I hear people talk about the ‘sanctity of marriage’. I hear it so often I wonder if those using it actually know what they’re saying. Has it become synonymous with marriage between one man and one woman? Is it a rally cry? A mobilizing technique to defend against evil-doers who wish to destroy the sanctity of… what?
We live in a great country. It’s far from perfect, but it’s our willingness to wrestle with our shortcomings through the process of open democracy that makes America a truly unique and fascinating place to live in. But something has happened to our discourse. Not only in the tone, but in the quality and depth. I don’t believe that our country is as divided as some in the media would like you to believe. They’re not in the business to breed unity. But it is in this 24-hour news cycle we live in that promotes the kind of shallow debate made up of talking points and harmfully loaded go-to buzz words.
New York State Senator Diane Savino alluded to this culture when she took the floor to defend marriage equality in front of the state Senate. That measure to legalize civil unions was defeated, but not before Savino struck a powerful note that should stop all of us in our tracks and lead us to question what this whole ‘sanctity of marriage’ stuff really means. She took it a step further than many others are willing to go, and that sort of gusto should be applauded. But pay attention to what she has to say, really pay attention.
Again I ask, what is the ‘sanctity of marriage’, and why is it that those who wish to protect this ‘sanctity’ are the very ones destroying it?
Our media landscape has prevented many meaningful conversations from taking place, instead opting for the theatrical and practice of winning points over your opponent. But what does it say when we watch a TV show about twenty single women competing for a man’s hand in marriage? Is that protecting the ‘sanctity of marriage’? When that relationship crumbles under the false premise it was founded on, is that protecting the ‘sanctity of marriage’?
When the percentage of marriages that fail threaten to overwhelm those that succeed, is that protecting the ‘sanctity of marriage’? When families are torn apart by divorce and other marital sins, is that protecting the ‘sanctity of marriage’?
When Glenn Beck has been married twice and Rush Limbaugh has been married three times, is that protecting the ‘sanctity of marriage’?
These are loaded terms designed simply to redirect the conversation down a path we should have seen coming but fall for time and time again. If we refuse to rise above these intellectually-challenged arguments, those who stand up for justice and reason will have done so in vein.
We do great things in this country. Every day. America is no mistake and it is not lost. But it is time we rise to the challenge and carry the burden that so many of our predecessors have asked of us.
The next time you hear someone talk about how we must, as a country, defend and protect the ‘sanctity of marriage’, ask them if their own actions reflect their rhetoric. And then ask them how the love that exists between two men or two women is any different than the love they share with their spouse.
We’re not out to destroy the ‘sanctity of marriage’. We’re out to fulfill a promise our government made to us 235 years ago that “all men are created equal.”