New York Times OP-ED by JONATHAN RAUCH discusses the way that marriage is always the elephant in room of romantic relationships. It’s the first piece to the puzzle of understanding conservative’s problem with the idea of gay marriage.
Social-science research has established beyond reasonable doubt that marriage, on average, makes people healthier, happier and financially better off. More than that, however, the prospect of marriage shapes our lives from the first crush, the first date, the first kiss. Even for people who do not eventually choose to marry, the prospect of marriage provides a destination for love and the expectation of a stable home in a welcoming community.
One of the things that I believed about marriage in my own relationship was that it was simply a formal acknowledgement of where my relationship already was. My concept of and commitment to marriage was reached well before any ceremony. Between this and the way my peers structure their relationships the legal and religious aspects of marriage are no longer primary (if they ever have been in my lifetime).
The McGreevey debacle suggests why all Americans, gay and straight alike, have a stake in universalizing marriage. The greatest promise of same-sex marriage is not the tangible improvement it may bring to today’s committed gay couples, but its potential to reinforce the message that marriage is the gold standard for human relationships: that adults and children and gays and straights and society and souls all flourish best when love, sex and marriage go together.