Tonawanda News

June 27, 2013

So you want to defend marriage

--
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — I walked in the door after work on Wednesday, greeted my kids, kissed my husband ... and paused.

It had been more than six hours since the Supreme Court issued its ruling striking down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. And, funny, my marriage felt just fine. Same as it had that morning, actually, although with both members a little more tired and stressed than earlier in the day (thanks to eight hours with the kids or at the office, respectively). I guess we didn’t need to be defended so much, after all.

I’ve never understood the rationale that opposing same-sex marriage is somehow protecting the more traditional form of union. No one’s telling Joe and Jill Q. Public who just picked up a marriage license that their upcoming nuptials are off. No one’s at my door telling my husband and I that our marriage is now invalid. No one’s tell our friends who just got engaged, “Nope, you can’t do that!  You have to go have a same-sex marriage! Sorry!”

So I don’t get it.

Now, if you’re against it for whatever reason, whether it’s religious or political or otherwise, that’s another thing. That’s up to you. You do get to decide for yourself. If you don’t like same-sex marriage, well, don’t get one. Don’t attend the ceremony. Don’t support those who marry, or those who support them.

Eventually, those getting married may be those you know and love personally, but these are choices we all have to make for ourselves.

But you want to defend traditional marriage, you say. Marriage the way you believe it should be. No one else’s beliefs or feelings matter.

Fine. 

You want to defend marriage? You want to protect the American family? 

OK. That’s fabulous. 

As someone who’s nearly 11 years in to a fairly typical U.S. marriage with a fairly typical U.S. family, I appreciate that. There are a lot of stressors that factor into the reasons marriages fail and families fall apart. I’ve experienced some (still strong, though) and seen others happen to friends and loved ones. No one said making a marriage work was easy.

Here’s how you can help. Really help, not just wave a flag and complain about things that don’t affect you.

You can support better, cheaper health care. There are few greater stress factors for a marriage than health problems, and better health care means more issues dealt with before they can become serious. One of those few greater stressor? Medical bills. You can decide not to go on vacation or out to dinner or not to buy a new TV, but when the hospital slaps you with a $4,000 bill for junior’s lifesaving heart surgery and insurance only pays a tiny fraction of it .... you can’t really say “No thank you.”

You can support better family leave policies: Better maternity leave, better paternity leave, more flexibility for those who have to care for an ill spouse or child or parent. How better to keep families together than to give them a good start, or a little more help when they need it most?

You can support a living wage. Not the measly little increases in minimum wage we see from time to time. The sort of wage that actually makes it possible for parents to see their kids and buy healthy groceries for actual family dinners and maybe even allows for a stay-at-home parent of whichever gender — or at least pays for good childcare when both parents need to work.

A friend of mine once wrote memorably (although I’m paraphrasing here) that companies that refuse to pay their workers a living wage are as much to blame for the breakup of the American family as crack cocaine. I submit that companies that refuse to pay their employees a living wage are far, far more to blame for the breakup of the American family than gay marriage.

So, there you have it. I’m sure there’s more you could do, but those would help. I feel confident in guaranteeing that those things would save many, many marriages. 

So all you defenders of marriage, get right on it, OK?

We’ll be waiting.

Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at jill.keppeler@tonawanda-news.com. She's also trying to figure out this Twitter thing, and you can follow her there at @JillKeppeler.