First comes love, then comes marriage

A popular phrase, maybe even cliche? So true, especially now–very few get married when they are not in love in today’s culture.  However, why then, when we are talking about gay marriage, does it seem that this phrase transforms into, “First comes sex, then comes marriage“?

This came up the other day at brunch.  I was having quite a stimulating conversation with a friend about the implications of gay marriage on our students the other day.  She mentioned she was going to start a unit, a rather creative one at that, in which students are expected to evaluate a “problem” and try to solve it. I use “problem” in quotations, because she is not referring to math problems; rather, she is referring to any type of problem. Specifically, she mentioned that she will be requiring the kids to use current events for that.  This is just one of the reasons why I love talking education with this friend, in particular.  She really knows how to take the skills that the kids learn in school and connect them very seamlessly to the world around them. In fact, when I’m planning units, I oftentimes think of her.

In addition to her unique view on education, I also respect her ability to be metacognitive and appreciative of divergent thinking, and in this conversation, in particular, I am particularly grateful for that.  As I said, we were discussing her unit, and she mentioned that a bunch of kids would be bringing in current event articles.  Naturally, I asked her, “Well, what if they bring in an article on gay marriage?”  I was curious to see how she would handle it, as I don’t know what I would do.  I guess I shouldn’t say I don’t know what I would do; I know what I would want to do, and I wanted to see if mine was a rational train of thought.  Whether I would actually have the balls to do it is another question.

She mentioned that she would probably handle the matter privately, as she wasn’t sure if she could tackle that with the whole class.  I immediately took the defensive, as I tend to do, so I probed further.  I, of course, would want to address it, as someday I will probably be married and would want to be able to share that with my students.  So I asked why, and she stated that some of the content which would be discussed would be inappropriate.  Of course, my friend is fully accepting and approving of gay people and gay marriage, so I knew she didn’t mean it was inappropriate to be gay; rather, she was referring to the sexual connotation that seems to underly any discussion of gay people or gay marriage in our culture.

And herein lies the problem

And this is the problem, which I described to her as well.  When we talk straight marriage, the first thing that most people think of is “love.”  My friends that are getting married at school are more than encouraged to share the news with their kids, as it means they’ve found someone to love.  When the idea of gay marriage is discussed, people’s brains immediately divert to sex, like that is the reason that gay couples want to get married.

Naturally, my friends at work will not be discussing their sex lives with their fiancee or spouse; rather, they will say (or the students will simply infer) that they are getting married because they are in love.  Likewise, any self-respecting gay person would do the same.   So why can’t we approach gay marriage from that angle?  Let’s face it, people–no one’s getting married so they can have sex anymore, and few are waiting until they get married.

At the end of our conversation, my friend sat quietly for a short moment, after I gave my little spiel on why gay marriage can and should be discussed.  She simply said, “Wow, well I guess I did that, too,” meaning she went to sex first, love second.

We need to change the perception.  It’s not about sex; it’s about love.

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