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Advice: Can I support gay marriage but not marriage in general?

Is it possible to support same-sex marriage at the same time that I don't support marriage in general? I respect and love my gay friends and certainly wouldn't want to deny them any of their rights, but I've never believed in marriage as an institution, and I find myself at odds. --Confused but Hopeful

Dear Confused,
For those of you who have missed all the hullabaloo and the red equality signs on Facebook and Twitter, the Supreme Court has been hearing two gay rights cases this week: Prop. 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. The outcomes may affect the rights of gay people dramatically. Most notably it will affect my willingness to keep buying straight people bath towels for their weddings. Seriously, people. The gays have stocked your closets! Won't you let us come out of ours?

That said, you can absolutely hold both beliefs. You can be against marriage as a concept but in favor of equality, which is really what this issue is about anyway. Marriage is almost a red herring at this point. What's really being argued is why gay people, who are tax-paying citizens of the U.S., are being denied equal protection under the law. As the 14th Amendment makes pretty damn clear:

"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States ... nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

The 14th Amendment, you'll remember from high school Civics class, is why schools aren't allowed to be racially segregated, and why an Asian can marry a Latino (or any interracial combination) without, like, Armageddon happening.

You can want to support your queer friends and loved ones, but also find it strange that there are 1,000+ benefits married people incur from the simple act of saying "I do." I certainly do. And I wish there was a better way to get things like social security benefits, health insurance, immigration privileges, child rearing and hospital rights without the yoke of the marriage contract, but sadly, that's not the reality in which we currently live.

Many queer people feel the same way that you do and are conflicted on the issue of marriage (my own girlfriend doesn't believe in marriage--but if SCOTUS decides to kill DOMA and Prop. 8, it's not going to impinge on anyone's right to NOT get married if they don't want to. No one's going to tie tin cans to your Chevy while you sleep or sign you up for a registry at CB2.

So in short, yes, feel free to rail against the heteronormative, patriarchal, outdated institution of marriage. Just make sure you do so while also waving a tiny rainbow flag and wearing a sombrero. You know, just to keep things interesting.

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Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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