5. Homosexuals are destroying the institution of marriage

The social ritual of marriage in the United States today is highly unstable, as the 50+ % divorce rate shows. I don't think it's fair to blame that instability on late-comers to the institution of marriage. That's like seeing a tire is getting low on your car, letting a friend drive it, and then blaming him for the tire now being completely flat.

Let's face it: marriage is not being destroyed; it is changing. This is expected and normal, since a society's institutions change as it changes. We have all of human history to show us how common and predictable this constant cultural change is.

Unfortunately we also have all of human history to show us how short-sighted and panicky some people can be when faced with unwanted change.

You cannot stop cultural change, though, not even if you threaten violence in order to get your way. That being the case, why can't we let kindness and tolerance rule our reactions, instead of fear or hate?

The popular notion of love and marriage is that they are synonymous. … Like most popular notions this also rests not on actual facts, but on superstition.

Emma Goldman, 1911

6. What's next? Bestiality/ polyamory/ incest/ whatever?

In the United States we have a social standard called "consenting adults." Basically, if two or more people are legal adults and make an agreement with each other which harms no one else, it is no one else's business what they do. That pretty much covers all the "what's next?" suggestions — animals cannot give consent, nor can children.

To be quite frank, polyamory and/or extended families would be a return to more common human forms of family, and especially valuable if the standard of consenting adults were applied. Personally, I'd love to have more than one adult available to hand children off to, or to help out with paying the bills.

Since extended blood-related families are no longer the norm, why not let polyamory, or nonsexual extended friendship-families, fill the bill? More money, time, and care for children can only help them in the long run — and also help the adults trying to raise them, especially in a society which devalues homemakers.

I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine marriage and a career.

anonymous

7. Same-sex marriage brings no benefit to society. Not allowing same-sex marriage does.

First, if we're only allowing our culture to contain things which benefit the society and ourselves, there's a long list of things we should throw out immediately for harming us, long before we worry about same-sex marriage.

Rampant corporate greed, zealotry trumping reason or facts, mindless media consumerism, and governmental indifference to their people are all good places to start.

Second, cultural change comes about when the needs of the people are not met through current societal conventions. That automatically makes cultural change a benefit to society — it answers the real-life needs of the people.

The current version of marriage does not answer people's social needs for family, as the appalling divorce rate shows. Therefore marriage must change with the times or lose relevance as a social convention, and eventually be forgotten.

We can see this happening in the Scandinavian countries already [text-only version]. I'm not sure why some people consider this a bad thing, as long as the needs of the people are being met.

Third, abuse of selected minorities is not healthy for either the minority or the people involved in the abusing. As the old saying goes, slavery is bad for the master as well as for the slave.

To refuse societal recognition to certain minorities simply because we don't like them, and they can't stop us, is extraordinarily unhealthy for us all — and horribly un-American.

Alternatively, choosing to treat all people with kindness and respect helps us all become better, healthier individuals, and benefits society as a whole.

Marriage is important when you're afraid, insecure, or need something. It's possible to be married just by being together.

Tina Turner, 60 year old singer who has cohabited with her partner Erwin Bach, a record company executive, for the last 14 years

Closing comments

Reactionary desires to return to some mythical "Golden Age," when "things were simpler," should be recognized for what they are.

For some it's wanting to have their "right" to power, to being "society's privileged," remain unquestioned. For others, it's a longing for a lost fable of childhood "innocence," of constant maternal love and care, with no responsibilities or difficult decisions to make.

If that's how you truly feel, that's fine — there are professionals who can help you in coping with this, or who will take care of you. But realizethis is what you want; don't hide from it. Don't think fear gives you the right to decide how others should live, or that everyone feels like you do.

As I noted above, change is inevitable, but how we react to it is not. We've tried fear, intolerance, and hatred, and it was unpleasant, messy, and useless in stemming the unceasing tide of cultural change. That being the case, why don't we try kindness and tolerance this time?

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