Denial of marriage rights

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(Host) Commentator Willem Lange has been listening to the debate about marriage. Here’s his two cents.

(Lange) I hope you’re all enjoying as much as I am the current arguments about what constitutes a marriage or a family. I don’t mean “enjoy” in the sense that I’m getting a kick out of it. In fact, some of the opinions I’ve heard expressed as fact have been pretty appalling. What I mean is that, thanks to the current state of communications technology, we’re able to experience the testimony of hundreds of people from coast to coast – more than we ever could before. And the more we hear, the more informed our own opinions become. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?

As you’ve probably heard, a greater percentage of people, both young and old, are every year choosing to live together without, as the saying goes, benefit of clergy. This is especially prevalent in Northern Europe. Many among us, surveying this trend and reflecting upon the increasing militancy among homosexuals for access to state-sanctioned marriage, are predicting the end of civilization. Each of us seems to have his own standards for normalcy. The friction between us occurs when we try to impose our standards upon others.

My own opinion is that marriage is largely oversold and virtually always misrepresented by those of us involved with it. Every parent or marriage counselor I’ve ever known has uttered ad nauseam the standard boiler plate: “Marriage isn’t all fun and games, you know. It takes a lot of hard work!” I suggest that those who say that have never done any really hard work. It’s like warning someone about to swim the English Channel, “You know, you may get a little damp.”

Then there are those of us who revere marriage as a sacred institution. That to me better describes the Stock Exchange, the Vatican, or Harvard University. Marriage is less an institution than an organism: one as delicate, diaphanous, adaptable, basic and tough as a jellyfish. There are times at which, in order to stay the course, you have to believe that it – or somebody, at least – will change. That exercise, and its results, help to develop perspective.

Which is the whole point of it. You learn to give, to compromise, to accommodate. Only people who can do that can avoid snapping in a storm. We need someone to disagree with us, to take an opposing point of view, to tell us now and then that we have a nutty idea, before we do something nutty. You need a little conflict to keep you sharp. A spouse – usually our complement in almost every way – is uniquely qualified and positioned to supply that. A lot of us need each other in order to become truly ourselves.

Why would any of us want to try to deny the right to marriage to anyone else? Like democracy, it’s not perfect; but it’s a long way ahead of whatever’s next best.

This is Willem Lange up in Etna, New Hampshire, and I gotta get back to work.

Willem Lange is a contractor, writer, and storyteller who lives in Etna, New Hampshire. He spoke from our studio in Norwich.

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