Write to Marry

This post is part of the Write to Marry blog carnival, organized by Dana at Mombian and Mike at PageOneQ.

I’ve been listening to the podcast of the Writer’s Almanac on my way to and from work and today I heard that last Thursday was the 7th anniversary of the iPod.  It made me gape, because they’ve become such a ubiquitous part of our lives that it seems unimaginable that they didn’t exist that recently.

Five years ago, the idea that same-sex marriages would be be legally recognized in the United States would have seemed unimaginable to me, such a far off possibility that it didn’t seem like a fight that was worth taking on.  And then Massachusetts opened the doors, and San Francisco followed and I couldn’t stop looking at the pictures of all the happy couples.  And the world shifted.

There’s been some bumps in the road since then.  Four years ago, I was worrying about the referenda against same sex marriage and their impacts on the presidential election, and trying to remember that February warmth.  Two years ago, I was knocking on doors trying (unsuccessfully) to stop a hateful amendment to Virginia’s constitution.  This blog carnival is focused on stopping California’s Proposition 8 which would take away same-sex couples right to marry.

But I truly think the world has changed.  People have seen the couples lining up to marry in California and Massachusetts.  And they’ve seen that the sky hasn’t fallen down.

I’ve posted this poem before, but it seems appropriate again:

Why marry at all?

By Marge Piercy, from My Mother’s Body

Why mar what has grown up between the cracks
and flourished like a weed
that discovers itself to bear rugged
spikes of magneta blossoms in August,
ironweed sturdy and bold,
a perennial that endures winters to persist?

Why register with the state?
Why enlist in the legions of the respectable?
Why risk the whole apparatus of roles
and rules, of laws and liabilities?
Why license our bed at the foot
like our Datsun truck: will the mileage improve?

Why encumber our love with patriarchal
word stones, with the old armor
of husband and the corset stays
and the chains of wife? Marriage
meant buying a breeding womb
and sole claim to enforced sexual service.

Marriage has built boxes in which women
have burst their hearts sooner
than those walls; boxes of private
slow murder and the fading of the bloom
in the blood; boxes in which secret
bruises appear like toadstools in the morning.

But we cannot invent a language
of new grunts. We start where we find
ourselves, at this time and place.

Which is always the crossing of roads
that began beyond the earth’s curve
but whose destination we can now alter.

This is a public saying to all our friends
that we want to stay together. We want
to share our lives. We mean to pledge
ourselves through times of broken stone
and seasons of rose and ripe plum;
we have found out, we know, we want to continue.

3 Responses to “Write to Marry”

  1. amy Says:

    (sigh) I understand the want. Still, I think they’ll find it thorny.
    I married because we meant to have children and I thought it would be simpler, legally, if we were married. Well, yes, it was; also more destructive. For so many reasons.
    I was surprised by the difference in how others treated me; it was like there was an MRS. hanging over my head. They meant respect, but I felt myself sealed away from them. Out with other couples, there was that all-the-animals-two-by-two dance that’s the stuff of Updike novels. In that sense it’s a relief to be single again. People treat me as myself; I talk to whomever I please as long as I please without a sense of impropriety.
    And then there was all that accretion of housewifery. I’d lived seven years with a guy who was a terrific, stand-up roommate. He took care of his room, his cooking, his laundry, his shopping, his family, his work problems, his dishes, his friends, his money. I broke up with him, and a couple of years later I married — and found myself with all the usual wifely jobs. I didn’t realize how strongly that had affected me until my dad came to visit after my divorce, and bought some running clothes while here. He ran in them, and then, when he left, he handed me a bag, and said, “Here, take care of these.” Inside, you guessed it: Sweaty running clothes. I threw them away. I’m goddamned if I’ll wash an able man’s clothing again.
    I hadn’t understood, either, how intrusive the law is, or how fast the other person can torpedo you financially. Even in a non-community-property state like Iowa, which figures spending-spree debt belongs to whoever charged the merchandise, someone else’s addiction can put you under in no time. Even if all is well, the state decides that after you’ve been married a while, whatever you brought into the marriage now belongs, more or less, to both of you. Came as a real shock to me.
    As for spousal rights, well, they aren’t what they used to be. HIPAA erased a lot of the automatic medical rights. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Social Security benefits whittled away in the next five years or so. The property and power-of-attorney rights you can do with a lawyer.
    I can’t imagine marrying again. I know there are others who have wonderful married lives, and I don’t mean any disrespect to their marrages. Still, even when I imagine a wonderful marriage to a terrific fella, I just don’t want the obligations — the social obligations, the legal obligations, the wifely obligations. Better that Mr. Wonderful should buy a house nearby, and take care of it himself.
    Well, I wish California’s gays & lesbians well with this, and that they get whatever they want.
    I haven’t helped out on the Iowa effort, btw. I got a pretty mailing, then emailed the head of the organization and said, “Nu? So where have you guys been on women’s issues? I don’t remember lots of gay guys helping us out at the women’s center.” And she apologetically said that they didn’t have time or energy to focus on more than one issue. “OK, then me either,” I said.

  2. dave.s. Says:

    I’m a happy married guy, and I have a lesbian sister who I think should have the same sort of support from the state as I have. Still, I think the through-the-courts strategy puts us on the same road as Roe v Wade: continual ruction for years and years, irredentists thinking it’s wholly illegitimate. We’d be better off following the Vermont road of legislative enactment.

  3. dave.s. Says:

    Here’s a guy who thinks as I do about enactment-through-lawsuit, but who is voting to keep it legal in Calif: http://patterico.com/2008/11/01/no-on-proposition-8-allow-gay-marriage-in-california/

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