Newcastle — The same sex marriage question reappears on the Maine ballot, by public initiative, after the legislature's passage was rejected in referendum three years ago. Proponents are very determined. It certainly appears that the “vote yay” clearly outnumber the “vote nay,’ judging by signs posted in yards and along the byways. The action reminds me somewhat of the long ago and annually repeated call for an Equal Rights Amendment. That one eventually vanished when it became irrelevant, equality having come about, happily, without a constitutional amendment. I suspect we would get the same outcome with this current burning issue, but it’s surely more fun to get all worked up and fling phlegm.
Marriage, same sex or otherwise, is a rather contentious sacrament. Tich Nhat Hahn, in Touching Peace advocates a solitary year of “finding oneself´ before taking the vow. His reasoning is that couples entering marriage know each other only superficially and lacking confidence in understanding even one’s own self can only lead to marital discontent, at least in the early years. His is probably good advice, though I think it a bit severe.
I suggest that living together in sin is a good thing, and certainly more commodious than Tich Nhat Hahn’s recommended year of abstinence. Given that living together and even raising children out of wedlock is so commonplace today there should be no stigma attached. I’m furthermore cheered that the marriage age is increasing, largely because of career choices, and hope that presumed greater maturity will eventually lead to a reduction of the high divorce rate in this country. And here is a positive for same sex marriage, because I expect that it will dramatically decrease the incidence of divorce. Let’s be honest, almost all of us get along better with members of our own gender. Just look at the way people group together, at least post puberty.
Lawyers are (as usual) a problem. Marriage is so easy to enter and so difficult to escape (though less so than previously). The barristers have made life miserable for years by interfering with simple separation when marriage becomes intolerable. Regrettably, due in part to the equality marriage question, the lawyers are worming into the onset and not just the termination of blissful union. “How so?” you ask? It’s the question of gender. In the old days we took it for granted that we could tell boys from girls, but this, like everything, has become complicated. Let’s make sure this chap is really a boy before we consider the marriage question, same sex or otherwise. Kill all the lawyers.
Many people pressing for the “yes” vote point to the social injustice suffered by same sex partners who are unable to marry and enjoy the attendant benefits. An obvious example is that recognized couples are treated differently by the tax man. And don’t believe the blarney about a “marriage penalty.” Quite the contrary, there is a “single’s penalty.” However, rather than argue the point let’s just agree that the tax code desperately needs simplification and leave it at that.
I happen to be a follower of Epicurus and Lucretius who, completely rejecting liturgical arguments, postulated that the only purpose in life is the pursuit of pleasure. Unfortunately as a would-be Buddhist I recognize that a truly happy life is unachievable. The best one can hope for is emptiness and a path for alleviating anxiety. Practice your Paramis. Thomas Jefferson was also a follower of the above-mentioned philosophers, and because of this included “pursuit of happiness” with “life” and “liberty” in the Declaration of Independence. If equality marriage is a part of that pursuit, it should be condoned or even encouraged!
I think a “yes” vote is indicated. End of lesson.