Sunday, July 03, 2005

Something's Amiss With Marital Bliss

Holy Matrimony Batman. Gays and lesbians can now marry anywhere in Canada. It is the law of the land.

I must admit that, for a long time, I had my reservations about whether this would be a good thing or not. But, after a lot of thought, I’ve decided that I simply don’t care anymore. Sure, in my heart, I will always believe that marriage is solely between one man and one woman. However, I also believe in a lot of other antiquated things as well. Like, for instance, that divorce should be serious business and married couples should be treated with higher regard than common law couples. Talk about old fashioned, eh?

It should be clear to everyone by now that marriage lost most of its relevancy long before gays and lesbians were let in. The advent of no fault divorce and equal treatment for common law couples did more to degrade and devalue marriage than gay people ever could. In fact, when you look closely at those unfortunate social developments, gay marriage seems almost innocuous in comparison.

I think it’s time that all the supporters of traditional marriage faced it: gay marriage hasn’t rendered the institution of marriage meaningless; it’s already been relatively meaningless for a long time now.

And who do you suppose we can thank for setting us on this path of Holy Matriphony? Let me give you a few hints: he’s a man who told his sons that communist Russia would be the nation of the future; a man who admired and wanted to emulate Fidel Castro; a man who rode his motorcycle through the streets of Montreal during the second world war wearing Nazi paraphernalia. Now, you may ask how such a short sighted person could have gained the power to destroy marriage. Simple. Short sighted Canadians elected him Prime Minister. Need I say more about Pierre Elliott Trudeau?

Here’s how it went down. In 1967 Trudeau passed legislation making it easier to get a divorce. From there, things continued to slide until eventually we arrived at where we are today, with no-fault divorce - a legal process where a marriage can be dissolved by one party only, for no particular reason whatsoever.

Imagine, the most important personal contract in the history of humanity is now the only contract that can be broken by one party only, without the other party’s consent. Thanks to the wheels set in motion by Trudeau, a contract between you and your plumber to fix your toilet is more binding than a marriage contract.

Oh, and incidentally, did you know that mothers initiate 70% of all divorces involving children and two-thirds of the time it's because of a “lost sense of closeness” or “not feeling loved and appreciated”. Hmmm, when you think about it, maybe women are more of a threat to marriage than homosexuals. (That was a joke. No hate mail please.)

So, as divorces became easier to get, more people got them. As a result, people started looking at marriage with suspicion and distrust. After all, if so many married people were going to get a divorce, wouldn’t it be much simpler to just not get married in the first place? So many didn’t.

Of course, as we all now know, common law relationships are far less stable than married ones. And many people found themselves single after living common law with nothing to show for it. They didn’t have the same protections under the law that married people had. It didn’t matter that they were free all along to either convince their partner to marry them or find one that would. That wasn’t good enough. They wanted the same protection and property rights as married people, without the pesky bother of signing the necessary legal contract.

So, with various tax-funded feminist and leftist groups scratching at Parliament’s door, the government started passing laws giving common law partners the same rights as married spouses with respect to such things as succession law, property, government programs, pensions and support payments. By government decree, common law couples became equal to married couples, without ever having to make an equal commitment. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me.

Once upon a time, a man and woman would make a public vow to each other and sign a legally binding marriage contract signifying to the world that they intended to spend the rest of their lives together. It was a contract that was respected. It meant something. And it brought with it special privileges that people of lesser resolve – i.e., common law couples - were not eligible for.

These days, people who sign a marriage contract and make a lifelong commitment have no more rights than people who can’t be bothered. A couple willing to pledge allegiance to each other for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, until death do part, are now no more valuable to society and are treated no better than a couple who shack up and just happen to last a few years.

Of course, when it comes to the devaluation of marriage, we shouldn’t forget the media proliferation of shallow, superficial people using marriage as a publicity stunt. Take, for example, Brittney Spears’ weekend marriage. And then there’s the many reality TV shows where a bevy of beautiful, attention starved miscreants compete to marry someone of equally low personal quality.

Is it any wonder that marriage has been reduced to a sad, pathetic parody of what it once was?

Anyway, I still believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman. They would marry freely, choosing their own mate, with no cultural coercion or blackmail by their parents or community. Those who married would receive the benefits and respect that such a profound and freely offered lifetime commitment deserves. Anyone else of the opposite sex, same sex, different species or whatever, who chooses to live together, would be free to do so, but would have no spousal rights whatsoever.

We were all born to heterosexual couples; the vast majority of us to married ones. Without them, none of us would be here. These couples have created and nurtured us and our world. For untold centuries these couples had their own word to describe and celebrate their special and unique unions. And that word was marriage. It was once thought that they deserved their own word. Now, according to some, they no longer do. But still, the word itself remains in our vocabulary, despite having little resemblance to its original meaning. We can only hope that it, in its new guise, serves the future as well as it, in its old guise, served the past.

Whatever the case, it has been quite a while since marriage has held any significant meaning for heterosexuals. If things continue as they are, someday marriage will mean nothing at all. Some may believe that this is because homosexuals were allowed to share it with heterosexuals. As for me, I sincerely welcome homosexuals to this quickly disintegrating institution. Still, I cannot help but feel a little feel sad for them that they were not allowed to share it with us before it came to mean so little.