Being ‘Old School’ About Gay Marriage?

I was listening to Morning Edition on NPR this morning, when I heard an interesting piece on legalized gay marriage in Massachusetts. While gay marriage is now legal in the state, there is a piece of legislation from 1913 that bars any non-Massachusetts resident from being married there if their own state law does not allow the marriage. Thus, no gay couples from out of state can be married in Massachusetts because gay marriage is not legalized in any other state.

Regardless of your views on gay marriage, I found this quotation from a lesbian woman in the piece quite interesting. She and her partner of 38 years have been joined in a civil union in Vermont, but were seeking to be married in Massachusetts.

She says: “We are from the old school, where you find your soul mate . . . and you get married.”

This made me wonder about why marriage is so important to someone and what the important part of marriage really is.

First of all, why is marriage more important than civil union? Is it simply for legal reasons, such as filing for taxes, property rights, or things of that sort? Or is there something more significant about the very idea of marriage that holds our curiosity?

Secondly, what is the core of what marriage all about? I never would have thought to hear a gay couple argue for gay marriage by saying “we are from the old school.” How so are they from ‘the old school’? Old school about the value or intimacy of marriage, apparently, but clearly not about the elements of marriage.

Can marriage be reinterpreted in terms of its intimacy or value while divorcing it from the component elements? That strikes me as quite odd. Is it possible to retain the value of gold while divorcing it from the necessary component parts? Is it still gold? Is it possible to retain the intimate value of drinking coffee if you are using a different sort of beans, say soy beans?

Can you be ‘old school’ about marriage in one way (its value and intimacy) but not in another way (the man and woman joined together part)?

If we were to flip-flop that, I would end up with my critique of contemporary American heterosexual marriage. ‘Old school’ about the man and woman part but not about its value and intimacy.

Thoughts anyone?

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