Same-sex marriage: the fight over who gets to use the word “marriage”.

Same-sex marriage: the fight over who gets to use the word “marriage”. By Grace Collier.

For so many people, getting married is what grown-ups do. So it is perfectly understandable, isn’t it, that gay and lesbian people want to be seen as grown-ups too.

Same-sex couples want legal recognition of their relationship and equality of treatment by the state. But mainly, surely, they desire the broad social acceptance that will follow. They want to be in the lovely married people club, too, and can you blame them? The club has many benefits, but there is one that means everything: marriage allows people the ability to introduce themselves to others by saying hello, my name is such and such, and please allow me to introduce my darling husband, or my treasured wife.

From all the available evidence it seems that most opponents of same-sex marriage don’t oppose the legal recognition of same-sex relationships, on some sort of government register.

What they object to is the idea of gay and lesbian people being able to say they are married. This fight is over one word: marriage. It is over the right to use it and to bask in the inclusion it brings, the societal acceptance it confers.

There are two different meanings, squabbling for the use of the word “marriage”. If marriage is about fulfillment and equality, of course gays should be allowed to “marry.” But if marriage is about reproduction, then gay marriage is absurd and slightly pernicious (because it weakens and cheapens traditional marriage, which is hard enough as it is). Framing is all.

Life has been pretty easy in the West for the last hundred years, so standards required in tougher times are being jettisoned in the search for more fun. But life will turn tough again soon enough.