[Mb-civic] As Marriage Role Models, Straight Folks Need Work LATimes

Michael Butler michael at michaelbutler.com
Tue Sep 14 11:31:35 PDT 2004



As Marriage Role Models, Straight Folks Need Work
 By Michael Gross
 Michael Gross is an actor. His roles include that of the father on the
television series "Family Ties."

 September 14, 2004

 Affixed to our refrigerator door is a photo of my wife and several of her
friends: five attractive, intelligent suburban women, some professionals,
some housewives, many of them friends for more than 20 years. Among the many
things they have in common is the fact that their marriages were all put to
the torch by husbands who once publicly avowed to stand by their spouses
until death did them part.

 One of the husbands decided that his marriage and family interfered with
his time at the gym. Another went searching for a "new and improved" woman,
while another had already found one. One nurtured his personality disorder
like a hothouse flower, and ‹ my personal favorite ‹ one walked out on his
toddler and pregnant wife during Christmas week. Oh, tidings of comfort and

 Unfortunately, stories like these are all too common, even in good, solid,
conservative communities like my own. But in our zeal to defend the
institution of marriage, I can't help wondering if a constitutional ban on
gay marriage may just be shifting the blame.

 I admit that blame-shifting does have its rewards. Nothing could be more
satisfying than to think that gay men and lesbians ‹ not we ‹ are
responsible for the shameful rate of failed marriages in this country. If,
as the Rev. Jerry Falwell claimed, they were indirectly responsible for the
attacks of 9/11, they might be capable of anything! How very gratifying to
conclude that my adversary is the embodiment of evil, while I am the
embodiment of good.

 But the first casualty of shifting the blame is often common sense: the
rapist blaming his crime on the immodest dress of his victim; a defense
lawyer assigning his client's murder spree to a Twinkies diet; or a Talib
concluding that his obsession with a woman's bare ankle is best addressed by
blowing up a pair of 1,500-year-old Buddhas.

 If the conservatives are right and we've become a society of whining
victims ‹ fighting for a spot on "Oprah" and blaming others for our troubles
‹ then let's stop rebuking homosexuals for the sad state of conjugal bliss
and pass some laws that really make a difference.

 How about a constitutional amendment to deny marriage to any couple that
did not take a mandatory, government-sponsored prenuptial class? Or denying
divorce to any couple that did not submit to a minimum of six months of
twice-weekly marriage counseling sessions? Sterilization for any
heterosexual man who abandons his children? A tax deduction for joining
Promise Keepers?

 I understand the moral outrage of those who invoke the biblical injunctions
against homosexuality, but if we're not going to observe its equally
no-nonsense penalties for adultery (i.e., stoning to death), maybe the
fairest thing to do would be to leave the homosexuals to themselves while we
put our own houses in order. I can't imagine they'd botch the job any more
than some of us have.

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