Wilde Oats is an online literary magazine. It celebrates gay and bisexual fiction. It embraces the joys and agonies of life for gay and bisexual men, from hard gritty realism to wild flights of romantic fantasy.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Against Gay Marriage?

I’d like to respond Byron Edgington’s “Case Against Gay Marriage” from our last issue. Why have I waited so long? I didn’t read it until nearly two weeks after the issue went live. My job at Wilde Oats mostly has to do with the fiction: acknowledging submissions, reading them, sending out acceptance or rejection notices, and editing a few. I also write an occasional review or a rant. As managing editor, I delegate responsibilities to the other members of the team and nag them to keep on task. The rest of the stuff I don’t see until it’s up. Well, after those two weeks, the holidays were upon us, so I made a mental note to write something about the article for the WO blog. Then I forgot. Now I’ve remembered.

Edgington doesn’t make a case against gay marriage; he makes a case against marriage, period. More accurately, he makes a case against contemporary attitudes toward one’s own marriage and people’s commitment to commitment. He makes it very clear that he feels gay couples should be allowed to do anything heterosexual couples can. The question he poses is: “Why would they want to?”

That married couples enjoy a large number of financial benefits and legal protections is only part of the answer. Laws can be changed to grant the same privileges to civil unions. They haven’t, but they could be. The fact remains that, in the United States at least, heterosexual couples rarely enter into a civil union—they get married or they “shack up”. Gay couples may only choose the latter. Moreover, the very term civil union implies that marriage is a religious bond as opposed to a legal one.

In demanding the right to marry, same-sex couples are not only asking for equal treatment; they are making a statement. They’re letting the bigots know they are not promiscuous bed-hoppers who cruise the bars looking for their “trick du jour”. Legalizing same-sex marriage would constitute an official recognition of their integrity and their worth as human beings. It would mean the acceptance of the validity of their relationship. I know many unmarried gay couples who introduce their partners as “my hubby”.

Edgington suggests that qualifying a marriage as “same-sex” is of itself demeaning. But the qualifier will only stay as long as marriage is limited to one man and one woman. How can one propose a law legalizing marriage? It’s already legal. The initiative I voted against last November laid out a definition of marriage that excluded same-sex couples, but nowhere was the word itself used.  Nowhere where two people of the same gender can marry puts same-sex on the license; no one ever says, “I’d like you to meet my same-sex husband.” And until marriage is a nationwide right, “civil union” will implicitly contain that qualifier.

Now, if it were ever proposed that gays be required to marry, I’d fight against it tooth and nail.


  1. First off, thanks so much for taking time to read my piece. As a strong supporter of marriage equality, it was difficult for me to put it out there, knowing some would read it wrong. The two men in the piece, names changed, are indeed real people, though as I mentioned 'Ken's' partner is deceased. This issue (civil marriage equality) isn't going away, nor should it. I look forward to the day when LGBT folks get married just like anyone else. My tongue in cheek essay does take modern marriage to task, no doubt about it. The biggest threat to 'traditional' marriage is divorce, and we straights are responsible for most of that wreckage. Heck, I'm divorced, a case of paying too little attention to a marriage. I'd be interested to know what other feedback you've received about the piece, if any, and a continuing dialogue about it. As I said, I look forward to the day when marriage equality is a given.
    Speaking of continuing dialogue, my wife and I have created an event readers may be interested in. National Straight Allies for Marriage Equality (S.A.M.E.) Day is May 9th. Check out the website for further details.

  2. Yes to all, plus while it is highly unlikely that all types of marriage will ever be made illegal in a U.S. state, civil unions, not just for gay people, were outlawed in North Carolina last year.

    Civil unions, even when they are cast in bvrnze, are not the same as marriage in terms of legal and financial benefits. For instance, in Washington State before marriage equality, a same sex partner could not have the right to raise the deceased partner's children by a former partner.

    More than anything I am for marriage equality because people in love have the right to choose how they want to symbolize their commitment.

    My other thoughts:

    It is only religion that seeks to limit marriage to one man and one woman. As I told my friend who said "But marriage is a sacrament in my Chirch!" that it was not fair for her church to decide for everyone besides those who go to her church.

    There are some heterosexuals who do civvil unions.. some retired people do it to have the commitment and protections without losing Social Security benefits.

    And finally, the entire Defense of Marriage Act flies in the face of the provision for full faith and credit where every state complies with contracts made in any other. That is probably going to be what finally gets the Supreme Court to strike it down as unconstitutyional.

    I am a legally married gay man, though I came at this in a very different way. I am transgender. I was born with a woman's body and it was that bnody my male partner marrie3d.. but he remains m arried to me as I change my body to match my brain and heart. Once you are married, cjhanging legal gender does not change that.

    Christopher Moss

  3. Christopher: Thanks for sharing that, and you're absolutely right about civil unions. Ohio's constitutional amendment to make marriage one man; one woman also forbids civil unions. Civil marriage equality will become reality, maybe sooner than anyone thinks. This kind of discrimination has a way of crumbling under scrutiny.

  4. I am learning of several bases on which the Defenmse of Marriage Act can go down.

    1. The 14th amendment to the US Constitution which promiess equal protections under the law for all citizens.

    2. The full faith and credit act that requires all states to honor what another state put in place when an individual moves.

    3. Freedom of religion. You can't tell someone that they can't do something because some religion says they can't. Te concept of marriage as a sacrament is in fact a relgious concept.

    4. This one is new on me... that it is unfair and burdenssome to businesses to make them have two sets of procedures for covereage of family members by insurance or other employment benefirs for two different groups of people.