As we’re talking about gay marriage and “traditional” marriage, I think it’s important to remind everyone that the real revolution in marriage has already happened. At the turn of the last century, the primary reason for getting married changed from the necessity to fulfill societal expectations to love.
We used to get married in order to improve our family’s standing within the community, either by combining the power of families or by marrying into a powerful family or by trading land and property for a good wife who could gracefully perform the duties of the manager of the household.
Now, could you seriously imagine if, say, Kleinheider announced that he was getting married to me because he wants to inherit my parents’ vast Precious Moments collection?
But that wouldn’t have been so far fetched 150 years ago. He’s an aged bachelor; I’m an old maid. Sure, we fight constantly and agree on very little, but who else would have either of us?–and the porcelain figurines just sweeten the deal.
I mean, hello, folks! Why do you think the marriage vow women took used to be “love, honor, and obey?”* Because she didn’t necessarily love him or even know him, because he was bringing a virtual stranger into his household and the easiest way to integrate a virtual stranger into your household is to have clear rules about who’s in charge of what and what each other’s duties are.
Southerners, why do you think so many slave-owning men were out there in the cabins fucking the slave women? It’s not just that they were available and vulnerable, though that’s a big part of it. There are vulnerable and available women walking up Dickerson or Murfreesboro Pike right now and I’m betting most of my married readers aren’t regularly availing themselves of those women.
Because you love your wives and you know it would crush them if you were running around on them every chance you got.
Are you that different from your great-great-grandfathers? I’d guess not.
So, why weren’t slave owners faithful to their wives? In part, because their marriages weren’t based on love the way ours are. It’s a lot easier to hurt the feelings of your employee than it is your heart’s true home and continue to live with yourself.
My point is that we straight people have revolutionized marriage. We’ve said that the only non-laughable reason to get married is love.
And, once you believe that the reason to get married is love, keeping it confined only to straight people seems ridiculous.
*Aside from the patriarchal bullshit.