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31.8.03

Free to Marry, Canada's Gays Say, 'Do I?'

"I was dreading the conversation," he [gay Canadian David Andrew] said, fearing that his partner would feel jilted when he told him that he did not believe in the institution. "Personally, I saw marriage as a dumbing down of gay relationships. My dread is that soon you will have a complacent bloc of gay and lesbian soccer moms."

... Gay men seem more apprehensive about marriage than lesbians, and generally, couples with children, or thinking of having children, express more interest in marrying.

-- via Matthew Yglesias


It's interesting how the fears of gays about marriage are the opposite of the fears of social conservatives. Conservatives say that adding gay couples to the mix will dilute the traditional customs of marriage. And their fears seem to focus particularly on gay men. They also insist that marriage is about raising children. But gays like Andrew are afraid that marriage will dilute the non-traditional customs of gay couples. And gay men are less likely to get married, whereas gay couples who want or have children are more likely to get married. If people like Andrew are right (and I'm not certain that they are, or that it's such a bad thing if they are), then social conservatives have nothing to worry about -- marriage is secure.

I also find it interesting that 100 of the 590 gay marriage licenses that have been issued went to Americans. This suggests that American gays want marriage more than Canadian gays. If that's true, the greater strength of anti-gay sentiment in the US (due to this country's greater conservatism and religiosity) may be a factor. Gay marriage gains added value as a symbol of triumph over the enemy when the enemy is stronger. And there's an added incentive to prove, by getting married, that homosexual couples are just like heterosexual couples. (This is in addition to the article's point that common law marriage is more popular and more attractive in Canada, so that the choice between marriage and no marriage is not as stark there.)

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