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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 10, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 06
Ask Michael: Genesis of the marriage movement
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Ask Michael: Genesis of the marriage movement

by Michael Raitt - SGN Contributing Writer

You've heard the news; we are at the edge of historic social reform formalized by the legal recognition of marriage for Gay and Lesbian partners in Washington state. The community has arrived at this place through the tireless work of many for many years. The legal recognition and the rights afforded through law are very important from many practical perspectives. However, let us not lose sight of the genesis of the movement for legalized marriage: love.

Love is a core, hard-wired emotion that humans experience. It is the fundamental building block that creates bonds in all societies. It is so important that it begins, for the majority of people, in the very early stages of life. Under healthy circumstances, the love bond between a mother and baby is natural and unbreakable. Love creates connection in many other configurations: parents and children, siblings, friends, love of country, romantic love between adults, and love of God. Love forms families, families underlie community, and communities make a strong nation. For eons, lovers, scholars, and leaders have been extolling love in song, picture, and poetry. Scientists are only now in the infancy of beginning to understand love, as its true nature has been elusive. Love is so natural that you find it in every corner of the world. There is nowhere you can go where love doesn't exist in healthy humans.

Love releases hormones that make us feel wonderful. Love decreases stress. Love makes us act in ways that promote a better society. Love is powerful.

Let me be crystal clear: Being Gay or Lesbian is NOT about sex! It is misleading and completely wrong to minimize it as a 'sexual orientation.' Being Lesbian or Gay is really an emotional orientation. Any Gay man or Lesbian woman will tell you that they are Gay because they have the capacity to experience romantic love toward another of the same gender. This love bond - romantic love - is as strong as any romantic love experienced and lived out by our peers who, as we know, marry! This is a fact. No man passionately in love with a woman is going to describe his experience any differently than how I would describe the romantic passionate love I've felt for another man. Just because certain people don't understand this doesn't mean it can be denied or made about something else.

Marriage is a ceremony acknowledging romantic love. All cultures have ceremonies that punctuate important values and stages of life within their community. In our society, romantic love between adults is revered and we celebrate this romantic love through marriage. Marriage brings families and neighbors together. This togetherness strengthens community ties.

I don't know of one parent of sound mind and heart who doesn't dream that their child will one day experience true romantic love. I don't know of one child who doesn't look forward to being loved when they become an adult. I don't know of one dear friend or close brother or sister who isn't ecstatic for one they care about being in love. Families and friends rejoice and celebrate love between people in their community. I don't know of one religion or philosophy that says love is wrong! In support of legal marriage, it's time we remember what we are really supporting: love, families, and community.

Those who rally against marriage for Gay men and Lesbian women pathologize the act of sex and use that, almost solely, as their argument against marriage for us. They cannot reasonably argue against love because what they use to pathologize us with - religion - is built upon principles of love, family, and community. How can you be an advocate of love and families while pushing to destroy families and communities by splintering them with hatred? They are denying love. Love has never destroyed one single family or community. Hatred has!

There is no denying that Gay men and Lesbian women will benefit in practical ways from the legal recognition that 'marriage' will provide. I thank everyone, from all political sides, who have put their name behind legalizing marriage for Lesbian women and Gay men. Please remember that what you are doing is much bigger than legal rights. You are recognizing us in the values that are important to our families and communities. You are cementing bonds and strengthening families in your understanding, acknowledgment, and acceptance that we as Gay and Lesbian men and women are much more than an act of sex. We are loving people looking to be in love and be loved by a significant other, our parents and siblings, and our community.

Michael Raitt, M.A., LMHC, is a therapist and a contributing writer to SGN. If you would like to comment on this column, ask a question you'd like him to write about, or suggest another topic of interest, please contact him at askingmichael@comcast.net.

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