I have been musing for a while about why some conservatives are so vehemently opposed to marriage equality. I recognize that for many of them the objections are based upon their religious convictions. However at least some of these people have accepted in other areas of life that what they would not do because of their convictions others are legally allowed to do. One may believe that drinking alcohol is wrong without trying to reestablish prohibition. So why is marriage equality such a problem for them?
I think, and I certainly could be wrong about this, that for many of these folks their opposition has roots in patriarchy. Marriage has for most of its history been the union of unequal partners. Why, until recently, was the proper way to address a letter to a married woman "Mrs. John Smith"? It was a vestige of patriarchy. Marriage equality is an assault upon patriarchy. Although I would make no claim that there is perfect equality in all same-sex marriages, I suspect that there is an unacknowledged fear among some who cling to patriarchy that marriage equality will challenge the inequality of their marriages. If two men can establish a marriage of equals, then why shouldn't opposite sex couples do that? And if two women can show us that a marriage doesn't actually need a man, what happens to the idea that the husband is always the head of the household? (Actually, most of the married women that I know think that idea is a joke.)
I am convinced that marriage equality is a gift to all of us, even to those who oppose it so vehemently. It can teach us about equality in relationships and begin to free us from thinking that culturally created gender roles are permanent. It can do that only if we let it shed much needed light upon marriage as we have understood it.