Meatless. Matrimony. And a Cheeseburger Tour.

I stumbled across this Vegetarian/Vegan Receptions FAQ today. Useful if you want to marry without the meat.

I’ve had my own dalliances with vegetarianism (apparently this is now written veg*an, to include vegetarians and vegans both), none of which has every really truly approached a complete absence of meat or other animal-products.

My friend Simon came to visit us on PEI about a decade ago and we conducted a “cheeseburger tour of Prince County.” Much meat was consumed. Simon went home and kicked meat entirely and became an animal rights lawyer.

I mostly don’t eat meat because I don’t like meat, not for any overriding ethical or moral issues with meat or the meat industry (not that I don’t have those issues, they’re just not enough to trump meat-eating when it’s convenient). And of course I’ve been living with a scion of a cattle farming family for 13 years, so to reject meat entirely would be to reject too much family heritage.

As a result, I find myself equally repulsed and compelled by Anthony Bourdain’s adventures eating the heads of baby squirrels et al.

Speaking of baby squirrels, let me make a brief comment on marriage.

This New Yorker article is the most well-worded summary of the debate about marriage that is simmering in America right now. The article concludes:

The mistake is to consider the change in meaning [of marriage] particularly drastic. After all, undoing customary expectations for how a husband and wife behave toward each other has been one of the goals of the women’s movement since its inception. Rather than an abrupt departure, same-sex marriage is the culmination of a larger and ultimately more consequential change in the nature of marital relations between men and women.
Which is one of the reasons that the opposition to it is so fierce. It has come to symbolize what is, historically speaking, radical about contemporary marriage: the decline of the patriarchal legal structure and the rise of the goal of self-fulfillment. Gay marriage is unsettling, to many, not because it departs from modern meanings of matrimony but because it embodies them.

Catherine and I are, in a way that’s occasionally defiant and generally otherwise benign, not married. We have lived under the same roof for almost 13 years. We have spawned a son. We love each other. We can interchange pillows comfortably and even sometimes toothbrushes (although the toothbrush thing may be asymmetric). Catherine has a complex explanation for why we’re not married, which is based on a more shaded understanding of gender studies than I have; my reasoning has been more focused on why we would marry, not why we wouldn’t. I’ve never found a compelling reason to do so, and faced with a partner who’s decidedly against the idea, we have arrived at a situation which has so far worked quite well.

In light of the article in The New Yorker, I read that it is we who are the dangerous ones: we’ve simply decided not to join the club (as opposed to trying to change the club’s rules). By demonstrating that this is possible, works well, and doesn’t cause us to go to hell, I would argue that we’re a greater threat to the traditional view of marriage than two men or two women who want to do essentially as their parents did.

When it comes time to go to the barricades to stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians who want to live in loose hurdy-gurdy partnerships without social or civil sanction, I’m ready to go.

That said, although I’m perhaps not fully qualified to speak on the issue — I’m not a member of the club to which membership is sought, after all — I think those who would stand in the way of two people — any two people — who want to join each other in holy matrimony because it offers them some spiritual or civic comfort should just get out of the way. Love is good and grand and worthy of our nurture and support no matter what wrapping lovers wish to put around themselves.


oliver's picture
oliver on September 15, 2004 - 02:33 Permalink

doesn’t cause us to go to hell” — well isn’t that the question precisely? I think Jerry Falwell would find your conclusion at least premature.

Ken's picture
Ken on September 15, 2004 - 03:05 Permalink

Marriage has two advantages: religious and legal. Marriage gives legal standing in ownership, insurance, and immigration. The same sex immigrant who lives with her Canadian partner is not entitled to apply for a work visa, or to naturalize as a citizen. She can’t get dental coverage on the family plan, etc. Her relationship merits none of the legal advantages given if it was directed towards a Canadian man. Is this fair?

I think when corporations are given rights of a person, and foreign ownership of corporations is possible, that this is a shame. Now I wonder…can a person marry a corporation?

Ken's picture
Ken on September 15, 2004 - 03:14 Permalink

Corporations are meatless people.