Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Single People and the Right to Marry

Justice Anthony Kennedy's opinion on the gay marriage question delighted most advocates for gay rights and many friends of marriage, but it has left a bitter taste in the mouths of many single people. They are a bit miffed by lines like:
Marriage responds to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there. . . . No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family.
Kennedy worried that to be denied marriage is to be
condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions.
Like Michael Cobb, I wondered how single justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan felt when they signed Kennedy's opinion.

From what I have read online and heard from my friends, most single Americans seem to be taking this in pretty good spirits, understanding that the case and the moment called for a ringing endorsement of marriage; nobody wants to rain on the parade of ecstatic gay couples. But I suspect there is some bitter complaint in private, between single friends.

Modern marriage is a strange and powerful thing; we put a lot of eggs in this one basket, and that makes its success or failure a very big deal in our lives. A good marriage consistently shows up as one of the most important ingredients in a happy life, worth more than all the money in the world. But a bad marriage can make you miserable, and divorce is an emotional catastrophe. This had bred a lot of ambivalence in the culture, and books or films advocating for marriage sometimes generate furious controversy.

I feel personally about marriage the way I feel about children: having these things has been great for me but I wouldn't recommend them for everyone. In our world you have to choose your own path and then -- this is often the hard part -- learn to love the path you have chosen. Whether with a spouse or without.

1 comment:

kpgoog said...

Not pertinent, but... You gotta see this, if you havent already: http://story.maps.arcgis.com/apps/StorytellingSwipe/index.html?appid=459ff1719f5f427180cd8b793894052b&webmap=7076dcc3049c44c68ef7afc36b754e87