The day President Obama announced his belief in same-sex marriage, I participated in a Twitter chat called #WhyGetMarried. The discussion was hosted by Chris ‘Kazi’ Rolle and featured relationship editor and family life coach, Charreah Jackson and was a jumping off point for their upcoming panel Why Get Married: The Challenges, The Benefits & Happily Ever After. The week before, I joined a discussion hosted by relationship editor and marriage blogger, Charli Penn. Whether marriage was a necessity or an option came up. While some folks were fighting for the right to be married, others were trying to convince people it was an institution they should believe in.
Then there was the email from the Obama administration that included the following statement:
I’ve always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally. I was reluctant to use the term marriage because of the very powerful traditions it evokes. And I thought civil union laws that conferred legal rights upon gay and lesbian couples were a solution.
The language struck me. Is marriage about the “powerful traditions,” or is it about “legal rights?” Where does love fit in? We all know that marriage rates are on the decline in the U.S. The rates have been on the decline in other Western countries for years, in some ways you can say that the states are just catching up to the trend. We know that divorce rates are high.
So, what is the purpose of marriage?