On the Importance of Marriage
I was relooking at some of the pro & anti gay marriage arguments today, in light of obama’s statements. (
) Am quite surprised to see what i see as one of the most key reasons, missing in much of the debates.
In the past i often viewed marriage as symbolic, especially in today’s day and age where both parties are quite financially n socially independent, for most couples.
Then, very recently, when my partner was telling me about being posted overseas, it struck me how important a legally recognised marriage was
If i followed, i’d be consciously setting back my career and hence earning power.
If i followed without being married, and my partner was unfaithful or dumped me or anything, there’ll be no recourse for me, the way married wives have
That’s assuming i can even follow her at all, because there’s no such thing as a dependant pass for non-spouses in that Asian country so i’ll have to be able to find work there independantly, or she has to be financially able to support me.
We’re lucky that we’re in the position to do either. But there would be so many people for whom this option is not available, because they don’t meet certain educational qualifications internationally-mobile jobs look for. Even for us, we are keenly aware of how privileged we are that she has a job that enables her to get a PR here instead of a Work Permit, or else we would either have to break up at the end of her contract or I would have to take a huge pay cut working in a neighbouring country.
Traditionally, fathers made sure daughters were properly married, precisely so that the other party could not “take advantage” of their daughters. 30 years ago, when my Dad(or rather, future-Dad, at that point) told his girlfriend(now my Mom) that he’d been posted to Jakarta to work, and asked if she would go along with him. My mom replied that if he wanted her to follow him, he’ll have to marry her first. He promptly took her to ROM of course. Today, i don’t have that option, because i’m of the wrong gender, apparently.
It seems like the legal enforcement of marriage responsibilities kinda got lost, in all these talk of gender equality. But the fact remains that romantic relationships are not like business relationships — many relationships simply are not made up of financial/social equals. Sure, marriage facilitates the joint-ownership of HDB flats, getting Baby Bonuses, getting insurance benefits, getting to see your partner in ICU after an accident. Yet, in a strange, ironic sense, what really necessitates marriage as a legal institution, for both gay & straight couples is not the legal convenience it provides during marriage, but the protection it provides at the end.
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