on covenant: point, counterpoint


“I feel that most people would consider marriage more than just a metaphor. Whether viewed in a religious, legal, or romantic light, I think that marriage for most people represents a covenant that people come to rely on, and can become the underpinning of their lives and sense of identity.” —el jefe


a covenant is just a fanciful word for contract–one in which almost any two people could go out monday morning and have a marriage license in a matter of hours.

as current american heterosexual marriages only work out 51% of the time, i’d say that’s a damn shabby covenant. it seems that marriage is a dying standard, and knee-jerk heterosexuals want to make it even more exclusive and restrictive.

i can tell you what effect that has on me. i’d sooner do anything else than get married and be associated with a covenant of discrimination. throwing out the baby with the bathwater…? what baby?

and that’s what’s probably going to happen. marriage will either be forced to expand (albeit begrudingly) or it will dig in its heels and be obsoleted by civil unions in their innumerable variations.


Thank goodness. I wasn’t sure where all this was going. You can’t defect on me now!

el jefe

I’d say contract is just a cheap way of saying covenant.

— only work out 51% of the time

Please. Such a glass is half empty, cynical perception. If marriage worked out 100% of the time, it would be a worthless institution berefit of human emotion. That’s pretty shabby… When it does work, when two human beings do have what it takes to go the distance then I think it’s understandable when they are jealous of this accomplishment.

BTW please don’t paint me into the anti-gay marriage corner. While Justin might suggest that he’s on the side of those homosexual couples who would like to be wed, clearly he is not. He is a part of the sect that the “knee-jerks” fear, people who are in favor of such unions because they don’t see the value in them in the first place.


defect from what?

el jefe, no intent to out you a homophobe. i’m interested in exploring “Marriage” the institution and “marriage” the metaphor on many levels.

the issue, however, is freedom. the sect i’m a part of is for greater freedom for all people (and less governmental involvement or restriction—which i thought should appeal to your libertarian leanings), regardless of my personal feelings about “Marriage” the institution.

el jefe

Well I would agree with you there. I find the idea of the government disallowing certain groups from a legal marriage to be a basic violation of the bill of rights… The problem with this issue, much like abortion, is that the two sides approach the problem from two completely different arenas… one legal, one moral/religious.. I do, however, find this issue to be far less confusing…

In this issue I find myself an aberration, since I find particular value in the institution of marriage and as a Christian have no problem with homosexual couples being married… But I’m a liberal Episcopalian, and we’ve become reviled by many corners..


defect from what?

Sorry, to clarify, I get tired of being the only person who thinks marriage is crappy and you were sounding more and more “pro” with each post! But I think I get what you’re saying.


so, justin, does this mean that you have a history of being anti-marriage? or anti-“baby” to use your bathwater analogy?

Wow. I had no idea such interesting stuff was going on over here. :-)

I’ll say that I’m torn on the issues that you guys are debating. Justin, the 51% comment is just wacky…why should that have any effect on whether or not people should be able to contract with each other in some way? Just because a contract fails doesn’t mean you get rid of contracts….90% of all businesses that are started fail. So what? Don’t go into business?

I thought that perhaps an anecdote about Bets and I might be interesting. We were together for 7 years before we got married, and when we DID decide to get married, we ran away to NOLA to do it. So why did we decide to finally tie the knot? Was it because we had some deep meaningful connection that needed legal recognition? Hell no. It was because we didn’t want to have to explain our situation to dumbfucks when we went to buy a house. Or when we filed our taxes. Or a hundred other legal things that this country makes EASIER on married couples. There’s a reason for allowing homosexual marriage..because honestly, this country is terrifically biased towards marriage. Many, many things are easier when you are married.

