When we were in our twenties, we toyed with the idea of being married someday, nurturing a baby that became a toddler who took our breath away and then incessantly arguing with a teen who took our car away.
Then when marriage didn’t happen and we were well past the age of childbirth, we didn’t feel a tinge of regret at all. The truth was we were secretly ecstatic that marriage somehow missed us. Something else happened. When we hit our mid-30 thirties, we wanted only true friendships – friendships that were durable. It was the kind that endured because no commitment was involved, implicit or explicit. It is what we would call a comfortable friendship – the kind you’d compare to a warm cup of cocoa on a cold winter morning.
There we were in our mid-30’s wishing only one kind of friendship: with someone gay.
Not that we are gay. That would be emotionally devastating for our dear, conservative, prudish mother. We’re 100% heterosexual - we still admire men, ogle at them discreetly and openly flirt with them in safe doses. But our secret desire was to have a gay person as a friend – forever.
For one special reason: we realized that many gay men demonstrated a degree of sensitivity that your typical macho macho man did not have. Gay men have a depth of feeling that women easily identify with. Their feminine side endears them to us. Their personalities turn them into interesting conversationalists because they’re not only well-versed in hockey, the Mercedez-Benz 450 or the latest DeWalt cordless power drill, but can whip up gems of wisdom about the arts and humanities and of course…relationships. They were people we sought whenever we could because we felt that they read our mind and de-coded our emotions with ease and natural grace.
That’s not all. We’re convinced they possess many other qualities that make them a rare commodity. There’s just one problem. We, women can’t have them close by 24/7. They’re committed to their real-life partners.
Gay Marriages: Brief Background
In the early 90s gay people started becoming vocal about the possibility of legalizing gay marriages. A lawsuit in Hawaii turned the country’s attention to the possibility of introducing same-sex marriages in the legislature. Despite this development, many states passed laws anyway against same-sex marriages, but when they did, Americans continued to keep an open mind about the issue. The younger groups were more receptive than their older counterparts. A handful of churches began to conduct same sex ceremonies and then by a stroke of luck, the legal system started to exhibit more tolerance.
The state of Vermont, for example, ordered legal parity for gay and straight unions; the response was the growth of “civil unions” for gay people. Some countries in Europe have done the same, and in 2001 the Netherlands adopted a gay marriage law.
Happily today, gay marriages have managed to obtain an ounce of recognition and are no longer considered weird or bizarre.
More miracles occurred around 2003. Across the border, specifically in Ontario, a Canadian tribunal ordered the province of Ontario to recognize same-sex marriages. In spite of lawsuits and heated arguments and desperate attempts by conservatives, gay marriages were slowly gaining ground. The state of Massachusetts began issuing legal licences to homosexuals. Although none of the states officially recognize same sex marriages, Vermont and Massachusetts could pave the way for other states to take steps in that direction. Already, we’re seeing same sex couples flocking to Canada to get married ever since an appeals court decision ruled that Canada’s ban on gay marriages was unconstitutional.
Gay Marriages - Statistics Say it All!
According to one web site, the following countries recognize gay marriages:
Netherlands – 2001
Belgium – 2003
Canada – 2005
Countries that recognize “registered partnerships”:
Denmark - 1989
Norway – 1993
Greenland – 1994
Sweden – 1995
Iceland – 1996
Countries with domestic partnerships laws:
France – 1999
Germany – 2001
Portugal - 2001
And these countries extend some recognition to domestic partnerships but have limited legal protection:
Focusing on the United States only:
So far as we know, only the state of Vermont has civil union laws.
States with domestic partnership laws: California, Hawaii, New York, District of Columbia
States with pending legal matters: Massachusetts, Hawaii, Indiana, New Jersey
Other facts worth mentioning: the only state that will perform a same-sex wedding is Massachusetts. Americans from other states may travel to Massachusetts to get married but they must check their local laws first to make sure that their Massachusetts marriage will be recognized in their state. A Notice of Intent to Marry must be filed in Massachusetts and couples have to wait three days. If you’re an American living in a state where there is a ban on gay marriages, the state of Massachusetts will not issue a marriage licence to you.
There are to-date 19 states that ban gay marriages: Alaska, Nevada, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Nebraska, Missouri, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama.
Same sex couples enjoy all or some state rights and benefits with respect to marriage in Vermont, California, New Jersey, District of Columbia and Connecticut. In Hawaii and Maine, however, domestic partnership laws may provide for some but not all benefits.
Focusing on Canada:
Gay people who are thinking of getting married in Canada but are non-residents must check first if their country will recognize their Canadian marriage. Only a few countries will recognize a Canadian marriage.
Couples wishing to marry in Canada must present themselves in the provincial jurisdiction of their chosen area. Fortunately there are no residency requirements to be wed in Canada. All that couples need are proof of age and a photo ID. The minimum age requirement in Canada is 18; 17 for British Columbia. No waiting period is required, but the couple needs two witnesses. They do not have to be family members or friends. A Canadian marriage license costs about $100.00.
Gay marriages were legalized in Ontario and British Columbia in 2003. Quebec, the Yukon , Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador followed suit in 2004, and New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories in 2005.
Ontario set a precedent in 2004 when an appeals court ruled that the Divorce Act was discriminatory, ruling that it should be amended so that gay couples can divorce.
Gay Marriages: Let’s be Fair
Gay marriage statistics speak for themselves. They also mirror the changing mind set of people with respect to the ideals of a community. Before gay people asserted their rights, homosexuality and gay marriages were viewed with disdain.
Thank goodness for everyone, we’ve learned to adjust.
Our parents may have fought tooth and nail to vehemently question the logic of homosexuality and would have been horrified at the prospect of legalizing gay marriages. Their children, however, don’t necessarily share their position. We don’t. We’re all for it – simply because people who are gay don’t make them any less human. They deserve full rights and recognition – like heterosexuals do.
If we learn to accept that homosexuals need not remain inside the closet, that doesn’t equate to negating the viability of heterosexual marriage. We are all for marriage – heterosexual or homosexual. And by accepting both, we’re opening our minds and stretching our imagination to numerous possibilities. We’re also being tolerant and charitable in our thoughts.
A closed mind is, after all, a dangerous thing.
It is sufficient to look back to the 1960s when love was the fashionable word that was bandied about. All we need is love, love conquers all, love will keep us together, make love not war. Our everyday relationships reeked of love, our conversations spoke of it ad nauseam.
Ironically, the 60s also saw the upward trend of divorce. Love was riding high, but marriage rates were low and came tumbling down.
The human race is a funny crop of earthlings.
Jonathan Rauch wrote a book on Gay Marriage in 2004. What struck us most were not the arguments in favor of gay marriages or the dissenting voices but what he said in his conclusion. It was similar to a dawning of an era – remember the Age of Aquarius?
“The first generation to be fully at home with same sex marriage will not be today’s adults or even today’s children but the newborns who open their eyes in a world where gay couples can wed. Not all of them will grow up believing that homosexuality is moral or that it is as good as heterosexuality, but most of them will come to believe that marriage is better than non-marriage, for heterosexuals and homosexuals alike…”
For those who are single and marriage is out of the question, we’d have to insist that a gay friend is good to the last bite. And we mean nothing kinky in that statement at all…