Posts Tagged ‘Marriage’

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Romance is Dead: Price of Love Set at Two-Months Salary

10.27.10

I’ve been to a number of weddings.  All have been wonderful celebrations of love and friendship — good times had by all, absolutely.

That said, and no disrespect to any one, but I’ve never been quite sure that it was for me.  Not the commitment part — the whole ceremony part.  The whole blind tradition of it.

It all starts with the engagement.  You get on one knee.  Why? Because you just do! And you pull out a little box and pull it open to reveal a – gasp! – diamond ring.  Why? Because you just do! (Forget about the Africans and the DeBeers cartel: we want something shiny because that means we’re in love!) And then you have a wedding and you have a Best Man and Groomsmen and she has a Maid of Honor and Bridesmaids — why?

You get the idea.

Now, I know: this is the Judeo-Christian ideal and it’s what I’ve grown up as being the norm.  I’m not even talking about the religious aspect since it’s become way more universal than that; it’s just a cultural standard.  You see this exact script in countless romantic comedies, many times without a hint of religion thrown in.  By the time we’re five years old, I’m sure we already know the formula:

DIAMOND RING = ENDLESS LOVE

To make sure you all don’t hate me: If all of those previous steps toward marriage made you ridiculously, honestly happy, I’m stoked for you, zero snark in my voice fingers.  Honest.  No judgment at all. They just never struck me as being the symbols of love and happiness or the ways to get to the ultimate showing of commitment.  And I hate the society pressure that comes with what’s expected of you as the way to show that you truly love someone.

The kind of pressure that isn’t always overt.  It’s just always right in front of us through those fairy tale rom-coms, sure, but also just in our daily life.  Like, going to Yahoo.com for instance.

Chris Chase:

A quarter-million dollars is a whole lot of money to spend on a ring, but considering how much money [Los Angeles Lakers star Sasha] Vujacic makes a year, he may have gotten off easy. As my mom constantly reminds me, a man is supposed to spend two months salary on a ring.

Thanks for the solid advice, Mom!  Wow.  Seriously, how fucking grotesque that this symbol of love – that’s all it’s supposed to be, a symbol – is expected to be directly proportional to the amount of money you have in your wallet rather than love in your heart. Two months worth of your annual salary.  That’s what it boils down to.  I guess since you can’t quantify love scientifically, the next best way is monetarily.

Since Vujacic is scheduled to make $5.5 million this year with the Lakers, that would equate to buying a ring worth $912,000. Of course, that two-month rule probably doesn’t apply to celebrities, or else Bill Gates would have had to have given his wife a diamond the size of the Rock of Gibraltar.

Instead of taking this example to point out the absurdity in his mom’s advice that shows maybe there should be a different way to gauge just how serious a man is about his proposal than the number of carets in the rock, Chase makes a joke about how the rich can’t afford it, which then assumes that the rest of us can and should abide by this bullshit parameter.

I know that love and marriage are simply what you want them to be and what you bring to the table together.  It’s personal.  It’s between you and your soon-to-be spouse.  At least, that’s how it should be.  What pisses me off is that our society still has way too much interest in focusing on the most worthless, soulless, vapid part of it all: money.

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Do You Like Capitalism? Then, You Should Love Gay Marriage.

08.24.10

Marriage is big business.

Sure, it’s about love and being together forever and all that jazz, too.  But, let’s be real: it’s a serious moneymaker.

I just went to a wedding of one of my best buddies out in Rochester, NY this past weekend and it was on the second leg of my cross-country flight that it really dawned on me just how much money I was spending on his wedding.

First, there’s the flight from LAX to ROC.  It’s the summer and while Rochester is no resort town, it’s still on the other side of the continent.  I brought my girlfriend along, so multiply that by two.

Then, there’s the hotel. We went cheap and stayed at a Microtel.  But, since I was in the wedding, I arrived a couple days early to make sure I was there for all the festivities and the rehearsal dinner and everything else.  So tack on a couple extra nights.

And there’s also the rental car, the gas for the rental car, eating out for several meals, bar tabs. You can see how it adds up.  And that’s just for one guest and a plus-one.

I can’t even begin to compute how much the actual wedding cost — renting out the event center for the reception, the dress, the suit, the transportation, the hotels, the flowers, the two huge meals, the entertainment, the booze.  And this wasn’t even an overly extravagant affair; it wasn’t tiny, but it wasn’t huge.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not complaining at all. I gladly would spend it all over again in an instant to be there with one of my best friends on his wedding day.  It’s a unique, joyous occasion to celebrate love and the expansion of friends and family.  It’s moving.  It’s hilarious.  It’s inappropriate.  It’s something you don’t forget.  You make all sorts of new memories while revisiting all of the old.

