Must a Right be used to be appreciated?

Have encountered some odd criticism of late: we must not have really wanted the right to get married or it doesn’t really mean all that much to us since we’ve postponed it for whatever reasons.

Here is my reply:
1) I also wanted the right to smoke mota, but because I now have that right doesn’t mean I’m hitting the first joint I can.

2) The right is a civil-rights issue, an evolution of society and a clarification of what it means to be upstanding, tax-paying citizens not beholden to others’ religious scruples or disapprobation of us as humans “created equal.”

3) But getting married is more than an issue of rights — it’s an matter of celebration and wanting to “do it right.” We *will* get married, but we’d like to pair that with other events (like a party and honey-moon), which make us feel like having the right is more than just legal recognition. It is as spiritual & emotional to us as it is to those who deny our spirituality and basic human characteristics of emotion related to love and loving.

4) After nearly 27 years, getting married for us would be like a renewal of our relationship, altering it significantly in the eyes of the law, but giving us the opportunity to retro-step, like going back and experiencing the prom you had missed in high school.

With the right to marry, why should we feel any more pressure or obligation to avail ourselves and enjoy the right than heterosexuals do? Why must we run out and make a political show of gratitude to society for recognizing us as humans and tax-paying citizens?

Judging our appreciation and enjoyment of the right to marry is not solely expressed in availing ourselves of marriage. We can appreciate and rejoice either way, and be grateful that we don’t live in Uganda.

There are two topics here: 1) pressure, 2) ritual in concession to pressure.


My reply is not a response to the pressures heterosexuals have been experiencing since forever: the pressure to get married, settle down, have kids, etc. I have felt that – in fact I got married (to a woman). But that pressure to get married isn’t the same as the pressure to get married because “now you can.” While that pressure might be real, it’s not the motivation for my reply, which was intellectual counterpoint.

Intellectual response is not a visceral response to “pressure.” It is just that: intellectual. My reply is an argument in a “discussion” for which my fellow discussants are unaware of the presumptions they hold. I love the people I’m discussing this with. And I’m more concerned with their logic and assumptions that I am at any pressure their logic and presumptions might represent. I would not get married to please anyone buy my fiancé.

Are the arguments one makes a vein in society’s way of thinking as it tries to assimilate the new reality, and is responding to its efforts responding to its demands to conform (pressure)? That’s an interesting thought. But even if one were to argue that intellectual impulse to reply to what I perceive to be a faulty assertion (at me) is still a capitulation to a type of pressure, I would reply that one has overgeneralized pressure to include everything.

I can see a correlation to the notion of pressure; but correlation is not the same as actual causation, so I can’t in all honesty say whether the idea about societal pressures is relevant.

About experiencing a prom you didn’t have is absolutely not the same thing as “standing in a window ~ looking but not experiencing,” as one discussant put it. My point is that getting married for us after 27 years of de-facto “marriage” is an emotional one: we are going to TAKE the opportunity to USE a wedding as a celebration of our ALREADY union, which is a rational decision toward an emotional end. (Placing emotion & logic in opposition instead of harmony is not a perspective I hold any longer.)

I can see a point though: one might presume that we couldn’t enjoy it because we were “looking but not participating” because it was forbidden us. I get that, although that isn’t what’s on my mind. I am thinking more along the lines of two people who were there but were with other people, disconnected by having made other choices, rather than having been forbidden.

But it was forbidden. Yet that isn’t that part that’s in focus here. The focus is on the ceremony, the ritual; not trying to fill in some long-yearned for gap in our experience. It’s looking forward, not looking back by creating the present in a way reminiscent of something else for the joy it represents to us and our friends/family.


I believe in rituals — strongly. Rituals can hinder or help progression of development; they can also give structure to the intangible – such as spiritual joy. A ritual for marriage can do that for us as well as the heterosexuals.

I practice a ritual every morning when I take a shower — a ritual of cleansing and healing with the energy and form of water. I practice a ritual when I light a candle and even one when I snuff the flame. I practice a ritual when I commune with the ocean from the shore. I practice a ritual when I make coffee in the morning and set my dog up for his continued sleepy-time.

Because a ritual looks like society’s on the surface does not mean we’re doing it with the same mindset, perspective, or mentality. Tears are a single physical manifestation of a range of emotion along a continuum of happiness and sadness; ecstasy and pain. The manifestation has to be understood in context otherwise, it all looks the same.

I care about meaning and how we create it for ourselves. What it looks like to the outside world is the surface — and assertions from within the larger society that it’s a sham or a knock-off of their beliefs are irrelevant to us.

However, there is something that does matter. Almost 27 years of being non-legally “married” possesses celebratable traits of togetherness, working through highs and lows together, planning and living together in concert toward shared ends and shared interests. These things we share with humanity as a whole. What we want is to have that recognized for what it is. If we use a ritual that looks “heterosexual” and that connects the dots for the detractors, that’s incidental.

Fabricating a ritual in the likeness of what the heterosexuals share is a convention that we decide has the form enough to represent celebration and union. I agree that a “structured” or formulaic celebration is, on its surface, hollow; but under its surface is where the actual celebration is occurring — for us.

The emotion to participate in a like ritual is not exaggerated now that we can participate.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: