Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Gay Marriage — be careful what you fight for

Believe me, I support the fight for gay individuals to enjoy all the same rights as straight folks.  Yet as this ancient feminist watches the entire gay marriage fight from the sidelines I can’t help but wonder just what the hell, exactly, gays believe they are fighting for.  I fully understand the need and the right to legally recognized civil unions.  What I can’t comprehend is the desire of the gay community to participate in a tradition fermented in subjugation, dehumanization and every evil of the unchallenged patriarchy.  You’d think, above all Americans, gays would be the first in line reject all that stuff.  Go figure.  

Back in the day, before “feminist” was a progressive cuss word, we saw marriage for exactly what it was always intended to be — a dolled up dog and pony show designed to make palatable a simple but critical business transaction — the purchase of a woman with the intent of transforming her into dutiful domesticated chattel and brood mare, aka a “wife”.

And now gay partners want in on the practice, even in the face of virulent defense of sexist bedrock tradition and at the expense of more attainable gay rights.  Oh well.  Maybe gay marriage would once and for all refashion what a marriage really is and all a wedding represents.  Good luck with that, by the way. Feminists are pretty much done beating their heads on that cave wall.  


I came of age at a time when removing “obey” from the bridal vows was still radically non-conformist and sure to raise more than a few eyebrows.  Note we still live in a country where James Dobson and his ilk preach to millions of believers the importance of a woman’s deference to her husband’s “rule” as ordained by God and critical to a successful marriage.  

Up until the past century, a western marriage was nothing more than a transaction between father and groom where ownership of an unwilling woman was transferred for a host of decidedly unromantic reasons — to end a feud, cement an alliance or trade a hungry mouth for a pair of fertile hips.  In most of the rest of the world, it still is.  Over the centuries until not that long ago, women were bought and sold into marriage, transported across oceans and continents to marry strangers to better plow and populate the wilderness, forced into marriage by shame, embarrassment and parental decree, and rejected if they proved intractable or infertile.


My shock has dissolved into decades of pained amusement watching supposedly enlightened free women continue to change their surnames when they marry, or hack up their identities with hyphens and multiple muddled middle names.  I am one of a small handful of my high school pals that married and yet can still be found by my birth name — the rest having evaporated into marital anonymity as Mrs. Somebodyelse.  I never changed my name when I married (and paid for that choice dearly) and my defense (repeated constantly for over two decades) was simple — getting married does not change who I am and it should not disconnect me from who I always was. My marriage seeking gay friends might be surprised to find out how unacceptable and insulting most found that rationale when selfishly applied to something as fundamental and defining as your own name. “What about the children!  How will they know who they are!”  sigh.  Apparently, with daughters, that would be a non-issue.

Speaking of children, it really has always been all about bloodlines, inheritance and children.  Beyond the acquisition of a live-in whore and beast of burden, marriage in its pure and traditional form ensured a man his true blood descendants, with few things worse than being born a “bastard” and cheating with or by a married woman a capital offense.


But you know what I find most disturbing?  Gay marriage ceremonies that innocently co-opt the  traditions built upon the making sacred of rape, conquest and the guarantee of fecundity.  Seriously.  Enlightened progressives.  What ARE you thinking?   So much of the trappings of contemporary marriage ceremonies are holdovers from the good old days of female servitude — the presentation of the veiled virgin; someone, if not Dad, enlisted to (symbolically, of course) “give away” the virgin; groomsmen and a “best man” who were first needed back in the day if a bride was to be taken by force, in the event no one could be convinced to just give her up willingly. Carrying over the threshold? Pelting with fertility symbols? Rituals of mock conquest? Dowries dressed up as bridal showers and rape raids hosed off into “bachelor parties”?  ugh. Please, gay community, choose your “wedding traditions” wisely, if and when the day ever comes.


