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Carina Kolodny Headshot

Marriage Equality Is Destroying 'Traditional Marriage,' and Why That's a Good Thing (An Open Letter)

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Shutterstock / Everett Collection
Shutterstock / Everett Collection

To the enemies of marriage equality:

I definitely never lied. I am much smarter than that. I didn't perpetuate a fallacy; I just continually failed to correct it.

When your chest inflated and your eyes grew wider and you declared that "gay marriage is a threat to traditional marriage," I let somebody else tell you that you were wrong.

And when that somebody else -- exhausted from having to defend their very personhood, tired from battling for their constitutional right to equality, drained from being persecuted by small men inflating their arrogant chests -- said to you, "No, marriage equality will not change traditional marriage," I didn't have the heart to correct them.

For years and years I've strategically bit my tongue.

Had I not, I would have sided with you. I would have agreed with you. Marriage equality will, in time, fundamentally destroy "traditional marriage," and I, for one, will dance on its grave.

It's not a terribly difficult conclusion to draw.

As same-sex couples marry, they will be forced to re-imagine many tenets of your "traditional marriage." In doing so, they will face a series of complicated questions:

  • Should one of us change our last name? And if so, who?
  • Should we have kids? Do we want to have kids? How do we want to have kids? Whose last name do our kids take?
  • How about housework, work-work, childcare? How do we assign these roles equitably? How do we cultivate a partnership that honors each of our professional and personal ambitions?

As questions continually arise, heterosexual couples will take notice -- and be forced to address how much "traditional marriage" is built on gender roles and perpetuates a nauseating inequality that has no place in 2014.

This will eventually lead to an upswing in heterosexual women who do not take their husbands' names -- after all, are they not just as autonomous and their families just as significant as their LGBTQ counterparts?

Many same-sex couples won't want to have children, and since they'll feel less pressure to do what's normative, they won't. An increase in same-sex couples leading happy lives without children will empower heterosexual couples to see that not especially wanting children is a perfectly acceptable reason not to have them. This is fantastic news, because despite your ridiculous claims, children best thrive in families where they're wanted.

On the other hand, many same-sex couples will want to have children, and many will choose to adopt. As same-sex couples with adopted children build beautiful families, more heterosexual couples will realize the merits of adoption, and in time, women will not be shamed or limited by those "ticking biological clocks."

Same-sex couples will split marital responsibilities and roles differently based solely on circumstance, desire and skill. With a multitude of workable models, heterosexual couples will feel empowered to figure out what's right for them instead of being pigeonholed by what was entrenched by their great-great-great grandparents.

So yes, I told a white lie while soldiering on toward this inevitable outcome. I bit my lip in favor of dignity and equality -- not just for the LGBTQ community but for heterosexual women. I have done nothing for which I am ashamed.

You, on the other hand, told one whopper of a lie. You've been fighting in the name of "traditional marriage" -- appealing to some misplaced and backwards nostalgia while blatantly ignoring the traditions and cultural context in which the institution of marriage was originally conceived.

"Traditional marriage" was not about sanctity or God or even procreation. "Traditional marriage" was a property agreement that was entered into by two men.

This country adopted the English law of coverture, which meant "traditional marriage" was a transfer of a woman's legal rights from her father to her husband. Traditionally, women abandoned their father's name and adopted their husband's for no sentimental reason but because their personhood had been passed in a legal transaction from one man to another (much like the name on a deed changes when a piece of land is bought or sold).

When you advocate for "traditional marriage," you are not advocating for loving partnerships between men and women exclusively -- you are advocating for a model that has nothing to do with love or mutual benefit but revolves around the assumption that women are a commodity to be bought and sold.

I believe that marriage equality will stomp out the remaining misogyny that you call "tradition."
And that's a win, not just for the LGBTQ community but for heterosexual women and the heterosexual men who see them as equals.

If that still frightens and upsets you, then at least be honest abut your true concerns.

You're not really fearful for the welfare of children or the "sanctity" of marriage -- you are afraid of a world that sees men and women equally. No more and no less.

Sincerely,
Carina