If you were listing the greatest love stories of all time, it wouldn't include poor Britney Spears. Her most recent marriage ended after a little more than two years, but she might be better known for her infamously short 2003 Vegas marriage to a childhood friend that lasted only 55 hours. Is that a record?
Britney may be a pop star but she's hardly a star at marriage. But chances are she'll walk down the aisle again at least once, maybe more, in her lifetime. After all, this is a free country and she has every right. Which is precisely why I made Britney my target for the gay rights rally held in Greensboro, North Carolina, this past weekend. My rally sign read: "Britney Spears, 55 Hours. Me -- Never?" I borrowed the idea from a photo of a similar rally in California where people filled the streets to speak out against the passage of Proposition 8, which removed the right of gays and lesbians to marry in that state.
My point is this: If those who supported Prop 8 truly want to protect marriage, then they need to do something about the Britneys of the world, those heterosexuals, celebrity or not, who rush into marriage or marry for all the wrong reasons and -- surprise! -- end up divorced before all the wedding gifts are even opened. This kind of disregard by straight people for the sanctity of marriage is appalling to us in the GLBT community. Are they only driven by their sexual desires? Do they not know what real love is? And think of the children.
After the rally this weekend, I was discussing this dilemma with friends, and we have some suggestions for saving traditional marriage. First, outlaw divorce. If a guy knew he couldn't dump his wife for the next pretty young thing, he might think more carefully before getting married. Second, make getting married more like applying for a driver's license. An old-fashioned written test might discourage those who just aren't ready for the rigors of marriage. It seems churches would support these ideas since many of them frown on divorce. I think that's even in the Bible.
All kidding aside, I shouldn't pick on Britney or any heterosexual. Marriage is tough. My family has weathered its share of divorce, and although I'm not technically married to my partner, you don't last 14 years without being able to work through some rough patches. That's right, I said 14 years. Although it isn't state-recognized or church approved and didn't happen in Vegas, we've been through better or worse, sickness and health and all the rest for way longer than Britney can imagine. But we can't call it a marriage.
So what is it, exactly, that my partner and I have? Conservatives and religious extremists insist marriage is only between a man and a woman. My dictionary must be in league with them since it concurs that marriage is "the legal union of a man and a woman as husband and wife."
Fine, we don't have a marriage. But I think what we have is a great love story. For many in the GLBT community, society refuses to recognize our love, our families may disown us and we must work out our futures without the support systems that others take for granted. Think about your favorite love stories, and you'll always find two people whose love for each other is stronger than anything that separates them. You might think of the star-crossed lovers in Romeo and Juliet or even Carrie and Big in Sex and the City. Regardless of how their particular stories ended, they were in love and, ultimately, nothing stood in their way.
I may never have the right to marry my partner. Regardless, I will continue to love him as best I can. After 14 years, we have something special, something that everyone, including Britney, is searching for. And I don't need the approval of the state or any church to tell me it's special. If I can't have marriage, I'll settle for love.