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06/05/2006 - 5:01 p.m.

DEFENDING MY MARRIAGE

I’ve been married for more than 21 years. No one has to tell me that there are times when marriage is difficult. No one has to tell me that there are times and things outside that can threaten a marriage. But I also know what does not threaten my marriage: exclusive and committed relationships between any two adults.

The exclusively committed do not usually go trolling around for new and more exciting partners. Their example does not destabilize my community or make promiscuity look like a lot of fun. Their example doe not encourage my children to engage in risky behavior. Their actions are far less likely to spread diseases that could come back to haunt those I love.

Admittedly, while committed relationships are not always perfect for either the people in them or for society as a whole. I am not a big fan of abuse or of societal systems that make the abused think grinning and bearing it until maimed or dead is the only choice. My husband, who truly believes that he would have been better off if his parents had divorced earlier, has helped convince me that some divorces are better than bad marriages---even for the children.

Still, I believe that stability generally is good for society. It is not so good that we need ban the small children or the teenagers that are hard on the relationships of committed partners with children. After all, society does have some interest in continuing. But continuation is not society’s only interest and, in this day and age, more and more couples make a commitment to each other but it is a childless commitment.

And so, President Bush does not speak for me---but then he never has as far as I am aware. When FogieKnight and I were united, we had a civil ceremony because, at that time, we were of different faiths. Respect for religious laws dictated that we not put any rabbi in the position of sanctifying a union that he (or she) felt was not appropriate—or that was incorrect under religious law. I believe in civil unions like ours. I believe in full civil unions with all the duties and drawbacks and all the benefits and privileges. I believe in the societal stability that comes with recognizing and supporting all of those exclusive, committed, adult relationships, whether between Jew and Gentile, black and white, man and woman, man or man, or any other such combination you can think of. Almost every state indicates in its statutes that marriage is a civil contract and perhaps that terminology would be best.

After all, I also believe in religious freedom. Is homosexuality a sin? Perhaps (although I do not believe so), but so are other far more marriage-threatening actions like adultery and we do not go nuts in punishing those who commit them. Why not? Probably because we heterosexuals can picture themselves committing those—and if we could do them, they can’t be that bad. And so, for the same reasons I had no Jewish marriage until a marriage was possible and recognizable under Jewish law (or, in other words, until FogieKnight converted to Judaism), I have no problem with leaving a definition of marriage to the various religious groups.

We would, of course, have to change a lot of legal terminology. A spouse could still be a spouse, I suppose, although the law would no longer recognize husbands and wives. I shudder to think what terms we might substitute but I am sure we could come up with some.

But stability and rights and responsibilities should be for all. All that love and affection and monogamy could not hurt my marriage or make my children less likely to want it.

If you want to help me defend my marriage (or civil union or whatever), forget the Marriage Protection Act. Open up the goodies that have come with what we have called marriage. Spread them around more freely.

FogieKnight, my children, and I would thank you for your help as we strive to reach our 53rd anniversary—as my parents are about to do.

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