Love has many definitions and attributes; associated concepts and terminology. When I speak of the equality of love it is important to take into account the different concepts. An equality implies a comparison can be applied. To compare different concepts is nonsensical. So to speak of, for example, the equality between sacred love and maternal love makes no sense.
In order to properly compare two examples of love they must be categorized similarly and the category I wish to constrain this post to is the romantic love between human couples. But even given this constraint can we compare two examples of such a love for the purposes of determining equality?
The best we can do as an objective outside observer is assess the love based on the outward expressions, or actions, that manifest and whatever thoughts and feelings the pair is willing to honestly share. But short of abhorrent indications, it is a poor substitute as there are any number of reasons why a deep romantic love may not manifest in a number of meaningful actions while words may belie the strength of the couples thoughts and feelings. There is too much variability between the given depth of such a love and the expressions that manifest. The depth of love between two partners is not for humankind to calculate. It entails an infinitely complex calculus dependent on a complete understanding of each partner’s mind and soul.
Which brings us to marriage equality and LGBTQ+ rights. When a heterosexual couple and an LGBTQ+ couple both say they love each other enough to provide a lifelong commitment to each other who are we to say if one love is different or greater than the other? Can we peer inside their hearts to calculate the depth of the love they have for one another?
No we cannot.
And so the love that is shared between both couples must be recognized by society as equal. The only question that remains for LGBTQ+ marriage is whether a commitment to their enduring love is the purpose of marriage? There are certainly alternatives. An often cited, less emotional, purpose for marriage is the creation of an exclusive and permanent commitment between two persons. In other words a binding legal agreement. Certainly this is one component of marriage and arguably the component that our legal institutions are most interested in. And by this standard there would be nothing that would preclude LGBTQ+ marriages. But I still question whether it is true purpose of marriage.
Religious doctrine sometimes cites procreation as the reason for marriage. But I do not believe this to be the case. As I stated earlier, love trumps life itself. Creating new life, procreation, is not why we marry, less infertile couples be restricted from the institution. Procreation is just one of the many expressions of the true purpose of marriage.
To speak of marriage without speaking of love is to miss its true purpose. I believe that The Greatest Love is most concerned about whether a couple has established the roots of their relationship in love before formalizing that relationship in marriage. Then for that couple to provide an equal commitment to each other before friends, family, and their god, if any. A commitment not just to share a lifetime together, but that during that lifetime they will make the continuous, concerted, and often times difficult effort to grow their love. A love that can become deep and powerful and which helps bind the greater social fabric together. Marriage exists to provide a sanctuary in which love can flourish.
Yes such a purpose does not lend itself to legislation or regulation that must accompany the institution in a civil society. But I am not proposing amending any laws. Instead I only argue for what I believe in my heart. That for The Greatest Love, love is the bedrock for any marriage, and both partners must commit equally, over each of their lifetimes, to their love for one another.
Returning to LGBTQ+ marriage, nothing in the above understanding precludes the union of same-sex couples. Quite the opposite. Love is not limited to heterosexual couples, nor should marriage be. Still opponents of same-sex marriage often ask whether the recognition of LGBTQ+ marriage can lead to unions between any persons in general? Does it give credence to the slippery slope argument that the institution of marriage is somehow being diluted with the acceptance of LGBTQ+ marriage? That the eventual outcome will be the recognition of polygamy or child marriages, for example?
The legal purpose of marriage has evolved over time to reflect society’s ever changing values. So do I fear a day when the institution of marriage somehow embraces the aberrations of love that are polygamy and child marriages, based on the ever evolving opinions of the masses? No I do not. Because I believe the inclusion of LGBTQ+ marriage into the legal definition of marriage points to a very different path that humanity is rightfully taking. It points to a path based on the equality of commitment. The formation of equal partnerships rooted in love. Yes the word “love” may never enter our laws regulating marriage. But love will, I believe, always be the fundamental consideration of The Greatest Love in blessing any union.
Partners to marriage must have an understanding of marriage that is mature enough, and loving enough that they are both able to freely make an equal and lifelong commitment to each other and which does no demonstrable harm to society. Polygamy and child marriages do not meet that standard. LGBTQ+ marriages do.
Polygamy occurs when one man’s love is shared amongst multiple women while at the same time requiring the full love and attention of each of those women in return. Their commitment to each other is unequal as is their love. It is misogynistic and it is an aberration of love.
A child marriage is a manipulative relationship where the adult’s emotional experience is wielded as a weapon against the child. It is not the coming together of two equals in love. How can it be? A sufficient understanding of love requires an emotional maturity that a child cannot possibly possess. It is not just an aberration of love, it is preying on the innocent and must rightfully be condemned by all loving societies.
The above two aberrant relationships can never reflect an equal commitment to love. I believe that over time their acceptance will decline and slowly fade away as fundamental rights for women and children become more widely recognized. However LGBTQ+ relationships can represent such an equal commitment, and thus should be afforded the same rights and privileges as heterosexual couples. And I believe in my heart that my god, The Greatest Love, based on everything I believe Them to be, blesses such unions as equal to any other loving couples.
Finally I’ll end this post with the words of President Barack Obama speaking on the United States Supreme Court’s decision for marriage equality. His statement that “love is love” made me ponder the possibilities, and inspired this post. I believe there are many definitions and concepts to human love, many of which have not yet been explored. But when one type of love can be as deep as another of the same type and does no harm to society, then I believe they should be treated equally under the law. There is no heterosexual romantic love or homosexual romantic love. There is only the love that is shared between loving couples. Given that context love is truly love.