I want to believe in marriage. The romantic side of me really wants to believe that two people can just be married and stay married forever. However, from a statistical standpoint, marriage as a social institution doesn’t seem to make much sense.
At Wes Thinks Big this past December, Associate Professor of Government Elvin Lim presented a pretty convincing argument for the abolition of marriage. When I first heard the suggestion, I objected on a purely emotional level; however, by the end of his speech, the idea didn’t seem too outrageous. Why do we need to put a title on our romantic relationships in order to make them important? I am sure that there is a certain comfort level that comes from the notion that you will be with one person for the rest of your life. But even marriage does not come with that sort of guarantee. According to the Americans for Divorce Reform, an organization that promotes stricter divorce legislation, approximately 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. I can’t help but wonder if this is simply a result of humans trying to accomplish something that nature did not intend for us. There are only a few species in the entire animal kingdom that mate for life, and maybe the humans just aren’t among of them.
I am not saying that people should not pursue long-term relationships. I am saying that people should be allowed to pursue relationships with whomever they want, and with however many people they want, without having to seek government recognition for them. I see no reason why our government should have the right to rule on the significance of our relationships. Shouldn’t a family unit deserve family benefits regardless of whether the parents are married or not? Shouldn’t you be able to visit your significant other in the hospital even if you aren’t legally committed to each other? I think so.
I understand that many religions encourage marriage, and I believe that those who want to be married under religious auspices should have every right to do so. I don’t even think that we have to do away with marriages all together. If people feel that they need to use the title of a marriage in order to push themselves to work at maintaining their relationships, that is fine. We can even continue to throw wedding-style parties to celebrate people’s love, because, let’s face it: weddings are a lot of fun. I am just advocating a little more separation between church and state. When our country was first established based on Christian values, it made sense to offer certain privileges for a Christian institution. However, times have changed, as Professor Lim explained when he spoke of the impending legalization of same-sex marriage. It is time that we establish legislation that fits a more modern lifestyle, which means granting rights to those who involve themselves in more modern types of relationships. There are many couples that reject the notion of traditional marriage, and even monogamy, and still maintain very committed relationships, and I believe that they deserve the same legal benefits as those who choose the more customary route.
Every person has the right to choose whether or not to partake in a traditional marriage, and no one, especially not our government, has the right to tell them that their relationships are any less worthy than those of people who marry. As Valentine’s Day approaches and people begin to assess their various relationships and romances, I just want to say that all relationships can be incredibly special to those who take part in them, no matter how long they last, what form they take, or how many people are involved.