Friday, May 17, 2013

Voices of Faith: What gay people can teach straights about marriage

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Voices of Faith
From the Rev. Susan Brooks Thistlewaite, in an excellent article about marriage in a social and religious context:
One thing statistics show is that heterosexual marriage is on shaky ground. Current data indicate that nearly half of all (heterosexual) marriages end in divorce, though there are age, race, educational, and economic differences that are crucial. Overall, this is twice the divorce rate as in same-gender marriages or civil unions, as documented by the Williams Institute, a prestigious think tank located at UCLA, whose mission is to conduct research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy. While this data is too new to be statistically significant, it is important to keep compiling it.
Long term, we may find that divorce rates for LGBT couples climb to rates similar to those for heterosexuals, and it is important not to romanticize LGBT marriages. But currently, mining this data, along with my personal experience and my theological insight into how values perform in the public square as interpretive lenses, I have formulated this thesis: LGBT people value the institution of marriage more than some heterosexuals because they have to struggle for legal marriage recognition. As Ada María Isasi-Díaz, noted mujerista theologian, used to say, “La vida es la lucha.” Life is struggle. We tend to value that for which we must struggle. LGBT people may value the institution of marriage more than some heterosexuals as they must struggle for legal and religious recognition of their marriages...

What will it take for heterosexuals to make stronger commitments to marriage as an institution, as well as to each other? It is not that different than LGBT marriages, in truth. From the individual to the societal level, trust and commitment are absolutely central for marriages to succeed over time. Trust and commitment take struggle; that is one thing I do know after 42 years of marriage.

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