Heterosexual couples are waiting longer to get married, while same-sex couples, finally free to do so (at least in Minnesota), are lining up to say their vows.
For years, opponents of same-sex marriage have argued that it would undermine all marriage — and in fact, the federal law banning recognition of such marriages was titled the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.
But now the U.S. Supreme Court has found DOMA unconstitutional in states that allow same-sex marriage, and at midnight last night, Minnesota became one of those states. So if same-sex marriage indeed affects all marriage, we may be about to find out how.
Some voices suggest that the influence will be a positive one. Writing in The Atlantic, journalist Liza Mundy predicted that same-sex marriages would help provide an example for other marriages to follow.
"But what if the critics are correct, just not in the way they suppose? What if same-sex marriage does change marriage, but primarily for the better?" she asked. "For one thing, there is reason to think that, rather than making marriage more fragile, the boom of publicity around same-sex weddings could awaken among heterosexuals a new interest in the institution, at least for a time. But the larger change might be this: by providing a new model of how two people can live together equitably, same-sex marriage could help haul matrimony more fully into the 21st century."
Among the questions that might be affected, she said, is the division of household jobs.
"Although gays and lesbians cannot solve all that ails marriage, they seem to be working certain things out in ways straight couples might do well to emulate, chief among them a back-to-the-drawing-board approach to divvying up marital duties," Mundy wrote. "A growing body of scholarship on household division of labor shows that in many ways, same-sex couples do it better."
Mundy and other close observers of marriage join The Daily Circuit on the first day of Minnesota's new marriage law to talk about what lies ahead.
LEARN MORE ABOUT VIEWS OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE:
Why Gay Marriage Will Win, and Sexual Freedom Will Lose
Few people much under the age of sixty see a compelling reason that straights should marry and gays should not. For that matter, my Republican grandfather is rumored to have said, at the age of 86, "I think gays should marry! We'll see how much they like it, though." At this point, it's just a matter of time. In some sense, the sexual revolution is over . . . and the forces of bourgeois repression have won. That's right, I said it: this is a landmark victory for the forces of staid, bourgeois sexual morality. Once gays can marry, they'll be expected to marry. And to buy sensible, boring cars that are good for car seats. I believe we're witnessing the high water mark for "People should be able to do whatever they want, and it's none of my business." You thought the fifties were conformist? Wait until all those fabulous "confirmed bachelors" and maiden schoolteachers are expected to ditch their cute little one-bedrooms and join the rest of America in whining about crab grass, HOA restrictions, and the outrageous fees that schools want to charge for overnight soccer trips. (Megan McArdle, The Daily Beast)
• How Will Same-Sex 'Marriage' Change Our Culture?
So, if sexual fidelity becomes less central to the meaning of marriage — as should be the case when even "open" gay unions are considered legitimate marriages — then I reason that it's only a matter of time before that mentality diffuses into the mass of marrying couples, and men assert their interest in marital "monogamish" behavior while women wrestle with what they can accommodate. To be sure, plenty of women will not agree to it, and so the ranks of unmarried women will continue to swell. (Mark Regnerus, National Catholic Register)