Author’s Note: This was written at a time when same-sex marriage was still illegal in most jurisdictions and it was a real hot-button issue. Just a little context…
I would like to take a moment to discuss what I think is a very serious problem in society today. It is an issue which has not received much attention, but which affects each and every one of us, and I think it’s time that we all took a stand and demanded that it come to an end.
I’m speaking, of course, about straight marriage.
Surely, he jests, you might be thinking. But no, I am dead serious. Marriage amounts to nothing more than legal blackmail. It forces people into a legal obligation to each other which they are perfectly capable of entering voluntarily. It so difficult to leave, though, that millions of Americans choose to live in agony rather than spend the time and money necessary to secure their happiness.
Government and religious leaders have colluded for millenia to perpetuate the belief that marriage is good and being single is evil. The facts do not support the conclusion.
There are countless examples of happy couples who have loving, healthy relationships without getting married. I always used to point to Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, but I guess they’re not really my paradigm anymore. But still, look at how long they were together compared to most Hollywood couples.
If you really want proof that a couple can spend a lifetime together in a healthy, committed relationship, look no further than the gay community. Until recently, same-sex marriage was against the law in every state. Even now, official recognition of same-sex unions is relatively rare.
Despite this fact, millions of gay couples are in strong, healthy relationships. While straight married couples are getting divorced at an alarming rate (the frequency of divorces is nearly half that of marriages), gay couples are, in some ways, becoming the model for healthy relationships.
Many of the historical reasons for getting married have also gone by the wayside. In olden days, women were not legally permitted to own property, so it was necessary for a woman to get married to enjoy the benefits of her husband’s title and property. Thank heavens that is no longer the case!
Legitimacy was another historical reason for marriage. A child born out of wedlock was not permitted to inherit property from his father. This was why being a “bastard” child was so heavily stigmatized. Legitimacy has no bearing on property ownership or distribution in the United States, so that is no longer a valid reason for marriage either.
Religion has always had its hands in its followers’ lives, but even that reason has been minimized in recent years. Religions have been relaxing their stance on nontraditional relationships, some even officially accepting same-sex couples. Even religions can make progress.
But while the non-romantic reasons for getting married have all but disappeared, the burdens of marriage are stronger than ever.
You see, marriage changes things. I hate to stereotype, but most women began fantasizing about their wedding when they were young girls. They’ve built up this gloriously romantic idea in their mind for decades and only think of marriage as a covenant of love between two people.
Unfortunately, there is no fine print or disclaimers when you get married, so most people fail to realize that there are consequences to marriage. For example, marriage puts an artificial limit on how you can own and distribute your personal property. Did you know that, if you try to write your spouse out of your will, the government forcibly grants that spouse a portion of your estate? It’s called a “forced share.”
Married couples also own all of their property jointly. While the specifics vary from state to state, the gist of it is that you forfeit the right to own anything of your own when you get married.
Many people live under the mistaken impression that marriage provides a tax benefit. Speak to tax professionals, though, and except in rare cases, married couples filing jointly pay more tax than they would filing separately. Tax professionals lovingly refer to this phenomenon as the “marriage penalty.”
And what happens if things don’t work out? Do you have any idea how much it costs to get a divorce? If it is amicable and you hire a cheap lawyer, it is not unheard of to spend $5,000, or more, to sever the marital ties! If you’ve got kids and the divorce is contentious? Well, start buying lottery tickets.
It’s no wonder people spend years in failed, destructive marriages, growing more and more bitter and resentful every day. They can’t afford to put an end to their misery! Of course, avoiding problems only makes them worse, so choosing not to get a divorce only causes more bitterness and pain.
The fact of the matter is that marriage is an outdated and outmoded institution which is destructive to the fabric of our society. States such as Michigan, which have constitutionally banned same-sex marriage, should be applauded for their support of the gay community and their sensitivity and concern for the health and stability of same-sex relationships.
Now, it’s time for the rest of us to stand up and demand equal treatment. It’s unfair for the gay community to reap the benefits of a constitutional ban on marriage while the rest of us are forced to accept this destructive institution and to submit to the controlling effects it has on our lives.
I encourage each of you to write your Congressmen and demand a constitutional ban on straight marriage in Michigan. It’s about time we all stood up for what’s right and put an end to this madness.
I think there might even be a facebook group, if you’re interested…