Traditional Marriage: Granny would agree
By Rod Van Mechelen
Attitudes and the law may change, but for now there are reasons enough to say no.
Tomorrow might be different
2006 Olympia, Wash. - Tomorrow might be different. As different as it was for my great-grandmother, who was born in a time and place not far removed from polygynous marriage, when "equal marriage" had nothing to do with homosexuality and kinship could be recounted and relied upon to establish consensus and community. Such were made precious by the apocalyptic epidemics that wiped out more than 90 percent of her people.
Granny was born of a French-Cowlitz Indian father and an English-Chehalis Indian mother in a Nisqually Indian village beneath the shadow of the place upon which today stands the Washington State Capitol building, and for her tomorrow was very different. She witnessed the American empire come of age, an empire of culture, capital, consensus and, now, military conquest.
A community cannot endure without consensus. To Granny's elders, polygyny, extended families, and the taboo against inbreeding were traditional. But with the waves of settlers, consensus changed and polygyny gave way to monogamy and "close knit" (aka inbred) communities. For us, however, the extended family remains and my cousins Mike and Tim are always happy to help when I e-mail to ask if a lady is related.
Granny would be glad, I think, to know that these have endured, but she would shake her head at the thought of same-sex marriage. The irony of demanding the right to enter into a relationship that many feminists denounced aside, marriage is not the issue, as they already can marry. It is the demand for government to confer upon such unions the same legal status as heterosexual marriage. Or, as some call it, "Equal Marriage."
The rhetoric on both sides is often overblown. Equal marriage would not presage the end of the world. Other nations have survived it. But America is not like other nations. Their uniformity and rigid legal structures allow them to make even radical changes without inviting chaos. By contrast, our uniquely flexible system is constantly tested and strained by our dynamic youth and frothy diversity. The resulting flux such freedom affords invigorates our society, but too much too soon invites ruin.
For example, during the Great Depression radical legislation established a national welfare system that, in the ensuing 70 years destroyed millions of American families. Equal marriage proponents point to this devastation as evidence that traditional monogamy has failed without acknowledging its cause. To do so would be to admit that further disruption would harm more people than it would help.
I write this meaning no harm and feeling no hate. During the past few years a number of close friends have died, including one who was gay. Objections to the contrary notwithstanding, success in changing the legal definition of marriage for some will give precedent to those who wish to further redefine it to benefit themselves without regard for the harm they would cause to others.
Tomorrow might be different, but for now these are reasons enough to say no. Granny would agree.
Rod Van Mechelen
Rod Van Mechelen is the author of What Everyone Should Know about Feminist Issues: The Male-Positive Perspective (the page now includes several articles by other authors), and the publisher of The Backlash! @ Backlash.com. He is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and served for 9-1/2 years on the Cowlitz Indian Tribal Council.