A long time ago when my children were school age, I formed half of a business partnership. Business is the appropriate word. We were very busy. My partner and I had a husband apiece, eleven children between us, and work coming from every direction. One evening after putting the youngest to bed, I left the eldest child (daughter, aged 17) to baby sit and went to do some work with my partner, which is what said daughter told the person who phoned for me: “Sorry, she can’t come to the phone. She’s at her partner’s house.” Daughter was quite old enough to be tickled by the silence at the other end of the phone, followed by: “Will she be home tonight?”
The pressure for doing away with the distinction of “marriage” comes, oddly enough, at a time when gay couples want to be recognized as “married.” The wonder is that gay people care about getting “married” when heterosexuals have done so much to de-value it and render it a sort of non-entity.
Indeed, one wonders whether gay couples, having achieved the status of “married,” will subsequently refuse, like everyone else, to refer to their “spouses” at all (whether husband or wife) and simply refer to their “partners.” Either way, the source of the problem isn’t gay couples. It’s the mess heterosexuals have already made of what used to be called “marriage.”
God works in mysterious ways. It would be an interesting development if the pressure for gay marriage caused people to think more seriously again about what marriage really is and about what distinguishes those who are “married” partners from those who are just “partners.”
If there’s really no difference, then why are some people trying so hard to gain the distinction of “married”? What do they understand, albeit perhaps only implicitly, that many of the rest of society seems determined to forget?
Is it that an undefined “partnership” is not a thing at all? We seem to suffer from the illusion that we can define our relationships the way we think we can define ourselves: according to our will and whim. The reality, however, is that you can’t get the benefits of commitment without commitment.