By Lounes Allache
The issue of legalizing gay marriage in America has long been a raging battle between gay rights activists and Christian fundamentalists. Gay rights activists strive for social equality for gays, while Christian fundamentalists believe in protecting the sanctity of heterosexual marriage. These prominent perspective leave little room for questioning marriages practicality. The belief that marriage is obsolete is based on examining the benefits and downfalls of marriage. Supporters of the narrative argue that legalizing gay marriage would only allow gays to make rash decisions based on false premises.
Analysis of marriage statistics and common marital situations support the idea that marriage is obsolete. Critics of marriage expose false ideas which inspire marriage to support their argument. They discount marriage’s sentimental appeal, vitalized by the media, and dismiss the value of a legal commitment. The ideology that informs this narrative is one of social progression; critics wish to expose the true nature of marriage rather than allow people to make a potentially life changing mistake.
Supporters of this narrative point to marriage statistics as evidence that marriage’s strict guidelines are losing followers as time goes on. Almost half of couples’ first marriages in America end in divorce, and the rate rises for people’s second and third marriages. This rate has risen dramatically, seeing how the divorce rate nearly doubled since 1965. This trend is used to show that marriage is no longer working for many Americans. Accordingly, the monogamous aspect of marriage isn’t followed by the vast majority of married couples because as many as 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women will have sex with somebody other than their spouse during their marriage. This results in an overwhelming 70 percent of marriages between men and women result in an affair. Critics of marriage point out that monogamy is perhaps the most important aspect of marriage, and the public’s failure to fully commit to their spouses is a prime example of how marriage isn’t meant for American society.
Many critics of marriage in America simply use its legal definition to find key disadvantages for married couples. Marriage is a legal agreement between spouses to equally share assets and liabilities. A big problem with sharing liabilities for couples that last till death do them part is that there’s a considerable chance the deceased partner would rack up enormous debt in the time they approached death. Had such couple decided to not marry, they could have distributed their wealth freely among one another and avoided passing on crippling debt to their partner. A prevalent supporter of this narrative, Glenn Campbell, compares the shared finances of a married couple to the “common pot” in a communistic society to argue that they have a common flaw. He states that “communism was a drag on productivity because it eliminated the natural boundaries between people and it detached people from responsibility for their actions” which supposedly is exactly what you’re doing with marriage once you remove all financial barriers. While this may hold some truth, this is a faulty analogy because people are much more connected to their responsibilities in a marriage than in a communistic society. It’s much more obvious in a partnership whether or not you’re aptly providing. It’s also important to consider that people are more inclined to support their partner than their society. This is because contributing to your society is far less advantageous than providing for yourself and your partner. Furthermore, some critics say the “common pot” is flawed because it doesn’t take into account how much the individual earned, and thus the money in the pot can’t be distributed fairly. This corresponds with the capitalistic ideals of many Americans, and shows yet another way in which gay marriage is unbefitting for American society.
The most influential supporters of this narrative tend to be authors, perhaps the most prevalent being Glenn Campbell. He’s very liberal and describes his anti-marriage stance as “arguing for love.” It’s important to note that his support of this narrative, as well as that of many others, has not been given much coverage or media attention. This idea remains on the periphery of American society, which Glenn Campbell claims is because “[big corporations] have fed us this delusion for years, because they know it is easier to sell useless products to trapped married people.” With this delusion, Campbell is referring to the idea that marriage improves or deepens relationships, and his argument is devoid of supporting evidence. While this statement may seem difficult to validate or deny, his idea that big corporations are feeding us this delusion sounds much more reasonable when one looks at the worth and presence of the wedding industry.
The wedding industry in America is estimated to be worth $40 billion. Since the industry is driven by the delusion of marriage, it’s only reasonable that they’d try to keep it alive. This effort can be seen with the many shows about weddings that you see on air. As of 2006, over 6000 of the bridal television shows have aired each year and attracted over 30 percent of brides planning their weddings. This media coverage of weddings is ridiculous in how far it reaches and clearly shows how the industry is effectively feeding this delusion to America.
This narrative doesn’t seem to be building much momentum because of the corporations’ grip on the delusion of marriage. However, if current trends continue then we can expect more people to remain unmarried and divorce, which will shine more light on the true nature of marriage. This means that the media won’t be able to maintain their marketable image of marriage, and the false premises that cloud so many people’s judgement today will finally be dispelled, bringing about a freer America.