July 5, 2013

What can Gay Marriages Teach Straight Couples?

Gay MarriageGay Marriage has been much in the news, especially since the election rejecting the Minnesota Constitutional amendment, which would have defined marriage as being between a man and a woman.

This spring, the legislature passed a law allowing gay marriage, and now the U.S. Supreme Court holding that the federal “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) is unconstitutional. My church has been working to prepare for the increase in weddings we expect to begin August 1, 2013 when the new Minnesota law goes into effect.

Of all the news coverage and commentary, the most thoughtful piece I’ve read is the cover story in the June 2013 Atlantic Monthly, The Gay Guide to Wedded Bliss.

The article begins:
“Research finds that same-sex unions are happier than heterosexual marriages. What can gay and lesbian couples teach straight ones about living in harmony?”

Many opponents have argued that gay marriage will adversely affect marriage. In this article Gary Gates, a demographer with the Williams Institute–a research center affiliated with the UCLA School of Law says, “The notion that this group can somehow fundamentally change the institution of marriage—I find it difficult to wrap my head around.” All collaborative divorce lawyers that I’ve discussed this with agree that we have not seen a single divorce in which gay marriage or gay unions were named as a negative influence on the couple’s marriage.

The Atlantic article asks:

“What if same-sex marriage does change marriage, but primarily for the better? For one thing, there is reason to think that, rather than making marriage more fragile, the boom of publicity around same-sex weddings could awaken among heterosexuals a new interest in the institution, at least for a time. But the larger change might be this: by providing a new model of how two people can live together equitably, same-sex marriage could help haul matrimony more fully into the 21st century. Although marriage is in many ways fairer and more pleasurable for both men and women than it once was, it hasn’t entirely thrown off old notions and habits. As a result, many men and women enter into it burdened with assumptions and stereotypes that create stress and resentment. Others, confronted with these increasingly anachronistic expectations—expectations at odds with the economic and practical realities of their own lives—don’t enter into it at all.”

I may write another blog about more of the fascinating ideas in this article, but I really encourage you to read it in its entirety.

Mary Antonia WilmesABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mary Antonia Wilmes

Mary Antonia Wilmes’ career has been centered on families. She has been an attorney handling family law cases since 1985, has mediated family cases since 1993, and has handled collaborative cases since 2003. She is the mother of two and grandmother of six. Both Mary’s family and her clients continue to teach her how to best serve family members’ needs. Learn more about Collaborative Law also known as Collaborative Practice or Collaborative Divorce at our MN Institute website and at our international organization’s website.

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One Response to What can Gay Marriages Teach Straight Couples?

  1. Ron Ousky says:

    Great article, Mary.

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