The Binary Nature of Marriage: The Point of Two

“Certainly our decision today marks a significant change in the definition of marriage as it has been inherited from the common law, and understood by many societies for centuries.” (Goodridge, et al vs. the Department of Public Health, pg 11)

With these weighty words, a simple majority of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ripped marriage from its historical, cultural and common law foundation and reconstructed it as “an evolving paradigm.” In simple terms, marriage in Massachusetts is now whatever a majority of judges say it is, with no foundation other than their sense of the direction the cultural wind is blowing.

As I read the decision and noted the court’s reasoning, I wondered what other redefinitions might be on the horizon. The court opined that the state of Massachusetts deprived gays and lesbians access to marriage because of a single trait – their sexual orientation. This deprivation is now considered unfair because the court holds as reasonable the analogy to skin color. Laws forbidding the intermarriage of races are unconstitutional, and the court reasoned, so should laws forbidding gays and lesbians from marrying each other. Clearly, the court has accepted the spurious idea that being gay or lesbian is a given such as is the color of one’s skin.

But what of the “other” sexual orientation? Gays and lesbians who wish to marry were bolstered by the redefinition of marriage to include “two spouses” rather than “a man and woman.” Where are bisexuals in this orgy of fairness? Bisexuals are attracted to both sexes so if they are torn between two lovers, even after the work of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is done, they still will have to choose. Using the logic of the court, is this proper?

The Massachusetts court makes a great deal of the fact that the gay and lesbian plaintiffs seeking same sex marriage did not “attack the binary nature of marriage…” This is another way of saying that those bringing the suit did not seek to redefine marriage from two people making a pact to three or more people making such an agreement. The plaintiffs attacked the male-female nature of marriage but not marriage as a union of two. Not yet, at least. Bisexuals who wish to gratify both attractions in one relationship may be next looking for a day in court.

While we are all reflecting on such things, it is worth asking, where did the binary nature of marriage come from? In other words, why is “two” important?

Two comes from two genders, male and female. From the beginning, it has been so. Now that this foundation has been deconstructed as unnecessary, does the binary nature of marriage that the Massachusetts court was so proud of preserving matter that much? If husband and wife are not sacred and worth preserving, then why is “two” sacred? Why not three or four? Hello, allow me to introduce the Smiths: Bob, Carol, Ted, and Alice and their 6 children.

There are those who will read this and hear impishness or even sarcasm in this essay. Not so. I am serious. If marriage can be defined by judicial fiat based on an often-transient set of personal preferences then what else will be changed to address fairness for other human whims?

Torn between two lovers? Give the courts time and maybe they can torture the binary nature of marriage into history along with husband and wife.