The sanctity of marriage

This just in: plans are in the works for yet another reality series to stink up American television waves, this one called I Married a Stranger.

The premise of the show is that a woman frustrated by the dating scene agrees to wed a man she’s never met. While she prepares for her blind wedding, friends and family select a spouse from a pool of six eligible suitors offered by the show’s producers. The men are eliminated one by one until only two candidates remain. Both finalists walk down the aisle, but only one makes it to the altar to reveal himself to his new wife.

“She never meets him until the actual moment when they say ‘I do,'” a source close to the project said. “It’s like the big scene that comes after an entire season of ‘The Bachelor,’ only this is in every episode.”

It shouldn’t be at all surprising that the show is produced by FOX, which brought you such other great moments in humanity as Temptation Island, Joe Millionaire, Paradise Hotel, My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance, Married by America, Love Cruise and, of course, Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire, in which we discovered that the millionaire in question was not only not a millionaire, but also had a restraining order out against him from a former girlfriend.  It’s not surprising, but it is infuriating in its blatant hypocrisy, being that FOX is affiliated with Fox News, home of conservative blowhards and minions of Satan Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity.  While one Fox network offers appalling filth that mocks marriage and relationships, the other network offers appalling filth of a different kind, that which declares that same sex marriage poses a grave danger to the sacredness of traditional heterosexual marriage.

Do you see the irony here? Let me clarify this: FOX runs shows like Joe Millionaire, in which a group of conniving women competed to marry a total douchebag simply because they were led to believe that he was rich (surprise, he was an out of work actor!), while Fox News supports organizations like NOM.  You remember NOM, of course, they ran the ‘Coming Storm’ ads, in which they claimed to be “frightened” of what effect same sex marriage would have on their personal freedom.  They also talk a lot about how gays being allowed to marry would destroy the “sanctity of marriage.”

Dictionary.com defines “sanctity” as “holiness, saintliness, or godliness.”  Applying that word to “marriage” seems to suggest that heterosexuals place a great deal of value on our wedding vows, taking the idea of being married very seriously and treating it with the maturity and respect it deserves.  Let’s review some examples of how us straight folks are acknowledging the sanctity of marriage.

~~Keeping the divorce rate at a solid 45 to 50% over the past forty years.  The more times you get married, the less likely each subsequent marriage will last.  More than half of married men and nearly half of married women will engage in some sort of infidelity, ranging from unconsummated internet relationships to an emotional affair to actual sexual contact with someone else, at some point during their marriages.  And lo and behold, couples who identify themselves as churchgoing Christians have a much higher divorce rate than agnostic or atheist couples.  Whodathunkit?

~~Marrying someone on a whim while drunk and partying in Vegas, reasoning that it’s just as easy to get out of it later.

~~Giving failed first marriages the cutesy nickname “starter marriages.”

~~Encouraging women who are planning to marry to place more importance on the wedding than what happens afterward.

~~Watching shows like The Bachelor, in which someone’s marriageability is determined by hot tub makeout sessions, and insisting that it’s wildly romantic.

~~Following the exploits of Spencer and Heidi Pratt, a fake couple from a fake reality show who apparently really got married in what’s been one long, drawn out publicity stunt.

~~Pulling for people like Pamela Anderson (married three times), Liza Minnelli (married four times), Tony Curtis (married six times) and Elizabeth Taylor (married eight times) to find true love, because they’re “hopeless romantics” who “just haven’t found the right one yet.”  And then there’s this waste of space here.  Yes, you’re reading correctly, she’s been married twenty-three times, yet there are loving, devoted couples who aren’t allowed to marry at all.

~~For the Catholics in the audience, splitting up with your spouse, then having the marriage annulled by the Church, rendering it non-existent.  This not only allows you to pretend you were never married in the first place, but you can get married in a Catholic Church again.  A member of the Kennedy Family somehow managed to get an annulment for his first marriage, even though it lasted for eleven years and produced children! Awesome!

~~Getting married, then immediately declaring yourself to be in an “open marriage,” where you can enjoy all the benefits of married life (love, companionship, part of your spouse’s income) along with the benefits of singlehood (flirting, feeling attractive to people other than your spouse, sex with no attachments), while smugly declaring that monogamy is unnatural for humans and that you’ve “evolved” past such negative emotions as jealousy and possessiveness.

Now, I’m not saying that people shouldn’t be allowed to divorce, obviously, as that would be absurd.  There are a million different reasons why a marriage may not work out, and nobody should stay in a situation that makes them unhappy.  We also have the freedom to marry someone for whatever reason we want to, whether for love, money or because we like their last name, and that’s fine.  I’m not saying that polyamory, or “open relationships” or whatever you want to call it is wrong either.  If you have the energy and the time management skills required to maintain a full-time relationship with one partner while juggling one or more “secondaries,” good for you, rock on with your bad self.  But let’s not kid ourselves, we straight people are doing a lousy job at this “sanctity of marriage” thing, and we have been for a very long time.  We don’t pay attention to the idea that when we marry someone we make promises to them.  We refuse to acknowledge that it’s supposed to be a life-changing event that you’re not supposed to go into for shits and giggles.  You can’t get a tattoo if you’re visibly intoxicated, yet you can bet you can find someone in a chapel off of Fremont Street who will perform a marriage ceremony for you, just as long as you have the faculties available to sign your name on a piece of paper and take money out of your wallet.  Allowing gays to marry will destroy the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman? We’ve already done a fine job of that ourselves.

I’m likely preaching to the choir here, but it’s time conservatives and same sex marriage opponents got a long, hard look at the state of marriage today.  It seems that gay couples, after such a long, ugly battle to obtain the right to marry, would certainly take it more seriously than the average straight couple.  The majority of those who are currently able to get legally married have been together for many years, and have thus already weathered a great deal of the storms that drive other couples apart.  If anyone can preserve the sanctity of marriage, it would be them.

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7 Responses to “The sanctity of marriage”

  1. Lisa Warner Says:

    I agree! yes! so totally right you are!!

  2. Lisa Warner Says:

    All gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to wed.

  3. Heather Says:

    I’m all for gay marriage, but it’s a little unfair to automatically assume gays will be more respectful of the tradition than straight people. I’m not looking to them to “save” the sanctity of marriage – I simply think they should be allowed to ruin it like the rest of us.

  4. Heather: Oh, I agree, they should be allowed to make the same mistakes and do the same stupid shit we do with marriage as well. I just want people to drop this “sanctity of marriage” horsepucky and admit that they don’t want gays to marry because they’re homophobes who don’t want to see people they perceive as different from them happy.

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  6. Chiming in very, very late here – but I couldn’t resist.

    As a gay woman who has only been with my current partner (in a relationship that exceeds 10 years), I find it strange that people think activists promoting equal rights for gays assume that gay people are somehow more moral than straight folks. What’s at stake is being able to have enough agency in your own life to determine your next of kin — something that anyone entering a so-called “traditional marriage” has automatically. As a gay woman, the state not only doesn’t acknowledge my committed relationship, but it gives me no right to share my spouse’s assets, medical power of attorney and benefits. Yes, we have made sustainable legal contracts protecting ourselves as a couple, but these contracts can and are overturned by courts.

    And at the risk of being the cliche of the humorless lesbian, I somehow find the joke that gay people should be able to be as miserable as married straight people belittling to me, my family and the institution of marriage.

    I’ve been with my girlfriend for 14 years. Sure, we’ve had some rough patches, but I cherish my relationship with my partner and hardly consider myself miserable. And I don’t think marriage would change that.

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