But, still.  It costs everyone involved a small fortune.  Receiving that welcomed honor of being in a wedding comes with its price tag.  And while you can’t put a dollar amount on being able to sing and dance and laugh with friends that you only get to see maybe once a year if you’re lucky, you kind of can.  The flight. The hotel.  The car.  The gas.

It all adds up.

And then it made me think about all of the different industries that I, along with my fellow weddingers, were helping sustain for this four-day excursion into upstate New York in August.  The flight attendants, the fast-food-joint workers, the caterers, the chefs, the gas station clerks, the airlines, the DJs, the waiters and waitresses, the photographers, the flower arrangers, the chauffeurs, the hotel staffs.  I’m sure I’m missing plenty more, but you get the idea.

Given the state of our economy, local businesses and big businesses alike could use the help.  And even though times might be tight for everyone, it’s a lot easier to swallow some big expenditures when its in the name of something as happy and joyous as a wedding.

Let’s forget the obvious reasons to support marriage equality on an emotional level for the moment.  Instead, think of it from the capitalist mentality. This is, after all, America, so might as well speak to the language of the land: the dollar.

If marriage is already reduced to being a thousand federal benefits anyway, what harm could it to do just talk about it like it is?  A cash cow for multiple industries.  What could be more American than that?

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What Do Canada and Mexico Have that the United States Doesn’t? Equality

08.13.10

For being the self-proclaimed “land of the free,” the United States sure has gone out of its way to deny freedoms to a minority group of Americans with so many states pushing legislation to ban same sex marriages.

I understand that a lot of that comes from traditional values associated with religious beliefs; but, being founded on religious freedom and purposefully not having any state-endorsed faith, it seems that of the countries legalizing gay marriage, the U.S. would be one of those few.

Quite the contrary.  And much of the reason that we’re not comes from those religious beliefs being favored over civil freedoms — see the Mormon Church spending millions to help pass Prop 8.

The reality is that religious belief and civil marriage equality can co-exist.  One doesn’t negate the other.  Case in point:

Our neighbor to the south: Mexico legalized gay marriage.

Mexico? Really?  A country whose population is over three quarters Roman Catholic — a faith whose leader has assailed against gay marriage as even being a threat to creation.  A country that has more Catholics than any other country in the world, except for Brazil?  That’s fascinating.

So how did this happen?  Opponents can’t argue that it was purely judicial activism — it was legalized in Mexico City by the legislature.  Only this week did the Supreme Court uphold the law and also required all states to recognize the marriages that are only currently performed in the capital city. And the vote wasn’t even close, either : 9 – 2, in favor.

So, what’s our excuse?

Sure we’re not so liberal as Canada, who also has legalized marriage equality.  But we’re also not so homogeneous in our beliefs as Mexico, either.  (Although if all you do is listen to the current vitriol from the conservative groups, one might forget that America has no official religion.)  Why have we instead gone the completely opposite direction in creating laws that ban same sex marriage?

If Mexico, with it’s overwhelming number of Roman Catholics can elect a legislature that rules in favor of equality, then why in the world can’t we?

Photo courtesy of Sydney Lea Steele

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Supporting Gay Marriage: It’s Not About the Children. Seriously.

08.05.10

Equal Rights is an American ValueCalifornia’s Proposition 8 has just been overturned.

While a huge victory for marriage equality, with many in favor of equality rejoicing in this, the opponents of gay marriage continue their failed arguments that make sense to their personal beliefs but don’t reconcile with the Constitution.

Even after logic, reason, and the law showed that their arguments held no legal water, gay marriage opponents continue with the same tired rationale:

Most people think of marriage as an institution which indicates the strong feelings which two people have for one another. But the state doesn’t have any interest in privileging strong feelings. Rather, the state is interested in the perpetuation of society, which — to again state the obvious — requires procreation.

So what about sterile couples who want to marry?  Should they be banned as well?  Or how about elderly couples who already have kids and don’t plan on (or are too old) to have any more?

But the bigger issue I have for this argument is: since when does the state have any business in my procreative inclinations? Where in the California or U.S. Constitution does it say anything about requiring married couples to have children?  I would like to see some evidence to this strong claim that our government has a vested, legal interest in whether or not its citizens procreate and that this interest is directly tied to the civil institution of marriage.

I believe this blogger at The American Catholic, along with many others who oppose gay marriage rights, is confusing state with church.  When it comes to secular law, (no, we are not a Catholic nation) the Constitution trumps any religious text.

The American Catholic continues:

The ease with which they [gay marriage supporters] threw out bromides (“finally, equality!”) bothered me, primarily because it revealed two things: 1. a group of intelligent people couldn’t grasp that there might be real objections to same sex “marriage”, and 2. as I’ve noted previously, too many (probably most) Americans simply don’t understand the essential nature of marriage.

