make decisions about a loved one's health care when they are incapacitated; or funeral arrangements, child custody and property ownership after a loved one's death. In a rational society, none of this would matter, because EVERYONE would automatically receive coverage and protection just by being here. But in THIS society, what kind of legal status you can get makes a big difference. Families have been torn apart and homes have been lost because relationships weren't legally sanctioned. This is as true of many relationships between a man and a woman as between two women or two men.
When so many benefits depend on marriage status, it is absolutely criminal to withhold them simply because a relationship does not conform to someone else's definition of what is acceptable.