When it comes to admitting the true agenda of the gay rights movement, The Advocate can be refreshingly honest. “We often protest when homophobes insist that same sex marriage will change marriage for straight people too,” says the magazine in a recent article. “But in some ways, they’re right. Here’s how gay relationships will change the institution—but for the better.” (Note: The article contains some crude language)
Anti-equality right-wingers have long insisted that allowing gays to marry will destroy the sanctity of “traditional marriage,” and, of course, the logical, liberal party-line response has long been “No, it won’t.” But what if—for once—the sanctimonious crazies are right? Could the gay male tradition of open relationships actually alter marriage as we know it? And would that be such a bad thing? With divorce rates at an all-time high and news reports full of famous marriages crumbling at the hand of flagrant infidelities (see: Schwarzenegger, Arnold), perhaps now is the perfect time for the gays to conduct a little marriage makeover.
Welcome to Queer (Roving) Eye for the Monogamous Straight Couple Lie, brought to you in part by writer Dan Savage, who coined the term monogamish to signify committed relationships in which the partners are, he explains, “mostly monogamous, but there’s a little allowance for the reality of desire for others and a variety of experiences and adventure and possibility.”
The typical response by straight same-sex marriage supporters is that while such “monogmish” relationships may be common, their committed gay friends would never dream of engaging in such infidelity. Or so they may think:
Even many gay male couples, who Savage describes as having “perfected nonmonogamy,” fear disclosing that their relationship is anything but one-on-one. Gary (not his real name) is out in every area of his life, and his family is completely supportive. “But I don’t tell my family, even my brother—who I’m incredibly close with—that I have sex outside of the relationship with Ben,” his partner of 14 years, he says. “I have never said that to him.”
Gary and Ben, who live in Los Angeles, won’t reveal their real names because Ben has a high-profile career in television. “We have too much to lose,” Gary says. “But we also don’t want people passing judgment on us.” Which is why they don’t even tell most of their friends.
Sex therapist Timaree Schmit says she can understand gay couples’ desire to conform—at least outwardly—to the kind of conventional relationship that society deems “deserving” of marriage rights. “It’s been a big part of campaigning for marriage equality to repeatedly prove the ‘normalcy’ and stability of same-sex couples. People may feel pressure to make their relationship fit into a more acceptable box.”
If only heterosexual society wasn’t so prudish and didn’t defined “normalcy” so narrowly, then gay men could truly be themselves:
Schmit says that the sexual context in which many gay men initiate relationships can smooth the way to normalizing nonmonogamy, and that’s not frequently how straight relationships kick off. “Plus, the steam room clause,” she says, referring to the one among some men in which sex at the gym does not count, “doesn’t really apply too well to straight people.”
Yes, that’s true. I have a strict rule that when my wife goes to the gym she is not allowed to have sex with strangers. I’m a bit old-fashioned that way. But perhaps I can be talked into letting go of my heteronormative hangups about monogamy in marriage:
This is where gay male couples and Savage’s outspoken role come in. “More than anything, gay marriage creates opportunities to broaden the conversation about marriage,” says Sitron. “I don’t think gay men are [necessarily] going to bring something [new] to marriage, but they are going to change the conversation about marriage.”
“I really enjoy sex, and I like looking at porn, and I like sexy guys, and I love Ben,” declares the happily committed and nonmonogamous Gary. “When [it became clear that] we could figure out a way to have all of these things together, without hurting each other, I thought, That’s a good goal.” [emphasis in original]
“A way to have all of these things together.” Sure, why not? Why shouldn’t they be able to have a marriage license that includes a steam room clause? If that is the “good goal”—the gay man’s eudemonic objective—then who are we to say that they shouldn’t have it all—even if if the “all” includes porn, a partner, and polyamorous playmates?
We’ve finally reached the point in the debate where it is no longer possible to be self-deluding about what same-sex marriage advocacy requires: If you support same-sex marriage you are tacitly endorsing non-monogamous marital relationships.
For years, heterosexual supporters of the cause were able to fool themselves into thinking that what gay rights activists wanted was parity with straight relationships. Then, when it became obvious that many homosexuals reject the “heteronormative restriction” of monogamy in marriage, the advocates proposed a two-track compromise: straight marriage would still be expected to be monogamous while gay marriage could be as polyamorous as they wanted.
But it doesn’t work that way.
There cannot be a “separate but equal” basis for “marital” relationships, with heterosexuals expected to adhere to a standard of sexual fidelity while gay couples are allowed to redefine monogamy to include polyamourous sexual escapades. The lower standard will eventually prevail, with the stricter “sex with spouse only” being a valid option, but not an ideal—and certainly not the norm. A significant percentage of heterosexual men will follow the example of their gay brethren and simply refuse to “marry” if it comes with an expectation of sexual exclusivity. After all, why shouldn’t they have the same marriage rights as gay men?
Since women have the most to lose from such arrangements, they may prefer to retain the one-man/one-woman rule. But it doesn’t matter what they want. In every struggle for expansion of man-made rights, some people win and some people lose. Straight women will simply have to accept the loss for the greater good of normalizing homosexual conduct and preferences. It’s probably best that they just keep quiet about their homophobic concerns.