We’re sure that most of you know by now about the Defense of Marriage Act being overturned in the United States as well as California’s Proposition 8 being termed unconstitutional. For those of you who don’t know, to summarize it briefly, these two pieces of legislation denied marriage rights to anyone who was of a different sexual orientation than heterosexual. This was a landmark ruling for the Supreme Court of the United States and as such, a huge step forward in LGBTQ rights all over America. There has been an unprecedented amount of coverage on the overturning of DOMA and Prop 8, so we will leave the reporting on that issue to the news organizations whom have been following the case so closely all this time.
There is something that needs to be analyzed and that is marriage in general. What has been deemed “Traditional” marriage has now been overthrown, but in essence marriage remains unchanged. We have seen over the years many people who were (and probably still are) against gay marriage without realizing that there’s no such thing as gay marriage. Non-heterosexual couples had no interest in creating a new marital institution called “gay marriage”. Instead they wanted access to the basic right of marriage without creating a new and segregated form for themselves.
As a society, we cling to the traditions of marriage even as our social values change as if marriage is the last sacred thing left. Now some of you are probably rolling your eyes by now. “Oh, AshleyMadison.com hates marriage, how original.”
That statement is wrong because we don’t hate marriage. In fact, we think that marriage is a beautiful thing and that a commitment between two people is wonderful. The problem that we have with marriage is not that it exists, but that it is forcefully monogamous. Now every other social system that we have changes. The way we practice our religions change, the way that our political system works has changed and yet with marriage, we still wish to keep the same standards that have been present for hundreds of years. Aside from tradition though, why are we keeping these things?
We use machinery rather than relying on the horse and buggy, we use computers instead of parchment and inkwells, so why is it with certain social values that we dig our heels in even though it makes no sense to do so speaks more of stubbornness than wisdom.
We have already changed marriage where we deem it expedient and this isn’t including the inclusive civil rights movements regarding interracial and queer marriages. Divorces are common and so are single parent households. There are no longer dowries or the idea that the father can arrange a marriage for his daughter or son which they have no say against. We threw away these traditional aspects of marriage because they became inconvenient or outdated and yet we’re still holding onto the idea of monogamy as if it is the only natural course.
People have even argued that it is the natural course, pointing to the animals which mate for life in nature whilst ignoring the many millions of creatures that roam the earth and do not fall into the category of monogamous.
It’s time to move past our social fears of non-monogamy and start opening up the discussion as to whether open marriages would be preferable. The argument that there isn’t a market for cheating is false; 20 million members and counting prove that it is demonstrably false to claim so, yet there are people who still want to claim that marriage is sacrosanct. Marriage itself as an institution is helpful and the idea of binding yourself to a partner is a beautiful one. There are, however, reasons as to why we should be allowed to have open marriages.
As humans we evolve with the times so as not to paint ourselves into corners.
So why do we let marriage stagnate?