At what point does a couple become simply a couple in marriage?
Now there are certainly problems in many marriages occurring between same-sex couples that occur because of outside hatefulness. But from what I’ve seen, marital problems with same-sex couples follow fairly predictable lines.
- People are different. It’s sometimes hard to agree on things.
- People have failings. No way around that.
- People get sick or tired and partners have to step up. It’s not always graceful.
- People lose jobs and parents and children and life is difficult. And you have to cope.
We need to be thinking about how to keep marriages of all kinds succeeding. One reason I advocate for public weddings is that we involve the community in the success of our marriages. Communities need stable relationships. It’s in their best interest to support them.
On today’s NY Times Op-Ed Page a transsexual, Jennifer Finney Boylan, wrote about her marriage and it’s ability to withstand the problems that arose when she realized she needed to be living as, to become, who she felt she was: a woman. Her wife, she tells us, ultimately found that she loved the essentials of the person more than the physical manifestations of that person. They have gone on building a marriage between them.
And yet, the courts think they have the rights to decide (and differently from state to state) whether they are married, whether they can inherit one another’s property should one spouse die, and whom they might marry should a partner die and the survivor decided to remarry.
Gender politics are always confusing, but rarely more so than in marriage. And adding the trans-gender thing to it, seems to add to the confusion. I loved these two paragraphs from this mornings editorial:
Similar rulings have left couples in similar situations in Florida, Ohio and Texas. A 1999 ruling in San Antonio, in Littleton v. Prange, determined that marriage could be only between people with different chromosomes. The result, of course, was that lesbian couples in that jurisdiction were then allowed to wed as long as one member of the couple had a Y chromosome, which is the case with both transgendered male-to-females and people born with conditions like androgen insensitivity syndrome. This ruling made Texas, paradoxically, one of the first states in which gay marriage was legal.
A lawyer for the transgendered plaintiff in the Littleton case noted the absurdity of the country’s gender laws as they pertain to marriage: “Taking this situation to its logical conclusion, Mrs. Littleton, while in San Antonio, Tex., is a male and has a void marriage; as she travels to Houston, Tex., and enters federal property, she is female and a widow; upon traveling to Kentucky she is female and a widow; but, upon entering Ohio, she is once again male and prohibited from marriage; entering Connecticut, she is again female and may marry; if her travel takes her north to Vermont, she is male and may marry a female; if instead she travels south to New Jersey, she may marry a male.”
Tip: Here’s the truth. Marriage is complicated. We need to spend our time getting people ready for healthy and happy marriage and then finding ways to keep them in those marriages. Our children will do better. Our society and our communities will do better. Let’s here it for making marriages stronger. Let’s stop worrying about who’s in the marriage and start worrying about how they’re making it work.