1. I question just how real those objections are when the person making them lacks the intellectual honesty to avoid snark by putting quotes around the word “marriage” in order to marginalize it and make it seem that its inferior or not even worthy of the word, making it hard to even have an honest discussion on a logical, rational level and not an emotional-only argument.  And when that person raises objections, offers no legal support for said claims (see above re: marriage being a device of the state to insure the procreation of its citizens.)

2. Given that Americans are a group of widely diverse people with all sorts of beliefs, heritages, and customs, to lump them all together as if there’s some universal consensus on something as personal and varied as marriage shows a very closed-minded, narrow, and narcissistic worldview that believes that one’s own views on marriage are the right way and the only way to think.

The reality is that there are religious rules and there are secular laws.  They don’t always match up because we live in a society that allows for the practicing of all faiths.  But our laws are based on equality and fairness.

Change is difficult. Fighting for equal rights that are guaranteed in the Constitution is extremely tough to secure.  But the fight is worthwhile.

Equality will prevail. This is just another step forward.

Photo courtesy of stevebott’s Flickr photostream

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A Simple Case for Humanity

01.30.10

Too often the case against gay marriage toes the religious or revisionist-history lines, people arguing that marriage has always been between one man and one woman since the beginning of time and that homosexuality is a sin.  People reduce gay marriage to terms of grotesque creatures, not loving human beings and breaking nature’s law.  People argue against it with broad strokes, sweeping generalizations, they point to old texts and hide behind their prejudices, their fears, their ignorance.  It’s much easier this way.  All too often the reality of the effects of the gay marriage ban get ignored.

This is the reality, in real terms, happening to real people, dealing with the greatest of human trials: grave illness.

Bryan Dickenson has been with his partner, Bill Sugg, for 30 years.  But their union is not recognized in any shape or form by any government entity because they live in Texas, where even civil unions and domestic partnerships are illegal.  This means that when Sugg had a stroke and has been in the hospital undergoing extensive rehabilitation since, Dickenson was not allowed sick leave to care for his partner by his employer AT&T, who would extend those benefits to a married, heterosexual couple.  Instead, Dickenson has to use his vacation time in order to go care for his companion, his lover, his spouse in the hospital and is worried that once he runs out, if he continues to ask for time off work to be with Sugg, he would be fired.

This is wrong.  Plain and simple.  Not that AT&T is necessarily to blame – the law is the law, and Dickenson and Sugg have no union to speak of as far as the state of Texas or the United States of America are concerned.  Legally, they’re merely roommates, friends at best.

But they aren’t just roommates or friends.  They are family.  If Texas legalized gay marriage, this wouldn’t be an issue.  As it stands, AT&T has no legal reason to allow Dickenson to use his sick leave.  This type of cruelty must stop.

I know that I haven’t written much about the trial against Prop 8 here in California – not having any legal education, I would merely be reposting what others already are saying in a much more informed way – so I am eagerly awaiting the potential ramifications if Prop 8 is indeed found to be unconstitutional and discriminatory.  I hope that it is, and that the case is eventually brought to the Supreme Court, whose ruling would apply to all gay marriage bans across the country, including this one in Texas.

Of course, by that time, it may be too late for Dickenson and Sugg, and the countless more gay couples with stories like theirs.  Banning gay marriage does nothing to help heterosexual marriage; it only seeks to harm homosexuals.  It’s cruel, it’s inhumane, and it’s heartless.

Here’s hoping Bill Suggs has a speedy recovery and that Bryan Dickenson can be there every step of the way.

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D.C. Catholic Church Backs Down

12.18.09

The Washington, D.C. Archdiocese has its bluff called.

When will opponents to same sex marriage finally realize that it affects no one other than those couples who wish to bind their love just like some heterosexuals choose to do?  It doesn’t impede upon religion or cause some slippery slope into depraved pedophilia or other nonsense that some will have you believe.

It’s about love and equality.  That’s all.  Plain and simple.

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D.C. Takes Big Step Forward in Same Sex Marriage Battle

12.15.09

gay marriage

The D.C. Council voted overwhelmingly in favor of a bill that will legalize same sex marriages.  It next will go to Mayor Adrian Fenty who is expected to sign the bill by the end of next week.

This is a big step forward in the marriage equality movement and I applaud the 11 members of the D.C. Council who voted in favor of this bill.  I must say it will be a very odd contradiction having America’s Capital allowing same sex marriages while Washington still outlaws them.

Slowly but surely, state by state, district by district, the rational viewpoint will prevail and equality will trump discrimination.  Way to set a solid example, D.C.

(Photo courtesy of Steve Bott)