Over 50 couples lined up at the city clerk's office this morning as Washington DC's new gay marriage law takes effect. The Supreme Court turned down opponents who had asked it to stop the proceedings. Good thing, because straight people have almost as much to gain from gay marriage as the people in this morning's line.
Homophobia creates a great deal of marriages that end in divorce. Homophobia drives the fearful into fraudulent marriages. It compels people into deceit. Like my friend Paul. He wanted kids, he wanted job promotions, he wanted acceptance. What he didn't want was the stigma of being gay. He was convinced that he could not have what he wanted out of life without living a life he didn't want. So he lived a life he didn't want to get the things that he did. He married. And years later, when he couldn't bear living the lie anymore, he divorced. Leaving hurt children, an angry wife and confused relatives.
For every gay man or woman who married as a means of hiding--and then came out--there are at least three or four heterosexual victims: The spouse, the parents of the spouse, the parents of the gay person, the relatives of both and most importantly, the couple's children.
If we will not be punished for loving someone of the same sex, if we will not be denied the protections and benefits of marriage, if we will not be denied a promotion, what incentive do we have to pretend to be straight? If we can get everything we want out of life without pretending to be someone we're not, why go through the trouble of lying?
With the ability to marry, fewer and fewer of us will enter into sham marriages to get the privileges that come from being, or at least acting, heterosexual. As equality rises homophobia will fall and so will the need for using marriage as a bush we can use to shimmy over to the rights trough. By removing the need for marrying under false pretenses, same sex marriage will end needless heterosexual suffering.
Same sex marriage will also help heterosexual marriages in other ways. Like expanding gender role expectations. Because our relationships aren't based on defined roles or social conventions we negotiate everything--from who pays for the groceries to who cooks the meals. For example, who cooks and cleans when the couple is all-male? Who takes out the garbage and mows the lawn when the couple is all-female? As straight people see that conventional gender assumptions can be challenged and resolved to everyone's satisfaction, they too will experience the kind of freedom that helps marriages stay together.
Same sex marriage will also reinforce bonds between straight fathers and their children. If two married gay men adopt a child there will always be a father attending the child's school activities. Witnessing this, wives will put more pressure on their husbands to attend their children's activities ('Johnny's father is gay and he comes to the PTA meetings; why can't you?'). As straight fathers are pressured to change their priorities they'll forge deeper connections with their children.
Same sex marriage will also create stronger heterosexual marriages by changing the way straight married men relate to each other. Homophobia prevents straight men from bonding with each other in emotionally meaningful ways. They don't show their vulnerabilities and find it hard to talk to each other about their feelings. Gay marriage would decrease homophobia and allow straight men to be emotionally closer to each other without the fear of being perceived as gay. This emotional closeness would help men keep their marriages strong because they'd be able to lean on each other as problems in their marriage arise.
Contrary to everything that's said in mainstream papers, gays and lesbians aren't going to ruin marriage; we're going to improve it. This is going to be the mother of all make-overs. If it were a TV show it'd be called Queer Eye for the Straight Altar.
Mike Alvear is the author of the instantly downloadable ebook, Meet The Hottie In The Corner--
The 21 Day Plan To Overcome Your Fear of Rejection, Master the Art of Icebreakers and Snag Guys You Never Thought You Could Get.