Seth Brown: Marriage equality extends to divorce, other unpleasantries
NORTH ADAMS — The Fourth of July was celebrated as usual with its traditional evening of fireworks (or in my neighborhood, the traditional 3.5 weeks of fireworks) and waving American flags.
But if you were on Facebook, the flag you've likely seen most often over the past few weeks had a rainbow. (If you are not on Facebook, you can still share in the Facebook experience by sending a SASE and $4.95 to receive three pictures of my dinner, two mundane comments about daily tasks, and a vague insult directed at unknown parties.)
The reason for the rainbowsplosion was the recent Supreme Court ruling that "same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry." (An ironic word choice, given that fundamentalists are the ones most irritated by the decision.) While I personally have no interest in being gay or being married, I don't object to other people being either or both, so long as I am not required to participate. This is my reaction to most things, ranging from tattoos to karaoke to skydiving. If you want to do it, have fun, and include me out.
I'm sure some people might dispute my comparison of marriage to skydiving, since one of them involves a terrifying leap of faith that could end in disaster, and the other one has an airplane. Not that I'm always pessimistic about marriage. Sometimes it can be a beautiful thing. There's an old children's rhyme about it:
"First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the inevitable breakdown in communications and slow buildup of resentments until even the smallest imperfections in your spouse become things you feel the need to disparage."
This is probably why half of all marriages end in divorce. Which I realize sounds like a depressing statistic, until you realize that the other half of marriages end in death. So when your other option is death, maybe divorce isn't so bad.
Part of what drives public sentiment against divorce may be the biblical injunctions against divorce. People often cite the Bible as an argument against gay marriage as well, although the verse in Leviticus is more specifically concerned with gay sex, listing it as an abomination on the level of eating shrimp.
I have no desire to spend this column discussing whether or not we should all be following the morals laid out in the bible. (Although I will recommend that anyone looking to read Leviticus should consider my rhyming line-by-line translation.) But for those who do wish to oppose gay sex for Biblical reasons, the recent Supreme Court ruling should be very encouraging. If more gay people get married and have kids, they will definitely be having less sex, as any parent can tell you.
So I expect all the rational fundamentalists to start strongly advocating that more gay couples adopt children. Indeed, now that marriage equality has been mandated in all 50 states, the next big issue of freedom will be same-sex divorce. I expect this will be much more difficult than heterosexual divorce, especially because it will take much longer to sort out whose clothes are whose.
And same-sex divorce will be very confusing for people who are against divorce but also against same-sex marriage. This could be a benefit; rather than the usual divisive left-wing/right-wing split on most political issues, we could leave all parties unhappy with symbols like a rainbow confederate flag.
Then again, it might just be painful while others are annoyed that you're ruining something they used to like. In that way, it's a lot like tattoos and karaoke.
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