A modest Maine marriage proposal
With the vote on Maine's same-sex marriage referendum (Question 1) approaching, marriage has been on my mind. Maureen and I have talked about marrying if the referendum passes, and recently it occurred to me that what has so far been purely theoretical really could come to pass, if the polls showing Question 1 doing well are right.
If Question 1 passes, all of a sudden Maureen and I, and a host of other couples previously ineligible to marry, would suddenly go from romantic fantasies to — argh! — planning a wedding. We'd have to figure out how to include everyone we want there and everyone who should be there without breaking the bank or starting a riot.
We'd be faced with decisions about what to wear — should one of us (or both) wear a dress? Should we get new rings, or keep the ones that have symbolized our commitment for the last dozen years? Do we want to have a church ceremony, or just visit a justice of the peace?
Restaurant or catered affair? How we'd find someone to make a zuppa inglese wedding cake to please my Italian-American partner I have no idea. And if we did, we'd argue over whether to have the traditional rum in it or not.
And that's just the beginning. After the wedding (don't get me started on planning a honeymoon), we would be legally hitched. No more living together with the knowledge, however far in the backs of our minds, that if we choose to split we can just call UHaul and divide the stuff. We'd have to get better at negotiation and compromise. Like it or not, we'd be responsible for each other's debts.
Eventually, at least one of us would likely be faced with a decision about a serious health issue affecting the other, since the law would finally recognize us as next of kin.
And if we managed to escape that grim possibility, it would be because we'd fallen prey to another, all-too-common one: divorce.
Well, it was all just too much to face. Then, in a moment of inspiration, I conceived a plan so brilliant in its simplicity I wondered that it hadn't occurred to me before: I could vote no on Question 1, and encourage lots of others to do the same. That would get us all off the hook — me, and the other marriage-phobes who have been happily living with their same-sex partners for years without benefit of a marriage license because, well, there was no choice.
We can't tell our partners that we don't want to get married — it might be misinterpreted as meaning that we just aren't committed enough. Heck, I'm committed. I just want to keep an escape hatch. Nothing wrong with that, is there?
I'm not too keen on those folks who go around saying that people like me don't deserve to get married because God doesn't like us (that's what "abominate" means, right, that he doesn't like us?). But I decided they could think what they wanted as long as I could keep my cold feet a secret.
After all, we had something in common, those anti-Question 1 people and I. We were ready to deny fellow citizens legal protections, more rational adoption procedures, survivor benefits, inheritance rights, the right to speak for their partner regarding health matters, the whole ball of wax, merely to keep things comfortable for ourselves.
There was one thing I couldn't do, though, and it proved fatal to my clever scheme: I could never deny others the right to speak their love in public and have it recognized as the God-given gift it is. And I can't deny that Maureen's love has been such a gift to me.
Sigh. Guess I'll have to vote yes after all.