In De-Lovely, the new film about songwriter Cole Porter?s life, Porter tells his wife, Linda, about his homosexuality. Linda, who is the inspiration behind his genius, tells him that his music comes from his talent not from his destructive behavior. But she does beg Porter to give up his scandalous behavior so as ?not to put us at jeopardy,? a promise Porter isn?t prepared to make.
The prospect of a marriage where children, permanence, and fidelity are in doubt is supposed to make us pity Linda Porter, even if she was complicit in her own plight. After all, who would opt for such an arrangement? Well, according to one scholar, many Americans have. And understanding how and why this is the case is crucial to understanding the push for same-sex ?marriages.?
According to Bryce Christensen of Southern Utah University, homosexuals don?t want marriage, at least not marriage as understood for most of the past two millennia. They want what ?marriage has become? as a result of cultural changes and bad policy choices.
Historically speaking, marriage was an institution ?defined by religious doctrine, moral tradition, home-centered commitments to child rearing, and gender complementarity . . . ? Today, it is a ?highly individualistic and egalitarian institution.? Marriage no longer ?[implies] commitment to home, to Church, to childbearing, to traditional gender duties, or even (permanently) to spouse,? so writes Christensen.
Traditionally, the ?husband-wife bond? was defined by ?mutual sacrifice and cooperative labor.? But that has been replaced by ?dual-careerist vistas of self-fulfillment and consumer satisfaction.?
According to Christensen, no one should be surprised that homosexuals want ?the strange new thing marriage has become.? After all, ?contemporary marriage . . . certifies a certain legitimacy in the mainstream of American culture.? In addition, it ?delivers tax, insurance, life-style, and governmental benefits.?
And, best of all, from the homosexual?s perspective, it does all of these things ?without imposing any of the obligations of traditional marriage.? If childbearing, sexual fidelity, and permanence are no longer central to our culture?s understanding of marriage, but the benefits are the same, why not agitate for marriage?
Christensen says that it would be a mockery to issue marriage license to couples who, by definition, ?can never have children,? ?will not resist the temptations to extramarital affairs, and will not preserve their union for a lifetime.?