Redefining Marriage? Of Course We Are!

by Chris Eisenbahner

Yes, it’s true what they say. If two men or two women can get married, it will redefine the institution: and what’s so wrong with that?

Marriage was invented primarily so men could be as certain as they could be that they weren’t paying to raise someone else’s child.

It was a property transaction. Women fitted into the social order somewhere between men and livestock, traded and owned, the property of their fathers until such time as he could marry them off to his advantage.

We retain the vestiges of that in the marriage ceremony. “Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?” asks the priest.

No-one asks the woman.

All the arguments puffed out by the Christian right about the supremacy of ‘biological’ parenting hinges on this view of marriage. Translation: “We want our women to be dependent on their husbands, so that they do not stray, stay at home and raise the children.”

It’s all about propping up the privileges and ego of the heterosexual husband.

Because let’s face it, no matter how much you love kids, staying home all day with small children (plus one overgrown one at night), running the home and doing all the domestic chores, for years on end is bloody hard work. And not too good for the brain. Or your self esteem.

Those things are called chores for a reason; they’re chores! Shouldn’t they be shared instead of being loaded onto one person?

Years of Postman Pat, the Wiggles, Barney the Dinosaur, nappies, vomit, dependent for all your income and approval on one other person. Versus going out to work, mingling with other adults, getting your strokes from a range of folks, not just one, facing a variety of challenges.

Let’s be honest. When push comes to shove, what does it matter who raises a child, so long as that child is raised right, with love and care?

All this mystical sentimental rubbish about the special mother-child bond is just that. Rubbish, designed to keep women as unpaid childrearing and housekeeping operatives while Daddy gets to have the interesting life. Instead of the two of them sharing the good and the bad between them equally.

Of course equal marriage is a threat to that kind of marriage! Marriage equality is a threat to marriage inequality.

It says that your life is not be defined by your genitalia. It says there’s no reason a husband shouldn’t put his career on hold for a few years while he raises the kids: that the household chores are as much his job as hers.

It makes the old bargain, whereby a woman sells herself to a man for life in return for a home and shelter – which is what traditional marriage is – look like the rotten deal it always was.

Even nowadays, what does she get? Less pay, less status, less pension, and more work – because she still does most of the housework and the child-rearing.

Traditional marriage is a great deal for men, not so great for the women, but worse, far worse, it deprives both of one of the greatest joys there is: a truly loving relationship between two equals.

Something a same-sex marriage puts right in front of their eyes. Same-same = equal-equal. And maybe, just maybe, that’s what’s making them so bitter,angry . . and jealous.

I’ve often said, jokingly, that we need marriage equality so we can teach heterosexuals how to do it properly. But I’ll let you into a secret. It’s no joke.

The truth is, everyone needs equal marriage. Far from destroying the institution, which is already lurching towards it’s grave, it’s the only thing that will save it.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)