Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Whither Civil Unions This Time?

A civil union bill is once again creeping through the Illinois General Assembly. We're watching it closely, to say the least. Besides the fact that Lori and I would like the opportunity for official validation to give our relationship some legal backbone, I'd also like to add her to my mediocre, overpriced health insurance policy. Oh...and I love her. A lot.

Conservative groups in Illinois say that the civil union bill is just a smokescreen for a law demanding full marriage rights and once we get our hands on marriage equality, all manner of mayhem will break loose. Traditional marriage as we know it will be destroyed. The divorce rate among heteros will skyrocket, families will be led by a single parent, and serial marriage and childbirth out of wedlock will become normalized.

oh...wait. That's what's happening now. WITH the sanctity intact.

Let's face it. Heterosexuals have not been great stewards of the sacred institution of marriage for the last century or so. Why not let us queers give it a try? What's the worst we can do? Get divorced? Gad, what a scandal that would be!

And for all you proponents of the Slippery Slope Theory of legislative permissiveness, I promise not to use this as a gateway to marry:

1. My pets (who smell bad and don't carry their weight with regard to household chores).
2. Children (see above).
3. Multiple women and/or men.
4. Inanimate objects.

Now you in turn, Protectors of America's Morality, have to return the favor. You have to give up:

1. Sex with children (I'm talking to you, Catholic Church)
2. Multiple spouses (Hear me, Mormons?)
3. Sex outside the bonds of your Holy Matrimony (that one is especially for you, Larry Craigs and David Vitters of the world. No more hookers or bathroom trysts, unless they're with your sacred, government-sanctioned wife).

I was talking about my desire to civil union Lori (and really, it would be worth letting us get married to avoid verbs like "civil unioning") with some coworkers yesterday, and one of them asked if we would have a ceremony.

I explained my extreme stage fright, and said probably not, and she said, Oh, you should. Just invite a few friends who accept your lifestyle and have a small ceremony."

Accept our lifestyle?

You mean the one in which we go to work every day, put our kids through college, pay our taxes and fret about our bills? That lifestyle?

Or the one where I have a monogamous lifelong relationship with a person that I love, and would like to know that in the event of my death she could keep our home and live out her years on my life insurance and retirement benefits? Is that the subversive lifestyle we're referring to?

There's an ongoing debate about gay marriage among gay people that it's hetero-normative and it actually gives unfair weight to the outdated construct of marriage as a moral institution as opposed to a legal one. I get that. I'm not trying to force anyone to do anything different with their own lives. I'm not interested in a church-sanctioned religious ceremony performed by a minister choking back his bile with the gun of State Authority in his back. I promise...I'll stay out of your church if you'll stay out of my relationship.

The reality is that hetero-normative marriages are the kinds of marriages we grew up with, and that's the structure many of us feel most comfortable in. I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel here...I just want the same boring old marriage the rest of you get into (and out of) with such ease.

Please, Illinois General Assembly? Pretty please with wedding cake frosting? We promise not to be weird. Well...maybe not too weird.


innkeeper said...

But why take all the fun out of it? I mean, if people can yank the insurance companies' chains by insuring their goldfish, why can't you marry, say, your dining room table? Just kidding.

I agree with everything you said, especially the part where you'll stay out of their church if they stay out of your relationship. Amen.

Keep us posted on the results from the Legislature.

Anonymous said...

Good luck with Illinois. I think the whole issue should just go straight to the Supreme Court --- it seems to me to be clearly unconstitional to prevent two people who want to get married from doing so.

You may already know the political satire of Roy Zimmerman, but if not, here's a link to him singing "Defenders of Marriage." (Or just Google "Roy Zimmerman" --- it may be easier, since I don't think this comment thingy creates a hyperlink.)