Guest Post by Sheila Chukwulozie
3 year olds have a really hard time sharing anything…even time. I have a cousin who calls “6:12” am/pm his. I also remember my 3-year-old self: I loved the beach.
At the beach, someone would always build a sand castle. However, when I asked to join, they would often say no if they were with others. At this point, my street cred is obviously hurt so I bring out all my snaps and say “Fine, I’ll start my sandcastle somewhere else and it will be bigger and better than yours.” Basically, by 3, we are all taught about rebelling against the superstructure (literally) one way or the other. This means that we must have learnt that our rebellious sandcastles hardly ever become bigger than the older ones with more supporting hands.
“It looks like the institution of marriage is a superstructure sandcastle that leaves no room for gay people who want to help build the sandcastle we all have our hands on.”
Like all other anecdotes comparing women’s bodies to sweets or life’s suffering to a cloud of gas, a sandcastle story is hardly representative of the big issue here. Indeed, maybe my sin was that I did not have a genius IQ with super fast hands that could design the perfect structure with half the time and labour. But this does not matter because with marriage, love is often unintelligent…especially for a marriage like gay marriage. In an economist world where we assume all beings are rational thinking beings, why would we assume that people just love to randomly give up everything they have to fight for their right to marriage?
Economists and social scientists like Mancur Olson have gone far lengths to explain that the politics of rebellion or activism as such is illogical. I guess it is, because an illogical fight makes sense for an illogical cause like love.
Just last year, I often wondered why gay couples would want to marry in a church. Like me in the beach, I wondered why they wouldn’t just create their own certification. With the high rates of divorce, why would anyone would want to be married anyway? especially if you fight so hard to get it, only to get divorced within five years.
But the problem was that I forgot that my sandcastle was just never tall enough or strong enough because on the other team, they had built rules that improved their existence while I was left uncatered for.
In a world where people often use hate as the reason to hate others, I cannot understand why love should pose a threat. As romantically convincing as a love story should be, rules on who you should love do not only affect the ceremony to celebrate undying love, but also social services and political privileges that you deny each gay couple who cannot live and love together as heterosexuals can. Well, the life of gay families, the feelings of gay couples and the rights of gay individuals are not even supposed to be considered, left to many Nigerian citizens. Amongst the comments about the President’s ban on gay marriage, a lot of them asked why the president would even concern himself with such a matter.
Well if the state will not separate its social provisions from a religious sanctity, gay marriage will always matter to same-sex couples…
…Evan Wolfson in “Why Marriage Matters” gives a few reasons we should all consider.
1. Death: If a couple is not married and one partner dies, the other partner is not entitled to bereavement leave from work, to file wrongful death claims, or to automatically inherit a shared home, assets, or personal items in the absence of a will.
2. Debts: Unmarried partners do not generally have responsibility for each other’s debt.
3. Divorce: Unmarried couples do not have access to the courts, structure, or guidelines in times of break-up, including rules for how to handle shared property, child support, and alimony, or protecting the weaker party and kids.
4. Family leave: Laws do often not cover unmarried couples and policies that permit people to take medical leave to care for a sick spouse or for the kids.
5. Health: Unlike spouses, unmarried partners are usually not considered next of kin for the purposes of hospital visitation and emergency medical decisions.
6. Housing: Denied marriage, couples of lesser means are not recognized and thus can be denied or disfavoured in their applications for public housing.
7. Immigration: U.S. residency and family unification are not available to an unmarried partner from another country.
8. Inheritance: Unmarried surviving partners do not automatically inherit property should their loved one die without a will, nor do they get legal protection for inheritance rights such as elective share or bypassing the hassles and expenses of probate court.
9. Insurance: Unmarried partners can’t always sign up for joint home and auto insurance. In addition, many employers don’t cover domestic partners or their biological or non-biological children in their health insurance plans.
10. Portability: Unlike marriages, which are honoured in all states and countries, domestic partnerships and other alternative mechanisms only exist in a few states and countries, are not given any legal acknowledgment in most, and leave families without the clarity and security of knowing what their legal status and rights will be.
10. Parenting: Unmarried couples are denied the automatic right to joint parenting, joint adoption, joint foster care, and visitation for non-biological parents. In addition, the children of unmarried couples are denied the guarantee of child support and an automatic legal relationship to both parents, and are sometimes sent a wrongheaded but real negative message about their own status and family.
11. Privilege: Unmarried couples are not protected against having to testify against each other in judicial proceedings, and are also usually denied the coverage in crime victims counselling and protection programs afforded married couples.
12. Property: Unmarried couples are excluded from special rules that permit married couples to buy and own property together under favourable terms, rules that protect married couples in their shared homes and rules regarding the distribution of the property in the event of death or divorce.
13. Taxes: Unmarried couples cannot file joint tax returns and are excluded from tax benefits and claims specific to marriage. In addition, they are denied the right to transfer property to one another and pool the family’s resources without adverse tax consequences.
This post is not one to explain scientific discoveries or challenge religious misinterpretations; its aim is to show you all what you deny a human being when you label his/her sexual orientation taboo. So, Nigerians, and fellow Africans, I understand that you have been building your sandcastles for so long, but understand that the God most of you call on once said
“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:20).
Using your normative privilege to deny women and men the ability to live their lives together as your parents did, and you dream of doing is a weapon of hate. I urge you to rethink your stance on the lives of many. As I will continue to say, the Pharisees crucified Jesus as a terrorist, and now he is your saviour. Don’t become a new form of your worst enemy.
What do you think of this topic?