Then there’s how we even still continue to channel our daughters towards only one path to utter womanly fulfillment — first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes that lucky little lady with a baby carriage.  The contemporary fairy tale of rescue and validation by a man still captivates little and not so little girls into bride doll dreams of spending their parents’ second mortgage in a Bridezilla style spending fest.  And an entire multi-billion dollar industry feeds on that first female angst while picking Mom and Dad’s wallet clean in the bulimic pursuit of perfect bridedom. And yet the divorce rate climbs above 50% — happily ever after my ass.  Yeah, if I was gay in these days of progressive agendaism my first thought would sure be “sign me up right now for some of that.”


Speaking of divorce, I hate to break it to the gay community, but divorce really really sucks.  (Given how common divorce has become in spite of that…just imagine the horrors of the alternative)  Every marrying couple should be advised to set aside ten grand or so for the lawyers because there are few things worse than wanting a divorce and not being able to afford one, or being fleeced by an angry partner who can.  Count on not only dividing your assets (undoubtedly unfairly) but confusing your friends, stressing your relations, fucking with your kids’ heads and wasting hours of brain time wondering why you got married in the first place.  (surely to be compounded after fighting for the “right” to this crap in the first place) Understand, as well, the court system does not recognize any rights to compensation for mistakenly co-mingling your assets with an asshole.  

If I was thirty years younger right now the ranting feminist me would be head afire over the gay community’s inadvertent promotion of marriage, a most barbaric of modern practices, only a half notch above circumcision.  At this age, I’m just confused and amused.  Seriously, is the inability to marry the most tragic aspect of gay existence?  It simply can’t be or else ya’ll are some of the luckiest SOBs on earth.  

I assume I’ve grossly offended all the currently deliriously happily and utterly equally married out there.  Take heart that I must just be a bitter old crone who just doesn’t get it, even if the odds are mounting against your ongoing connubial bliss. Again, I fully understand the fight for civil unions.  Marriage?  Be careful what you fight for.  


  1. psychodrew

    Straight people have completely screwed up marriage.  What you need are us homosexuals to come in and show you how it’s supposed to be done.

  2. spacemanspiff


    Is that snark? Serious question.

    That article is offensive on so many levels.

    I really enjoyed reading this GRO.

    Highly rec’d.

  3. Hollede

    It has changed the most over the past 100 years. And it will continue to change in spite of all attempts to keep it stagnate. Women have many more rights than they did even 20 years ago. Continuing to add feminist ideology and gay and lesbian influence will change it even more. I would like to see marriage as a contract between two people. If the individuals getting married want to involve religious ceremony and symbolism, I believe they should be able to do so.

    When Ani and I are able to be married, we will use traditions from Native American Spirituality and I am certain that I will add in some of the Hollifaith. Neither one of us is Christian and would never consider being married in a Church by a minister.

    For me, it is a recognition of our commitment to each other and has huge legal, financial, political, and community impact.

    Marrying Ani might be a huge mistake. Getting into my truck and driving to town might be a huge mistake. Only time will tell, but I will not go into this thinking that I can always get a divorce. My parents have been married for almost 50 years and I was with my former partner for almost 20. I am very glad that I never married her. It was a very acrimonious separation and I am certain adding an actual divorce to the mix would have been horrifying. [shudder]

    Perhaps marriages could be contracts with time options. One could choose a trial period of one to three years and see how things work out with options to extend or even do the happily ever after route.

    Bottom line, is that folks like Ricko have a particular idea about marriage that has already been relegated to the past. They are fighting a lost battle, but they may not be aware of that fact yet.

  4. smileycreek

    though married twice.

    I was adamantly opposed to the concept of marriage (didn’t wanna be no man’s chattel) until I met my future Mr. Creek, who had no desire to control me in any way.  By getting married we not only acknowledged our life-long emotional bond but also got a tax break that paid for a year of my tuition.  That was when I “got” the legal benefits of marriage.

    I’ve never been financially supported by a man, nor have I ever financially supported a man.

    I’ve never had children. By choice.

    I’ve been married 21 years to my true partner, in both business and in life.

