the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Another Argument for Gay Marriage

Before the election, I read several moving blog posts explaining why Californians should vote No on Prop 8, which bans gay marriage in the state.

These posts usually showcased a friend or relative who had a same sex partner.  We are shown how this couple went through struggles to have children, and are now happily raising a child.  How could you not admire this couple?  Are they not loving parents?  Aren’t they raising their children with as much care and affection as any straight couple? This is a FAMILY!  Why shouldn’t they have the right to be married and express this special love?

Something bothered me about the tone of these posts.  They were buying into the same Biblical view of marriage as the opponents of gay marriage:  that marriage exists for procreation.  The main argument presented was that “Gays can Be as Good Parents as Straights.”  Not surprisingly, most of these posts were written by parents.

Yesterday, I saw quite a few links to Keith Olbermann’s take on the subject.  In the six minute special commentary, he makes a plea for “love and the spread of happiness.”  The issue is all “about the human heart.”

“The world is barren enough… with so much hate in the world, so much meaningless division… this is what your religion tells you to do?… this is what your heart tells you to do?… You are asked to stand now on a question of love.”

While I was touched by the power of the commentary, something bothered me about this argument as well.  If parents were pushing the Biblical/procreation angle of marriage, Keith Olbermann was using the lingo of the Renaissance courtly lovers, as if he were standing outside the balcony of the fair maiden, whispering words like “heart” and “love.”

Why does marriage need to be about heart and love?  Marriage has had different meanings throughout history.  For most history, it was more of a business arrangement.  It is not my role to decide why people get married.  Straight couples can get married for all sorts of reasons.  There are arranged marriages.  People marry for money.  Out of loneliness.  Out of fear.  For me, the best argument for gay marriage is that — gays should be able to do what straights do, even if it for a dowry.  Even if the marriage is a terrible mistake.

This weekend, I went out for sushi with two friends, who happen to be two guys in a relationship.  Being the only straight man of the group, I was the only one who couldn’t hold my liquor, and I got drunk on two glasses of sake. They invited me to sleep on their couch, which I did.  I wish I could tell you some exciting “gay-oriented” stories about the night, but nothing very unusual occurred, not even any dancing to “It’s Raining Men.”  As stereotypes, my friends are very poor gay characters.  Nothing like the guys on “Will and Grace.”  When I tried to tell them about seeing Stephen Sondheim’s new musical “Road Show” at the Public Theater, and how I am seeing a revival of “Pal Joey” next week at Studio 54, they just looked bored.

“How gay!” they muttered to themselves, laughing at me.

Even when I undressed, I was hoping that one of them would at least mention my new striped boxer briefs, but I didn’t even get any glances.  My friend seemed more interested in me showing him how to use Facebook.

Later that night, my two friends had a little “couple’s fight.”  From what I gather, one of them was supposed to have deposited a check in the bank, but he forgot, and the other accused him of being irresponsible.  It was an argument not dissimilar to hundreds that I have had with Sophia.

Would I recommend this gay couple to get married?  Probably not.  Although they love each other, and probably would make great parents, there are still some unresolved “issues” between the two.

But if they want to get married, go for it.  Why should the law stop them from doing the same crazy things that straight people do?

That’s my argument.


  1. Astrogirl

    My feeling has always been (and I’m starting to see some others in the news media backing this argument) that the government should get out of the business of issuing licenses for “marriage”, even to straights. After all, “marriage” is a religious institution. Instead, let everyone (gay or straight) receive civil unions, and let them then go to their own church for the religious aspect, as appropriate. Or not at all (I didn’t, an I’ve been “married” ten years).

  2. Mrs. G.

    While I agree with Olberman on this issue, I must speak out and say that I think he is a blowhard troll who likes to hear himself talk.

    Prior to the election, we had a torrid and long standing affair, but then he spent months dogging Hilary with sexist comments and I had to cut him loose.

    I think he is just this close to becoming the Bill O of the left.

  3. Twenty Four At Heart

    Living in Calif., I’m just embarrassed that 8 passed. Why does anyone really care what anyone else does? Does it diminish my marriage in anyway for another couple (straight or gay) to marry? Does it hurt me? My family? I know so many straight couples in dysfunctional marriages, or who have divorced multiple times. Relationships are tough regardless of your sexual orientation. My only explanation for 8 passing is that people fear what they don’t understand. I think our society is extremely ignorant regarding homosexuality.

  4. Finn

    Why shouldn’t gays enjoy the same kind of “happiness” the rest of us do? 😉

  5. Nancy

    Isn’t it too bad there aren’t more “important things” (acckkk!!! )to worry about in this world? ::shakes head::

    Some peoples kids are just dumber than others, no?

  6. Jozet at Halushki

    I’m so sorry that the gay men didn’t get all gay on you. It must have been a real let down to not even have your boxers noticed. Nothing makes me more angry than when people don’t live up to their stereotypes. I hate having to step out of the comfort zone of my know-it-all world view.

    By the way, if it makes you feel better, I once did a strip tease during a birthday party for a friend of mine who is a lesbian, and I only made $1.50 and got the phone number for a local salon that did good bikini waxes. Evidently, my counting on my belief that all lesbians were hairy as llamas under their jeans and tie-dyes T-shirts was somehow misplaced.


