Threats to Marriage

Well, now that the California Supreme Court has ruled that gay marriage is a right under that state’s constitution, I’m sure there will be all kinds of outraged grumbling and harebrained plots going around — since, after all, it’s such a terrible thing that couples love each other and want to commit to a life together.  It’s just too, too offensive.  I mean, just imagine.

My personal favorite anti-gay marriage tirade came from Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator (a Republican, of course), who contended that gay marriage threatened his own, “normal” marriage.  Help me.  I just never quite got that one.  Do I lack subtlety or something?

After three-and-a-half decades of marriage, I thought I was pretty much an expert on threats to a union.  Try daily wear-and-tear, dirty socks on the floor, the Three Stooges, money, rearing kids, politics, snoring, hearing the same stories over and over, in-laws, you name it.  All you have to do is set yourself up to believe another person is going to magically complete you, read your mind and satisfy every longing day in, day out, for decades, and bitter disappointment is in the cards.  Until you manage to grow up and get realistic (or at least develop amnesia, which can also be quite helpful).

But gay marriage as a threat to marriage in general?  You’ve got to be kidding.  All this reminds me of is the wonderful H.L. Mencken definition of puritanism: the paralyzing fear that somewhere somebody is having a good time.

Poor Rick Santorum, his marriage in tatters because of some happy gay newlyweds in California and Massachusetts.  They never prepare you for this when you’re saying your vows — the scary possibility that people different from you just might want to be happy and legal, too.  It’s a wonder anybody stays married, given all that stress.

(Copyright 2008 by Ruth Pennebaker)

5 comments… add one
  • Fabulous, Ruth.

    I side with the pundits who point out that, considering our divorce rate, heterosexuals are the real threat to marriage.

  • ruthpennebaker Link

    Always fascinating to me that extremely religious states like Alabama and Oklahoma have the highest divorce rates and more liberal states like Massachusetts have the lowest. Could lead you to think, too, that religion is a threat to marriage. But I’m sure Rick Santorum would disagree.

  • Really terrific words.
    Being in love, and being loved back, is the most magical feeling – how sad to deny it just because of gender (or ethnicity, religion, economic status…)

  • ruthpennebaker Link

    I know. How sad it must be to feel diminished by others’ happiness. I just don’t get it.

  • Thank you VERY much!!!

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