We have gay marriage. Now we are also getting gay divorce. The New York Times has published an op-ed piece entitled “I Got Gay Married. I Got Gay Divorced. I Regret Both.” The author, Meredith Maran, tells with poignant honesty how she crusaded for gay marriage, took the plunge, but then went through a long, costly, and painful divorce.
After the jump, theology professor Denny Burk quotes from the article and comments on the problem: wanting the rights of marriage without the norms of marriage (fidelity, permanence).
The same could be said of many heterosexual marriages. But is there anything about gay relationships that makes permanence especially difficult? What role might bearing children play in making marriage permanent? But how would you account for marriages with children that break up anyway? Some people are saying that marriages shouldn’t necessarily be permanent at all, though breakups are still traumatic, even for those who think that way. Do you have any suggestions for lowering the incidence of divorce, including among heterosexual Christians?
From Denny Burk, “I Got Gay Married. I Got Gay Divorced. I Regret Both.” | Denny Burk;
Meredith Maran had an interesting essay in The New York Times over the weekend: “I Got Gay Married. I Got Gay Divorced. I Regret Both.” In it, she describes her “marriage” to her lesbian partner in 2008 and the subsequent dissolution of their relationship in 2013. She regrets her gay marriage and divorce, but it is not because she is against gay marriage in principle. Rather she says this:
In many cities over many years, my wife and I had marched for marriage equality. We’d argued with the haters and we’d argued with the gay people who said that legal marriage would co-opt us, diminish us, turn us into a caricature of “normal” married people. We swore we could enjoy the rights only marriage conferred and still have our gender-fluid commitment ceremonies, our chosen-family configurations, our dexterity at turning friends into lovers and vice versa.
She admits that she and her partner never wanted the norms of marriage, but only the rights of marriage. As a result, she regrets her gay marriage only because it made breaking-up more difficult. Divorces are expensive and messy, and it turns out that both marriage and divorce cramped her gender-fluid “dexterity at turning friends into lovers and vice versa.”
I appreciate Maran’s candor in this article. I do think it is revealing. I suspect that many of those who marched for legal gay marriage in our country weren’t really that concerned about adding traditional marriage norms to gay relationships—norms of permanence, covenant, fidelity, etc. What they wanted was social acceptance of their relationships as they were already configured—many of which were admittedly “monogamish” rather than monogamous. The legal recognition served to remove a stigma, not to convert “dexterity” into permanence.
HT: Chris Queen–read his comments too
Illustration from Pixabay, Creative Commons