Stranger in a strange land, part 1

Same sex marriage

Posted on Wednesday 20 January 2010 at 10:38 am in category: USA
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Stars and Stripes

It is now 5 and a half years ago that I first set foot on American soil, on July 4th 2004. After that things went kind of fast, and since September of 2006 I am officially a resident of the United States. You would think that after all that time I wouldn't really feel like a stranger anymore, and most of the time I don't. But still there are certain things that I will never get used to. For somebody that grew up in The Netherlands, the US can be a strange place to live. And I'm not talking about the fact that there are 12 McDonalds restaurants within a 10 mile radius of my house, or the fact that some stores here are open 24/7, but more about the way people think.

Something that strikes me as odd for example, is the same-sex marriage issue in The States. The Netherlands, as always being very liberal, made it possible for gay people to get married on April 1st, 2001. And I'm not talking about some fake marriage, but a full blown marriage, with the right to adopt kids. In the USA, it was illegal to be gay for the longest time, until Illinois was the first state to abandon those laws in 1961, but then it took until 1969 for Connecticut to follow, and most other states didn't follow until somewhere in the 1970's.

Anyway, to get to the point, to me it seems really strange that there are numerous states in which you can get married to a first cousin, but only about 7 or 8 where gay people can get married. The map below, taken from The New York Times, shows it:

Same-sex marriage map

Surprisingly, in West-Virginia marriage between cousins is not allowed.

The anti-same-sex marriage movement is big and powerful in the US, and they have tons of arguments against it. Most of these arguments stem from religious grounds. People from The Netherlands that read this, should probably be aware of the fact that even the most liberal states in the US would be marked 'bible belt' by Dutch standards. Seriously, the so called 'bible belt' in The Netherlands is probably more progressive then downtown San Francisco.

On of the most heard arguments is that same-sex marriage would somehow pull down the value of a marriage. Although divorce statistics say otherwise, Americans say that they value a marriage really high. The argument of course is bogus, because I don't see why somebodies marriage could devaluate someone elses, but apparently not everybody follows that logic.

I've found out that even discussing the subject makes a lot of Americans feel really uncomfortable, and I know I'm probably going to end up getting some negative comments on this one. Most Dutch people though live by the general rule that anybody can do whatever he or she wants as long as it doesn't hurt anybody else. I'm happily married, and not gay (thought I'd point that out here), and I love my family, and that is not going to change because other people that love each other (and happen to be gay) are being allowed to get married. Please drop your rants and raves in the comments.

By the way, Albert Einstein was married to his first cousin.