Side anecdote, stolen from a conversation earlier with Betsy: two of our very good friends are a gay couple in rural Ohio. They had to go through an _enormous_ amount of legal trouble to draft papers that fulfill the de facto rights that married couples enjoy (the right of inheritance, medical decision rights, etc…). This was such a big deal, and is so important to them, that they carry the papers EVERYWHERE THEY GO. Why? Because they can’t say “we’re married.” They carry these papers that give legal force just in case one of them is in an accident. Because they would have to prove to some authority that yes, I’m the one he wants making decisions. This would never happen to Betsy or I.

jane: i think i’ve had a history of being leery of most any ‘social expectation/institution’ until i have time to deconstruct it, understand it, and decide whether or not i feel there is any value in taking ownership of it.

jason: killer comment. i keep telling jane i haven’t been to any weddings for my contemporaries (just relatives, cousins) and so my only exposure is melanie, who’s getting married in may, and you/betsy. this lack of immediate experience definitely colors the opinions i’ve been exposing on my blog.

i understand the basis for social support of marriages and families, but why are such hardships lumped on those who choose alternatives?

lastly, el jefe, jason, and jane have commented on the oft-quoted stat that half of all marriages fail. i was *not* using this as a reason not to get married, i was using it as a jab at those who presently feel marriage is “sacred” and needs to be defended from people who, get this, actually want to be married!

the reason i find myself feeling opposed to Marriage as an institution is the federal government’s pursuit to encode it with discrimination.

el jefe

—The reason i find myself feeling opposed to Marriage as an institution is the federal government’s pursuit to encode it with discrimination.

Eh? bad news for Jason and Melanie I guess


who’s jason?


nevermind. i was reading that like they were a couple or something.

Jason/Betsy and Melanie/PJ aside, any currently or soon-to-be married couple has every right to define their marriage [as a metaphor] for themselves. They may have decided to get married because “this country makes it EASIER on married couples” or heck, even for romantic love reasons.

But if Marriage the institution continues to be “redefined/re-emphasized” as a discriminatory union, then that ease they were seeking may actually seem more like white supremacism was to civil rights in middle of the 20th century.

for those keeping score, that’s:

Marriage : marriage :: white supremacism : civil rights

I like the clarification.

Personally, I’d love to see the US just let anyone who wants to be married get married. Boy/girl, girl/girl,boy/boy, girl/girl/boy, boy/boy/boy…who cares? Our legal structure is going to have to learn to deal with these things someday. Polyamory? Who cares…let them deal with figuring out group taxes.

i don’t know that 100% of couples who get married feel that marriage is “sacred”. but if it’s sacred for religious reasons, seems like separation of church and state should keep the government from butting into marriage.


What I think is interesting is that so many people have so many different definitions for marriage. Social institution butts heads with sacred vow which seems incompatible with personal declaration of love. Or maybe it’s all these at once. Which makes it pretty hard to know what to do with it in the legal arena. Kinda like abortion (sorry, don’t mean to start anything there). Everyone’s arguing from disparate camps, with Patrick seeming religious, Jason and Betsy seeming legal, and Melanie (I think) coming at it from a love perspective. But it would be nice if we could KNOW what it IS before deciding what to do with it.

Oh, and what about “The Trouble with Normal“–what would that text have to say? I’ve forgotten the argument.


Well, hell, justin’s cartoon just made almost the same point. Except much, much funnier. (and what a sordid history for marriage)



The Trouble with Normal” tells us that the “institution” of marriage is inherently discriminatory because it rewards “particular” types of relationships over others. As Warner points out, “Marriage sanctifies some couples at the expense of others”….which is why heterosexuals wish to limit it to “their” team. He says, “Stand outside it for a second and you see the implication: if you don’t have it, you and your relations are less worthy.”

For many years, lgbt activists resisted marriage because of its implications for the many other forms of relationships within the community of sexual minorities. As someone noted earlier, polyamory is another type of relationship often seen in the lgbt community and is, for obvious reason, inconsistent with the current push for “equal rights” by lgbt activists. You can’t claim you are for only equal rights if you want to change the “two people” format of marriage. So the lgbt activists fighting for marriage have turned away from these alternative lifestyles hoping to water-down the community as being “just like straight people.”

Which is why Warner would say, “We don’t want your stinking institution.” While we would like the option and would like to be treated equally, as a community, we should not participate in a governmental attempt to control our relationships (which is essentially what the politicization of marriage has done – given “the man” control).

For me it’s a straight-up Consitutional issue. Regardless of whether or not you think marriage is a valid or worthy institution, if it is available to heterosexuals, it should be available to homosexuals. I’m glad to see you thinking about all this Justin. They are wedding in Portland now too….. I wait to see if it snowballs.


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