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13 April 2009, 12:00 pm 4 Comments

Ben's Notebook: Marriage?

This post was submitted by Ben Carver

ringLast week was a big deal for gay equality. Iowa and Vermont made gay marriage legal and DC decided to honor gay marriages from the states where they are currently legal. I’m pleased about this, but reaction did elude me for a couple of days until I heard young Evan Jeter testify before the Vermont legislature on behalf of his two moms. I was in my kitchen preparing food for my boyfriend when I heard him speak passionately in front of a room full of adults, many of which disagreed with him:

Evan Jeter Speaks the the Vermont Legislature(Click to Listen)

I’ve marched in protests for gay marriage, engaged the opposition in debate, and even helped start a failed non-profit focused on achieving marriage equality. I did all these things because of civic duty, but in my heart I didn’t give a shit. Marriage has always seemed like a gift meant for someone else, a party I would rather not attend. It’s a feeling I can’t quit. Yet, when I heard Evan Jeter speak, I was moved. Since then I’ve thought about the future arc of my life, the sacrifices and pleasures of commitment, a boyfriend that sticks around, and a perfect little boy who held the hands of his two dads while walking through Thomas Circle on my way home from work. These thoughts fill me with questions I can’t answer.

If this world truly accepts me, will I accept it back? Will I grow old with my partner through decades of shared living? Can I transcend the sexual hunting patterns carved into my experience as a birthright of culture? Will I ever hold the face of a son in my hands and see myself in his eyes? Even thinking about the word makes me laugh. Married. I feel crazy contemplating it, but the world outside my door is a crazy place. Last night a moving car flipped and wrapped a parked car around a tree 70 feet away from my front door. I walked outside to look at the damage, no more than a few feet away from the driver who was thrown from the moving car into the street. From the tones and expressions of the cops on the scene, I’m guessing that guy is dead now. Looking at the underside of the once moving car turned 180 degrees on its side, I thought about how life is hard, full of pain, and over too quickly.

There is the feeling out there that America might be ready to accept us as more than an entertaining novelty, to draw us into the tribe as full members instead of quaint contracted workers of its collective industry. There is also the feeling that many homosexuals want this: to trade traditions and benefits of one culture for another, or attempt to mix them, anyway. I don’t know where I fit or where my friends will fit in this new world order, but in spite of an unwillingness to compromise our liberation from prevailing norms, I can’t argue with anyone taking comfort where they can get it. I can’t see it from here, but maybe one day I’ll take it too. Crazy as it seems.


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  • ejacksonindc said:

    I hate to break this to you man, but if you are asking yourself these questions, you’ve been bitten. Plus, you need to have kids so there will be generations of little Ben’s giving people crap in the name of freedom, liberty, and having a low threshold for BS.

  • Ben64 said:

    Ben, I share your ambivalence on this issue. I have also realized that marriage, if legal, is not compulsory; it does not enjoin our participation.

    Years ago my initial reaction to this issue was that marriage should be abolished altogether and replaced with domestic partnerships for all, regardless of sexual orientation. As if that could happen. Ultimately my knowledge of ancient and medieval marriage practice made it easier to assimilate the idea (anything by John Boswell is worth reading).

    If you haven’t read this already you might like Lesbian and Gay Marriage through History and Culture by Paul Halsall…


  • Kyle said:

    In principle I am all for gay marriage. Nothing brings the point home for me more than the thought of a man in a hospital unable to be with his lover, while his fundamentalist family makes medical decisions for him – hell, they could even make psychiatric decisions (e.g., reparative therapy) for him if he is deemed sufficiently incapacitated.

    In my heart, however, my enthusiasm is admittedly less, as my own prospects for marriage seem thinner than the thought of a dream about wisp of smoke. This really is an issue whose support calls for some altruism from many people in our community.

  • ry said:

    I’m not all that into the fact that gays can marry. Sure I guess it’s OK for those people who feel the need. But the reality is 91% of gays share that they themselves don’t feel the need to do the ceremony and certificate thing. It’s just not them and it’s more than just the gays with this mindset. ALL my str8 friends now share with me in the idea that living together is fine, it’s the marriage piece that typically ruins the fun for everyone. I like the line from str8 people that goes: “Why not let gay people marry? They deserve to be as miserable as we are.” How true. Sex in general is pure recreation these days. Something Americans look at now and have an expectation to have the right to freely have sex for fun. If you want to be celibate get yourself a monogamous relationship/marriage. If you want to have sex then live the way the gay community tells you! Otherwise don’t complain about the choice you made to stay stuck.