One of the last places on the Internet that you would expect to hear even a mildly dissident voice on the topic of gay marriage is at the Left-leaning website of the Daily Beast. But in an article by Natalie Neusche, the overall relevance of the marriage bond for gays and lesbians is indeed getting a going over.
Now don’t think that Ms. Neusche is daring to turn her back on the political battle for gay marriage. To the contrary, her observations in the Daily Beast are loaded with lots of bobs and curtsies to the marriage equality movement. But for Neusche, it is the institution of marriage in and of itself, whether for straight or gay couples, that is leaving her flat and uninspired.
For all the effort we’ve put into fighting for the right to do it, the dirty little secret is that many gays are simply not sure about same-sex marriage. Of course we believe in equality. But when it comes to marriage, our personal relationship with the idea is tenuous. Growing up in a society where most of the marriages around me failed bitterly or were one of multiple (because the only thing better than one “special day” is five), I’m turned off by the whole idea. Daily Beast
But in between the general comments trashing the post-modern relevance of the traditional marriage bond, Neusche tentatively touches on the one-concept-fits-all approach to the gay marriage issue, challenging it’s validity and usefulness.
But there’s a subtler, even more insidious anxiety lurking beneath the surface of our gay-marriage win. It’s the unsettling possibility that we’ve spent the past couple of decades fighting to fit into an institution that doesn’t necessarily fit us. We’ve been so focused on getting marriage “equality” that we’ve hardly stopped to think about how we’d feel about actually being married.
Neusche also acknowledges that by simply raising doubts about the personal efficacy of gay marriage for her own life that she has opened herself to a broadside of criticism and censure. And certainly, she gets more than a few helpings of that kind of narrow-minded hash in the comments section following her article. But interestingly, Neusche also gets support and affirmation.
It is certainly taboo in gay circles for a lesbian woman to openly declare that gay marriage is not that important to her at a time when the gay equality movement has set this nuptial nugget as its ultimate prize. But Neusche gives voice to a truth that gay marriage proponents have vigorously attempted to censor for years: many gays and lesbians in our community care not a hoot about gay marriage.
I do not share Ms. Neusche’s views on the institution of marriage as it applies to straight or gay couples. But I applaud her courage in saying her say, knowing full well what it will cost her.
[Natalie Neusch is the Assistant Managing Editor at Popular Mechanics magazine and a freelance writer. She previously worked as a copy editor and writer for Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food.]