    Whoever is at work, the other is at home making dinner and taking care of the garden and the dogs.

    Call it “marriage equality”, but it’s the only way I could ever live.

    And if anyone else, gay or straight, wishes to enter into the same contract, or any other contract that fits their needs, I say, let them legally, morally,and emotionally enter into it.  

    Let them define their own terms, as I have (in some religious circles I would be apostate for not multiplying and dividing, and having an abortion rather than having an unwanted child), and let them  assume the obligations as well as the incredible pain if it all falls apart.

    Any two adults should be allowed to  enter a life-binding contract, and if they happen to be the same sex it in no way diminishes the quality of my marriage.

    I just spent the weekend listening to my (thrice-divorced) visiting older brother bleat about the “sacredness” of marriage while equating same-sex marriage with marrying a goat.  It’s his own blessing that I didn’t split his skull with the fire poker when I had the chance.

    I would wish marriage on very few.  It’s no picnic.

    I would wish my own version of marriage on any couple willing to undertake it.  It’s beautiful.  It’s out of the mainstream.  It’s mine and I deserve to have it even if I don’t have kids.  (Who knows when they’ll come for the childless next and invalidate our marriages??)

    Over and out.

  5. GrassrootsOrganizer

    What I find most interesting about the entire question of marriage is how the “leftie” opinion of the institution has rolled over in thirty years from rarely necessarily evil (to be used only to gain emergency citizenship for your Canadian boyfriend so he can get food stamps) to “a recognition of our commitment to each other and has huge legal, financial, political, and community impact.”  We used to utterly reject the institution of marriage, not strive to reinvent it to liberally correct terms.  All things marriage used to symbolize 5000 years of male dominance regardless of how many cool marriages of equals there might be out there.  

    Back in the day, the thinking was fairly straightforward — a free thinker didn’t need no stinking recognition from the state or anyone else to commit to another free thinker.  Of course, no one was paying income tax or worried about getting their partner on their health insurance policy, so again the whole notion of civil unions for all makes sense to me.  But a progressive fight for the right to exchange rings and taking vows before some authority figure?  It’s almost nonsensical from a hippie perspective.   It’s like trying to reform slavery because there as so many cool ways to rethink modern slavery as a true partnership of equals we shouldn’t deny anyone the right to own slaves, including slaves.

    The words, the traditions, the symbols, the ceremony and the institution are so loaded with centuries of bad mojo it all seems beyond reform to me regardless of how well it can work for the well married few.  (go visit a DV shelter or sit through a day of divorce pretrials for a glimpse into the lives of those it isn’t working for)  

    And I have to wonder, will gay marriage bring positive change to the institution of marriage?  Or will the net effect be marriage has brought a whole new host of social ills to the gay community?  

    Let’s face it — to fight for the right to marriage one first has to buy into the Palinesque notion that marriage itself is a grand and glorious concept of preeminent benefit to the society, the community, the family and the individual.  Thus, in some sense, the gay marriage fight validates a huge chunk of bedrock “family values” rhetoric.  It’s confirmation of the belief that what’s best for all of us is not a village afterall, but pairs of people, theoretically committed to each other for life and publicly held to that commitment, one pair per domestic box, as the basic building blocks of our social DNA.  It’s like we somewhere along the line stopped questioning the validity of marriage itself in the rush to “redefine” it and make it equally accessible to all.  I’m still not sure the fight isn’t for equal access to a bitter addictive pill that just might be  harmful to the vast majority of us and a handy placebo for the social ills that plague us.  

    Stepping back a bit (to be even more annoying) — isn’t the basic problem here the widespread lack of recognition and acceptance of gay relationships as just as valuable and potentially enduring as straight relationships?  Will gay marriage actually change any of that by co-opting an already near meaningless designation from the straight world?  “Married” does not mean faithful, does not mean loyal or caring, does not mean life long and most certainly does not mean committed to anything but the trappings of social convention.  I would argue that the best committed partnerships exist in spite of the marriage, not because of it.  

