Sacred Hypocrisy: The Vocabulary of Traditional Marriage

Denizens of Orange County couldn’t escape the barrage of yellow lawn signs that littered the landscape these past few weeks, demanding a yes vote on Proposition 8. Beneath the picture of a happy stick-figure family was the simple tagline, “Protect marriage.” It’s as if the “Yes on 8” camp wanted voters to envision themselves galloping to the rescue of Maiden Marriage, imprisoned in the castle of the godless sodomites—creatures of no morals, content in ravishing the modern family in between bouts of drug abuse and deviant sex.
An overzealous description, perhaps, but the “Yes on 8” movement succeeded largely due to illustrative rhetoric that glazed over the holes in their logic. “Traditional marriage” and “sacred institution” were the most potent mudslingers in their vocabulary, indirectly insulting homosexuals by giving heterosexuals way too much credit. After all, according to them they are not against gay people—they are just for traditional marriage.
There is no such thing as a “traditional marriage,” like there is no such thing as a “traditional family.” The blanket term of the right way to marry could, and does, include: a beaten wife staying with her husband out of fear, a couple who won their marriage as a prize on a reality show and a drunken mistake in Las Vegas. It’s acceptable as long as the two people are of the opposite gender. The term is astoundingly outdated; not only was it used verbatim when interracial marriage was attempting to “destroy the foundation of society,” but “traditional marriage” comes from the nonexistent roots of the nuclear family of 1950s America.
The idea of “traditional marriage” back then meant a housewife and a factory-drone husband. If mom went to work while dad raised the kids, it was sacrilege. True marriage, as with everything else involving humans, evolves with time, changing and reflecting shifts in societal advances and ideals. But “traditional marriage” never has to grow out of its archaic values, because it has the two magic words: “sacred institution.” That’s the knee-jerk response you’re given when those against gay marriage realize they don’t have any logic to debate with. You can’t argue with that phrase because it hides behind its haughty religious ties, like a child sticking out its tongue behind its mother’s arms. Never mind that those able to marry don’t treat it as sacred; a 60 percent divorce rate and the ability to get an annulment faster than a pizza doesn’t make a dent in their argument.
Want to know why it’s sacred? They’ll tell you. “Every study since the beginning of time …” – because cavemen were equipped with polling data – “… shows that a heterosexual couple is essential to the upbringing of sensible, moral children.”
Somehow a penis and vagina are so important after birth that they must be equally present in every strong household. There is no way to justify this argument without assigning each gender their individual roles and emotions within the household. One parent has to be comforting and sensitive, the other tough but fair. Despite both genders being able to interact with children on either side of the equation, the traditional marriage argument dictates that there is something ingrained in the DNA of men and women that make them inseparable in child-rearing. They have no answer for what it is. Science kind of requires proof, rather than hot air.
People fell for it. Despite pompous overtones and ridiculous claims, people bought it. Do they hate gays? Do they really care that much about the issue, or their religion for that matter?
Of course not—it’s all spin, the easiest trick in the book. The “Yes on 8” camp used their scripts to turn something simple into the first step on the path to anarchy. They stroked the egos of heterosexuals and their marriages in order to maintain religious dominance in a world that couldn’t give a crap. Love just isn’t a factor in marriage anymore.

Gavin Greene is a third-year film and media studies major. He can be reached at