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The Trouble with Marriage

Posted by libhom Friday, April 10, 2009

All anyone should need to do to see that the institution of marriage is dubious is to look at the high divorce and domestic violence rates that the institution causes. Another obvious approach is to just look around you and see how miserable most heteros are in their marriages.

Our society has so thoroughly romanticized marriage that we have completely forgotten marriage's original purpose. Marriage was originally intended to codify and enforce the status of women and children as property of men. That notion has gotten significantly less popular outside of the Christian Right and other religious extremists in our society, but the original structures of the institution are in place.

Can an institution that is designed as a property relationship really be turned into a loving, egalitarian one? Doesn't it make sense to start over?

The hateful and bigoted rhetoric of the Mormons and others who think that marriage should be limited to a man and a woman tend to make decent people want to be on the opposite side of them. Also, having two different legal standards based on sexual orientation is understandably objectionable.

When you add the highly offensive efforts of people to use the power of the state to impose their religious beliefs on people who don't share them, it is easy to see why people just want to shut them up by making legal marriage an institution independent of gender.

However, the long term solution to the marriage issue is abolition of all marriage, regardless of gender. It's not an easy struggle, and it probably won't be won in my lifetime. But, challenging deeply rooted and oppressive institutions is never easy.

The early gay liberationists were strongly critical of the institution of marriage as have been many feminists over the years. However, as lgbt people have focused more on acceptance than liberation in the last decade or so, pretending that we all want to mimic heterosexual marriage has become the biggest focus of our movement, to the detriment of issues that effect far more queers. The vast majority of us will never get married, regardless of the law.

At some point, people of all sexual orientations and gender identities need to face and tell the truth about marriage.

Marriage is a violent and oppressive institution that needs to go.



  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. I think it takes a certain level of courage to say it, and I agree.

  3. TRUTH 101 Says:
  4. You know GLH. I would think the right wingers and religious zealots would want the gay community to experience the misery of a bad marraige.

    Congratulations on the Iowa decision. I hope any efforts by the nuts that feel they must spend millions to "protect" the sanctity of the word marraige fail.

  5. Jimmy Says:
  6. Marriage is a fine institution. But, who the hell wants to be in an institution?

  7. C Woods Says:
  8. As a hetero who has been married twice, I agree and disagree with your comments. There are some advantages to marriage, mostly economic. When my first husband and I separated (amicably), we didn't divorce for 8 years so he, who was self-employed, could take advantage of my health coverage. We understood that we would divorce once one of us wanted to remarry. At that time, there were tax advantages yo being married, so we filed jointly. If the govt would get its act together to insure affordable health coverage for all and make no economic distinction between married or single people, then I would agree. But, then, there are some who need/want the "commitment" of marriage. I think it will take centuries for the institution of marriage to go away, if ever.

    Don't forget this is Blog Against Theocracy weekend. Write a post supporting church/state separation. Then submit it at:
    Then go to:
    to view your post and those posted by others.

  9. two crows Says:
  10. to hear the far-right wingnuts talk, marriage never was about ownership. it's this holy thing we mustn't tamper with.

    maybe what really threatens these folks is the fact that gay marriages are, by definition, equal partnerships -- since there's not one party that has been elevated and one that has been subjugated within it.

    so, maybe all those straights [at least the women] are jealous?

  11. C Woods Says:
  12. I just found a discussion on the Freethought Fort Wayne blog which posted the question: What’s so bad about civil unions, if they bear all the same legal rights as a marriage? What is a marriage, anyway, but a contract protecting two people legally and financially?

    There are some serious and not-so-serious thoughts on the subject there, that you may find interesting:

  13. Lew Scannon Says:
  14. The traditional notion of marriage is antiquated. However, saying that no one can be married is as bad as saying that gays can't be married. No one should have the right to say how another person should live their life.
    The truth is, if one is planning on procreating, a two partner situation is better for raising a child than a single parent.

  15. Christopher Says:
  16. Marriage is a violent and oppressive institution that needs to go.

    I think this statement may be accurate as a reflection of how the ruling majority, AKA, heterosexuals, have defined and behaved within the construct of marriage but, Jim and I have been together 18 years, we met when I was in my last year in college.

    I can honestly state we have never hit, struck, or sought to harm the other. I have never felt remotely oppressed by Jim -- quite the opposite. He's totally supportive and never criticizes. This isn't to say we haven't had arguments but even those are far and few between.

    The irony for us is, our relationship has outlasted most of the marriages of our straight friends -- many of whom are now on their second and third marriage. They ask us for advice such as "what's the secret?" All I know to tell them is, don't sweat the small stuff -- that's about all I've learned. If he leaves a light on in the bathroom and it bothers you, get up off your ass and turn it off yourself. If he forgets to buy your soy milk at the market, don't turn it into WWIII. Just say don't worry about it and mean it.

    People split up over the stupidest shit you can imagine.

  17. GDAEman Says:
  18. Is it OK that I'm laughing as I read this? Don't ask me why. Jimmy's comment on being institutionalized is pretty good too.



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