    Case in point — what stronger commitment could there be out there than those between gay couples who for decades stayed together without vows and a license? (and to see those folks finally get their coveted marriage license is the only reason I’ve got for supporting gay marriage — and it’s a completely sappy one)   I’ve got a very short list of marriages in my head that demonstrate that level of commitment.  If anything, in regular everyday Straight World, the license is a substitute for a real ongoing commitment to one another, the shackle to the “old ball and chain”.  

    Maybe I’ve read too many Lockhorn strips over the years.  

  6. I’ve been waiting for someone to post something about Marriage per se. It cropped up in a previous diary, and like you GRO, I think

    Love and marriage

    Love and marriage

    Go together

    Like a horse and carriage

    i.e. the spontaneity and natural inclinations of love, are harnessed under the cruel yoke and intolerable burdens of modern marriage.

    Marriage, especially in the late 20th Century US Rom-Com form, has been confected into an impossible mix of sexual desire, romance, friendship, co-parenting deal, economic alliance and family bonding, that we all suffer under its multiple demands (men these days included). Everything has changed in terms of employment and equality between sexual partners (of whatever orientation or preference) and yet the fairytale remains alive, Santa Like.

    The only difference with Santa is that it’s only for a year or so that children are upset when Santa turns out to be a fairytale.

    Many millions weep themselves to sleep for years on end because of their disillusion with the fairytales of modern marriage.

    In the UK, Gay civil partnerships are treated just like marriages (I’m happy to say). My brother got married this way a couple of years ago, and so did a good friend – I was his best man. What amazed me (as it has with lesbian married friends) was how the conventions of marriage quickly colonised these new civil partnerships; the divisions of labour, the one at home, the one out late at night, the carer, the provider. Maybe these are so deeply embedded in our family romances that they are impossible to escape…

    We used to have jobs for life, and highly labour intensive domestic environments – so the institution of marriage made social and economic sense for millions, merely to survive. In these days, when domestic labour has been automated, where women are financially independent, and everyone has to change job and lifestyle several times in their lives, the institution of marriage has to change too. I’m a romantic so (having been married twice) I actually believe in it a bit excessively. But the time limits of each marriage should, as suggested above, be more renewable these days. Everyone who gets married (and plenty who don’t) want their partnerships to last forever. They shouldn’t be too penalised when they don’t.

    And though it depresses many when I dare to question marriage, as you do GRO, let’s not dismiss it in the name of cynicism, but in the name of hope: that it does not reflect the true diversity and richness of love in all its forms.  

  7. Jjc2008

    over the age of 40.  You know, “the old maid” that apparently no man wanted (no one ever believes it’s your choice).  

    Growing up, I never quite got what was in it (marriage) for females.  While my dad was a GREAT DAD who believed that my sister and I were as smart as anyone, male or female, and pushed us to choose our paths, like most men when it came to wives, he was fairly typical.  He was never abusive but his expectations were like most.  She was expected to “care for him” and the children and she worked full time.  

    I watched as after large family gatherings, my male cousins joined the men plopped in front of the television to watch football or baseball or whatever season it was, the girls were expected, as were our mothers, to clean up the dishes, serve the coffee and desserts, even though we had already spent hours doing all the preparation.  

    While my male friends and cousins got scholarships, trips to camp, etc etc we, girls, were barred from Little League, from most sports.  I was good at sports, better than the boys in my family yet I was not allowed to participate.  It was not fair, I often lamented.  My father agreed.  I graduate third in my class in academics, but got no financial rewards while males who graduate tenth, or eleventh got full rides to prestigious universities. Sigh.

