That’s how I want to go — with Terry, not before him, neither of us outliving the other. Death is a perverse measure of success, as I said, and I don’t believe that someone has to die in order for a relationship to be considered a success. But I live in hope that when our time comes, after many more happy years together, we’re both taken to Maloney’s on the same day, at the same hour.
In October, I went with a few friends to Dan Savage’s speaking event for the Literary Festival. I had already been acquainted with Dan Savage through his articles and dearly-departed MTV show Savage Love. I haven’t read any of his books, however, so I decided to pick up The Commitment and get it signed by Dan Savage himself.
I was already intrigued by many of his theories about sex, relationships, and sexual politics, but I also admit I liked the look of The Commitment by the baby blue cover with two little groom wedding cake toppers. And I wasn’t disappointed by the words inside. Dan Savage eloquently took on the subject of marriage through the story of his own marriage with partner Terry, a complicated journey that Dan and Terry hesitated about for awhile before. It goes without saying that gay marriage is a vastly complicated issue in American politics, but in order to analyze gay marriage, Dan also looks at the traditional form. Why are heterosexuals so intent on keeping an already “failing” institution as only a union between man and woman? Dan brings up many excellent points, showing us through the various debates that he and Terry took on while contemplating M-A-R-R-I-A-G-E the very evolution of the institution itself.
I have found that l myself have recently been debating marriage. I know, funny for someone who has never really had a long-term relationship at all, I still think it is important to think about. What has marriage become in recent years? It seems more like a sideshow, with TV shows like Four Weddings and Say Yes to the Dress, the thought of how many billions of dollars go into manufacturing carbon-copy wedding ceremonies, and then also those headlines about Kimye renting Versailles for a day for their million dollar nuptials. What do weddings mean anymore? And I suppose it’s typical for me, a middle class white heterosexual female of absolute privilege, to wonder about marriage as if its only that — only a commercial black-tie affair. Meanwhile a war wages on, as same sex couples petition the state to have not only a lavish, but tacky affair of their own, but to enjoy health care benefits, to share their estates together, and also the right to have a say in medical emergencies, (and as Dan discovers, even the medical emergencies of a partner’s pet.) I really appreciated this book for the entire autopsy Dan performs on marriage, why it won’t become obsolete, why gay and lesbian couples want to partake, instead of reject it completely.
I find myself totally agreeing with Dan that marriage isn’t bad, it just needs a bit of face lift. This institution after all is already evolving, still making that transition from wholly economic motivations to now motivations of LOVE and “happily ever afters.” Can we take away the “happily ever afters” and still have the LOVE? Can marriage become a state not marked by success or failure, instead a fluid structure that can accommodate the various types and varying lengths of love we see all around? And maybe then the pressure for marriage can be lifted from heterosexual couples who choose not to marry, disgrace won’t be laid against marriages that don’t survive, and the homosexual couples who want to be united as husbands and wives will be recognized.
Books Read: 14