Let’s raise our glasses, or our coffee cups, to the French! Today Marriage Equality is de rigeur in this predominantly Catholic country. Legalizing same-sex unions wasn’t easy, even though the mayor of Paris is openly gay. In fact it’s the biggest shift in policy since abolishing the death penalty in 1981…I wonder if SCOTUS is listening? I am ecstatic, and hoping for a complete overhaul of the wedding industry, which could use a touch of LGBT creativity.
But it’s not just the business of getting married that may be overhauled as state after state grants gays the right to marry. A recent article in The Atlantic posits that we heteros may learn a thing or two from gay marriage.
“Same-sex spouses, who cannot divide their labor based on preexisting gender norms, must approach marriage differently than their heterosexual peers.”
Liza Mundy has gathered most of the data from around the world on the sociological complications of straight vs gay marriage. Who will pay the mortgage? Who will run the kids from school to tennis? Who cooks and who will do the laundry? There is even a study where researchers threw a bunch of toys out on the floor with a child and its parents to see how parents interact during play…sure enough, it was the hetero dads who played lincoln logs in the corner by themselves.
I was in a bank line that wasn’t moving the other day, so I struck up a conversation with the dad and a stroller directly in front of me. I told him about my Love Bug, and he told me all about the same age baby girl he was caring for, his daughter, who was happily smiling at me whenever I looked at her. By way of explanation he said she was getting fussy so he thought he’d venture out. Then he volunteered that his wife was finishing a fellowship at UVA and they were moving to Seattle in just a few weeks. I said that must be exciting, and told him about my son-in-law’s fellowship in Nashville. But he didn’t seem very excited about moving cross country, and then the line started to move and he was gone.
I didn’t ask him “What do you do,” as I know some others might have done to try and pigeonhole his motives for staying at home to care for his daughter. I could see very well what he did, he had a clean, smiling, happy baby with him. I love to see young men caring for their children, during the week, when it is obvious this is their role for now, while the wife earns the money. Religious zealots, who fear gay marriage for whatever reasons, should take heart to learn that gay men are just as likely to denote one partner to stay-at-home (“specialize”) in their marriage as heterosexual partners. According to the latest Census:
“32 percent of married heterosexual couples with children have only one parent in the labor force, compared with 33 percent of gay-male couples with children. (Lesbians also specialize, but not at such high rates, perhaps because they are so devoted to equality, or perhaps because their earnings are lower—women’s median wage is 81 percent that of men—and not working is an unaffordable luxury.)”
Maybe this fact alone should put an end to the “mommy wars?” My friend Lee was an assistant DA in MA, a high powered attorney. She found a wonderful nanny, from France in fact, and had a very supportive husband with more reasonable working hours. It never occurred to us, both feminists, that we might be at war because I chose to stay at home!
So look out all you newly married heterosexual couples. Gay marriage just may have a profound effect on our culture, in a very good way. The old playing field is getting some brand new sod, and everything you may have once thought was traditionally your duty in marriage, is up for debate. Now, Bob, about that cooking class in Italy…
Meet the first French couple – Vincent Autin, left, and his partner Bruno Boileau sign a document during their marriage in Montpellier, southern France, on May 29, 2013