    I don’t know that I consciously avoided marriage, but all the men with whom I shared intimacy, ended up have the same expectations of me based on gender.  I often tried hard to fit in, but in the end, my resentment poisoned the relationship.  I finally accepted that marriage was not going to work for me.  But being a single female also comes with a set of prejudices and biases that seem to get worse over time.  The older, never married female is viewed with derision in our society.  When I was younger, the odd one out was often not invited because the marrieds want even seating arrangements (rolling eyes icon here) or the single woman was viewed as a threat…..or a slut depending on how you talked, dressed and interacted with males.  Now as a mature 60 something, people assume I am a widow.  And that I must have children somewhere.  Sigh…..

    Respect is the issue.  Whether it is a husband for a wife, a society for the rights of both members of a marriage, or society for the rights of those choosing to remain single members, we all need to wake up and respect the individuals in our society be they gay, straight, male or female.

    I was hoping things had changed and I am sure they have for many but I still see too many young women still seeing marriage as an institution where they will be “taken care of” and where the young men still seek a person to support their own dreams.  

    I would hope gays are seeking something better than what “traditional” marriage still is.

  8. Michelle

    GRO, I am thrilled to see this diary here.  It has rattled around in my head since you posted it.

    I am a 32-year-old woman.  I am divorced.  I married at 21, and I divorced at 25.  I did what all my friends were doing at 21 in the deep South (Charleston, SC) — we were “supposed to” get married at 21 to our college sweetheart, settle down and start a family.  My rather large biological Southern family “expected” nothing less of me.  So, down the aisle I went….and off to divorce 3.5 years later in what has been termed a “starter marriage”.

    Let me tell you about the fucking pressure around marriage and divorce from an X generation perspective.  I don’t know what has changed from the 1950s, and I think it is getting worse.  All the Southern women in my upbringing “helped” me to “dream about marriage”, but I had dreams about going to school, seeing the world, and being independent.  Oh no.  I couldn’t do that.  Who would take care of me?  Why would I want to live alone?  Didn’t I want children?

    And then I announced to the world that I wanted a divorce.  I thought the fucking ground was going to fall out from under my feet.  ALL of my female friends turned their backs on me because I must have some sort of love disease.  How could I leave my husband?  I was married–and to a “nice” guy–so I must have been out of my fucking mind.  Heh.  Long story long, the pressure to get remarried was just as strong as the first time around.  And guess what?  I do NOT want to have children.  Shocking.  But hey, I have a choice.  And so many have an opinion and feel so free to share it with me — their opinions on ME having children.  Wow.  Who the fuck are you to tell me what to do?  Oh wait.  I’m a girl.  I can’t possibly think for myself without someone telling me what to do.

    So yeah, I get all of it.  Fight for your legal rights!  But for the love of all that is beautiful and holy, the institution of American marriage needs to be more than redefined.  It should be a phoenix rising from the ashes, reborn into something representing the freedom to choose not only who to love but the ability to make it work for the individuals involved that celebrates the uniqueness of their love.

  9. alyssa chaos

    gold. wow, I love the substance.

    I’ve always wondered about the whole name change dealy. You live your whole life as Jane Smith and then one day people start calling you Jane Doe. It must be surreal, at least it would be for me, I love my name so I cant even consider changing it\. Its probably the last thing people worry about when they get married…

    Hopefully gay couples forgo the traditional marritial roles that constrain straight folks, it seems like if anyone is to break them that they would be the ones able to do it.

  10. I think it’s important to separate one from the other, and not throw out the good with the bad.

    History is cruel, dark, and barbaric. So, yes, if you look at any given tradition or institution with enough history behind it, you are likely to find ugliness there.

    So, yes, the institution and tradition of marriage has historically been used — in many different ways — to express and enforce the endemic sexism of history. But it’s hardly unique in that respect.

    Take the institution of voting, for example. I doubt anyone here is ignorant of the fact that women weren’t allowed to vote. But it’s absurd to say “voting is bad because voting in America has its roots in a long history of sexism, racism, and class-warfare”.

    I mean, that’s all true. But when you spill milk on the floor, you don’t burn down the building to solve the problem. You take something that’s imperfect and you try to make it better.

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