An interesting article by Ms. Cara Buckley in The New York Times about some gay folks including long-term couples who choose not to marry, not even in the 14 states there that now allow it.
Some of the reasons mentioned or indicated by those interviewed are:
- It carries with it legal complications and financial burdens, including potentially higher taxes in joint filings.
- The risk of the torturous experience of divorce, especially for those who are themselves children of divorce, who may already view marriage as not being the key to happiness.
- It goes against their beliefs, religious or otherwise.
- They already feel married. A couple says: “We are in all senses married, and it isn’t going to change anything in terms of how we feel about each other.”
- Marriage may be considered an outdated institution by some, one that forces same-sex couples into the mainstream.
- Some see marriage through the lens of a feminist critique of marriage, which considers it “not as a freedom to be gained but as an institution that has historically oppressed women”.
- Marriage is inherently unfair. It privileges couples and stigmatizes singles.
- It should not be a prerequisite for obtaining health care and deeming children “legitimate”.
An interviewee raised her concern that as gay marriage becomes more and more the norm, relationships of gay couples who choose not to marry, even though deeply committed but just not traditional, will be further marginalized, even by other gay people.
The article also contains a quote from one of my favourite film directors John Waters, which made me smile:
“I always thought the privilege of being gay is that we don’t have to get married or go in the Army.”
My favourite quote from the article, though, came from Mary Bernstein, a 50-year-old University of Connecticut professor who also authored “The Marrying Kind?”, a book on the marriage debate in the gay rights movement. She said of her relationship with her partner of 15 years, 61-year-old Nancy Naples with whom she is raising twin 9-year-old daughters:
“Some people feel the need for external validation. For us, I don’t think we could be more committed.”