For starters, I’m supporting traditional marriage by not getting married. I’m not in love with anyone, I’m not ready to make a lifetime commitment to anyone, and I don’t believe in divorce (except in cases of abuse). So I’m ignoring all the peer/family/societal pressure to get married despite being in my 30's.
I also encourage people to take their time, and really make sure they’re ready before they get married. To some folks, I have suggested that they sit down beforehand and talk about their expectations and the practicalities of marriage (possibly with a counselor or trusted third party).
--Are they going to merge their bank accounts? Has either one built up massive debt, or declared bankruptcy?
--Do they plan to have children? If so, do they have reasonably similar approaches to parenting?
--How will they arrange their insurance?
--Will one or both be expected to work?
--Do their respective families have expectations about the pending union?
--Who will be expected to take care of the home?
--Are their long-term dreams and life goals reasonably compatible?
--Can they argue constructively? In other words, clearing the air and purging the inevitable tension without damaging the relationship?
--Do they understand that you can train someone to clip their nails and put the seat down, but you cannot change their true character?
I do this because I proudly support traditional marriage.
Notice I didn’t say a damn thing about gay people, or putting a stop to their pursuit of wedded bliss? That’s because I don’t believe for one solitary second that “supporting traditional marriage” has anything to do with gay marriage. And the one sure as hell doesn’t endanger the other. At all. In fact, we can very easily support both because VALUES ARE NOT A ZERO SUM GAME.
And I’m really tired of folks using the phrase as anti-gay code. You have every right to not like gay marriage. Just don’t pretend that it has anything at all to do with rescuing traditional marriage from the real threats like Vegas drive-thru nuptials and the latest week-long celebrity pairing.
Have the courage to speak your beliefs. If you can’t come out and say what you believe, or if you feel you have to cover up your beliefs with lofty catchphrases, then it seems you have a problem with either your conscience or your backbone. Only you can determine which.
As for me, I support traditional marriage. And I support gay marriage. That's my conscience speaking. Don't expect an apology or a debate.
12:40 PM PT: ADDENDUM:
Thank you all for your comments and recommendations. Since so many of you commented on my statement “I don’t believe in divorce” I thought it might be best to address it here, instead of piecemeal below.
As one commenter said, it might have been better for me to say I don’t “approve” of divorce. That’s fair. It’s also pretty close to my feelings on the subject. But I still think “believe” is the closest. Why? Let’s consider a few words:
Vow. Oath. Commitment. Promise. Bond. Union.
I’ve been to a lot of weddings over the years, and never once have I heard the judge or religious official include the phrases:
--Until we grow apart.
--Until we no longer find each other attractive.
--Until one or both of us have an affair.
--Until I find out you’re bad with money.
--Until I find someone better.
--Until the honeymoon is over.
--Until I realize I made a mistake.
And yet those are common reasons that many marriages end.
You don’t have to commit to anything. But I believe that if you do commit to something, then you give your word of honor to stick it out.
While I watch so many of my friends start their second and third marriages, almost all the members of my family are still in their first marriages. Some of them have been together for 40 and 50 years. Over the years I’ve watched them care for each other in debilitating sickness, weather financial disasters, and love and accept each other for their flaws and quirks as well as their strengths.
How did they do it? When the going got tough, they stood together and made it work. Gay or straight, that’s what marriage means to me. If I can’t make that commitment, then the answer is simple: I won’t get married. To me, a commitment isn’t something you try for a bit to see if you like it.
I don't expect others to agree with me on this, and I certainly don't intend to try to hold you to my standards. This is simply what I believe, and the choice I've made in my life.
Knowing that, do I believe that if you commit and things don’t turn out well that you should be forced to stay? Of course not.
And could it happen to me someday? Of course it could. But I believe that if I go into it with the mentality that I can walk away when the going gets tough, then I fear that is precisely what I am apt to do.