In the wake of President Obama's support for same-sex marriage, opponents of gay marriage are mobilizing. The media has been filled with activists outlining the ways gay marriage is harmful to society. One particular danger cited is the negative impact same-sex marriage will have on "traditional" marriage. The problem with this argument is that marriage has been in trouble for years. A divorce rate that hovers near 50%, an increase in the choice of cohabitation over marriage, and the growing belief that marriage is obsolete are some of the factors that have had a tremendous impact on the institution. Common relationship issues such as money problems, failure to communicate, alcohol abuse and infidelity continue to tear apart marriages. Personally, I've struggled in my marriage, known others who have struggled, and have many friends and family members who have divorced. The reasons have never been remotely related to gay people or gay marriage.
As forces mobilized in states like California (over Prop 8) or recently in North Carolina, time, energy and millions of dollars were spent on anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives. Millions more will likely be spent in the upcoming months. Meanwhile, the heterosexual marriages these activists are alledgedly protecting continue to languish. Military marriages, for example, are facing unprecedented strain with multiple tours of duty and rampant PTSD. How many of those marriages could be helped if some of those anti-gay resources went to organizations that support military families such as Project Sanctuary, Coming Home Project or National Military Family Association?. Both military and civilian marriages could be helped by greater awareness of marriage education and counseling services and the opportunity to take advantage of such programs without undue financial hardship.
Instead of fighting against gay marriage, I wish more time and money was being spent to support the struggling institution of straight marriage.
*For a list of marriage education programs check the Smart Marriages Directory. For a list of marriage therapists check Marriage Friendly Therapists or the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy