A Plurality of "Marriage"s

May 14, 2009

The op-ed, Is My Marriage Gay? in the New York Times (5/11/09), describes the unusual state of affairs surrounding marriages where one partner has legally changed gender after the marriage was recognized by the state. The country is patchworked with statutes and laws that make such a marriage anywhere from fully recognized to partially tolerated to anathema. And this makes no sense to me, except in recognizing that people are afraid of what they do not know. Well, go hug a transgendered person today (in person or virtually if that's what it takes). Get to know her or him.

Elements in the U.S. have been eager to make sure that only the right kinds of people can marry each other. This determination is based on "tradition" and religious belief. These should have limited or no role in governance. If "tradition" were allowed to define governance, we would still have blue laws that kept everything closed on Sundays; women would not be allowed into the voting booth; and African Americans would still be kicked to the curb in the North and enslaved in the South. Tradition is important: stare decisis when there is no reason otherwise. But when it comes to expanding freedoms and looking out for the well-being of all its citizens, governments should be willing to stand up against the oppression of a few and put tradition aside. To quote the Prof. Boylan's op-ed:

"Whether a marriage like mine is a same-sex marriage or some other kind is hardly the point. What matters is that my spouse and I love each other, and that our legal union has been a good thing — for us, for our children and for our community."