  7. CharmingBitch

    In reality all marriages as such are civil unions; I have been wed twice with neither occurring in a church or officiated by clergy. Justices of the Peace tied my knot both times and I am just as married as anyone who got hitched in a church or religiously themed ceremony. I am not dismissing or discounting what those rites and rituals mean to those who so chose to engage them mean TO THEM but I have never found use for them and again: equally married with the same rights of survivorship, property, custody, pension, health benefits and social security.

    As ‘marriage’ was and continues to be a legally binding contract and not a construct based historically on religion, I am at a loss as to how religion can be used to impede those who want to willingly enter the vaunted, government not church guided ‘institution’ of wedded bliss.

  8. People in the Sun

    I got from Olbermann a big “What’s it to ya?” You’re right that it doesn’t come from a void. It’s a Libertarian argument mixed with

    I think you’re right that Olbermann’s Love comes from an idea of romantic love that originated in the Renaissance, but all marriages are like that. Most. Most people who get married believe it will last forever and hopefully a little bit after that, and I thought Olbermann’s main point was the idea that everyone should be able to hope that for him or her, it will be forever, and no one will suffer because of that (other than 50% of married gay and lesbians who will have their dreams shattered like straight couples). That’s why he said, “What’s it to ya?”

  9. People in the Sun

    Hmm… I should re-read my comment before I press “Say It!”

  10. Neil

    Halushki — I once got enough nerve to ask my friend, “If I were gay, would you want to date me?” and he said “No.” That sort of pissed me off.

  11. blissfully caffeinated

    Prop 8 bothered me because I felt like it’s government interference at its worst. I don’t want the State of California telling me or anyone else that they can or can not get married. Religion or love has nothing to do with it in my mind. Our constitution should be about protecting personal freedoms, not restricting them.

  12. Kate Coveny Hood

    I’m very sad to hear that there was no “It’s Raining Men” dance party. But it bodes well for them as a married couple. Marriage very rarely involves fun late night dance parties.

  13. Geoff

    I have to agree, that marriage should be a religious observance, outside the realm of government licensing… not that transferring such power to churches would protect gay rights! Legally protected rights are still needed.

    But hey, where are all the anti-gay marriage types? I don’t see many around here, in Neil’s Church of the Open Mind. I fear we are all preaching to the converted.

  14. Neil

    Geoff — I think you are right. I wish there were more anti-gay marriage people here. Not much fun without some debate!

  15. Jozet at Halushki

    If it makes you feel any better, I wouldn’t date you either. So it might not be a gay thing. Have you thought about switching to briefs?

  16. Fancy

    I posted about it today, also, since it officially became legal today in CT. Woo-Hoo! Nothing like the puritanical states showing up the fruits and nuts in California. Of course, we still can’t buy beer on Sunday. But really, if you want to do something about it, visit my post and join the MarriageForward movement.

  17. Danny

    I am sure you have conservative readers who are against gay marriage. I suspect they are staying in the closet on this issue because they’re afraid of the liberals coming down on them. (At least I didn’t say “going down on them.”)

    I think the passage of Prop 8 is a travesty and that it will eventually be overturned but I’m not crazy about the anti-Mormom demonstrations (even though I have no personal love for the Mormon church) or the attempts to blame the passage of Prop 8 on the African-American community.

    But more importantly, I’m SO JEALOUS that you’re getting to see the revival of “Pal Joey” next week. I want to see that so bad, especially since it stars Martha Plimpton and Stockard Channing. Your gay friends who didn’t care about that should have their rainbow flags revoked!

  18. Neil

    Danny — Absolutely. What is wrong with gay men today? We shouldn’t seem more gay than they do!

  19. teahouseblossom

    I’m with you all the way! Everyone in this country should have a fundamental right to mess up their lives with a bad marriage, gay or straight!

  20. NYCWD

    Personally, I don’t think gay people should be able to marry by the state. I also don’t think that straight people should be able to marry by the state. I think the state should endorse all couples in “civil unions” with equal rights and benefits, irregardless of genders, and leave the term “marriage” for the religious fruits and nuts.

  21. Variest Hicks

    As a lesbian american who had recently made the dicision to get married i feel that it should the choice of those parties directly involved in the decision and not of the politicians who are trying to play god. It is not a decision that they will have to live with, therefore, it should not be up to them to say who can and can not spend there lives together legally. Even though my mate and I had cancelled our plans of marriage shortly after they were made. It is important to me that i have the choice for when i am ready. They Are Not God And Need To Stop Acting Like They Are. If we are able to have different faiths, then why are we not able to decide who we love for our selves.

  22. churlita

    I really loved Olbermann’s take on the gay marriage issue. I thought he was quite eloquent. I may not always love him, but I loved what he said in that speech/plea.

  23. V-Grrrl

    Slightly off topic, but on topic in the sense of the government getting involved in marriages.

    In NC, a man cannot have his name put on the birth certificate of his child if he is not married to the mother of the child.

    This, of course, is NC’s way of “promoting” marriage. Others might note that it leaves a helluva lot of children without a legal father or documented identity.


  24. Tootsie Farklepants

    Word. As far as government is concerned, marriage is just a contract between two people that serves as protection of assets and rights.

  25. Taylor

    I am competly with Gay marriage.

  26. Emily R

    My favorite rally sign was: “I deserve the right to get divorced.”

  27. Jess

    Halushki and Neil are cracking me up.

    I know where all the pro-prop 8 people are, they make up 98% of my friends and relatives. “Hi, I’m Jess and I’m ashamed to call myself a Christian.”

    I have to say, being nasty back to them is the worst thing you can do, it justifies their suspicions that everyone is out to get them.

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