Remembrance of an Earlier Battle in the Culture Wars: Same-Sex Marriage
[NOTE: The culture wars are heating up again. So-called Christians and politic whores who bow before them are engaged in “the bathroom wars.” It is all a ton of silly nonsense, unless of course you end up abused or arrested for not having the “correct” box checked on your birth certificate. All of this reminded me of a tempest in a teapot version of the longer term battle over same-sex marriage. So, here I post a short essay I wrote some time ago on same sex marriage. It is not so relevant today, but I like it and thought I would add it to the blog.]
“And wuv, twue wuv, will fowow you foweva…”
From Peter Cook, the impressive clergyman in The Princess Bride
William Goldman is a wonderful screenwriter. He won Oscars for his screenplays for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “All the President’s Men.” But, the screenplay of his that I truly adore is “The Princess Bride.” It is grand tale filled with swordplay, giants, rodents of unusual size (known simply as RUS’s), the Dread Pirate Roberts, screaming eels, wizards who can bring the “mostly dead” back to life while contemplating the pleasure of a nice MLT (mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwich), as well as kidnappers who compete at rhyming couplets. All these things, in combination with a tremendously talented cast, make it a charming movie that is a delight to watch again and again.
Though ostensibly for children, the movie is really something more. What makes it more than a simple adolescent frolic is its subject. The Princess Bride is a story of love, true love (Wuv, Twue Wuv). This love lasts for years; it weathers loss, pain, and separation; it is a love that never wavers. It is, in the end, the love we all deeply desire. Any who find love like this might as well forget about buying lottery tickets. They have already won life’s most important lottery.
The importance, the scarcity, and yes, the sanctity of true love is what upsets me most about the current same-sex marriage debate. The idea that same gender unions might somehow debase marriage in America is laughable. In reality, the sanctity of marriage in the USA is currently resting frighteningly close to rock bottom. Arguing that what American heterosexuals have made of marriage is somehow sacred is not really a tenable argument.
Let’s forget, at least for the moment, that marriage has deep historical roots in struggles for property and succession in male dominated societies. Let’s be starry-eyed romantics. Marriage should be about love, true love. Somewhere out there among those traditional marriages and same-sex unions that do not fail we have all those lucky couples who have found true love.
When you find true love, what do you do? Unless you are a complete idiot, you celebrate and give thanks. You also do all you can to protect your love and your lover from all possible threats. What should society do for those lucky enough to find true love? It should celebrate with them. It should also make certain that all “true lovers,” no matter their gender, have the same protection the law now so generously bestows on drunken heterosexual buffoons who just met in Las Vegas and think being married by an Elvis impersonator would be a “way cool’ story to tell the guys back in Poughkeepsie and the gals back in Muleshoe.
Obviously, my preferred solution to the question of who should be married is quite simple. States should only allow those couples to marry who have, or have a good likelihood of achieving, true love. Unfortunately, we currently lack a test that will tell us who has, or will achieve, true love. No one had to be psychic to see Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson as a couple whose divorce clock started ticking the moment they said, “I do.” Nonetheless, there was a non-zero, admittedly very small but still greater than zip, probability that they might have stayed married.
As ideal as my criterion for “marriage eligibility” may be, implementation is obviously a serious problem. Luckily, others have faced exactly this type of screening problem. I suggest that all states use a variant of a tried-and-true technique for differentiating the “deserving” from the “undeserving.” The most famous example of my chosen rule comes from a 13th century Catholic stalwart. He captured a city rife with heretics but containing good Catholics as well. When faced with the weighty decision of whom to kill, he famously said, “Kill them all, God will know his own.”
My favored rule’s results will be equally effective but less draconian. We will maximize the number of marriages founded on true love by following the simple rule. “Marry them all. Love, true love will always find its own.”
Any politico who so desires may integrate this stance into their position paper on “Same Sex Marriage”. They may claim this approach as their own with no requirement that they give credit to me or any long-dead, blood splattered Catholic zealot. If they don’t accept this position, then I doubt that they have any understanding of the immense value of love, true love.