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Straight Marriage for Gay People

February 17, 2009

I’ve heard this conversation much too often:

Gay person: “Why can’t I have the right to marry?”

Other person: “You have the same right to marry as everyone else — just to someone of the opposite sex.”

And you know, I think that this kind of thought process misses the point. So, I understand, as it is now, everyone has the same rights and lack of rights — everyone has a right to marry someone of the opposite sex. No one has the right to marry someone of the same sex. But really, the problem is that people are fighting for rights to marry people they love and are in love with.

But that’s not really what this post is about. I just had to get that out there.

Really, what if the hypothetical gay person in the scenario listens to the other person and decides — “oh, what the heck. I’ll go out and do it. I’ll get married to someone of the opposite sex.”?

This has always troubled me.

I guess the situation is more delicate than it could have been because this isn’t just some radical idea. This is something that people have actually done and people do. I don’t know how common these so-called “mixed orientation marriages” are, but I do know that I’ve talked to people who are in them, read blogs about marriages that are sticking, marriages that have not, couples who both know about one partner’s homosexuality, and couples where the gay partner hides it.

The last one in particularly really bothers me…how does someone propose to go into something as big as marriage without disclosing something that big? I mean, I really don’t care if someone thinks its just an affliction or just an inclination that they can’t give in to, but the fact is that is a major part of that person. It is something that should be known before they start playing with people’s lives.

I’m glad that the church has moved to a point where they do not condone this. I’m glad that the church recognizes it “doesn’t usually solve the problem” and that people should have more respect for the women involved as well (I mean, I know this isn’t how it is, but it seems like some guys might be using these women as tools so that they can look like they are reaching some church-defined standard of righteousness — I guess the immense pressures for family and marriage from the church contribute to that some.)

But still, I’m reading blogs where people personally struggle with the issue because they want to be normal and normalized…and it’s painful. gamburgery thinks about the issue himself:

On the other hand, this [homosexuality] is still a huge problem. It’s forcing me to rethink my goals and aspirations. For example, I really want to get married, love a woman, raise a family. Problem: how to love a woman when attracted to men? I am not convinced that this is an insurmountable barrier, but a solution has yet to present itself. Can I pursue a healthy heterosexual relationship while attraction to other guys persists? I don’t know. I hope so.

It’s painful. This guy has internalized…he “knows for himself” that it’s “true” that homosexual acts are bad. So, with this attitude, it’s not like he could just pursue a relationship he is oriented too, because the religious beliefs he clings to have him bound.

I guess what matters is whow both people in the relationship react to this. I can’t find the blog, but I was reading one man’s story — he feared to tell his wife anything about his orientation because he know that if she found out, she might react very negatively. At the same time, for other couples, the relationship still stays. I just don’t know — how must it feel to know that even though your spouse loves you very much, he or she might never love you in the way that he/she loves someone else and he/she still decides to be with you over those others. I guess it’s kinda romantic on its own.

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  1. This is possibly the most disturbing aspect of the church’s former policy of encouraging straight marriage as a cure for homosexuality. It’s as though the straight spouse is a disposable person to be used as a medicine. There is no way I would consent to being my husband’s bitter pill that he has to force himself to take to prove his righteousness.

    I have one blog friend who’s in a mixed-orientation marriage, and demonstrating that it’s possible to make it work if you know what you’re in for and both partners accept that that’s the type of relationship they want. But in many cases I’ve read about, the relationship takes on a forced quality that leads to passionately bitter resentment in both directions because both want a complete relationship and neither is getting it.

    I understand that in the past homosexuality was less well-understood, so many gay people honestly believed the lie that they’d “recover” and give be able their straight spouse the same quality of relationship as a straight person could. But today, to deliberately set someone else up to spend his/her life as your medicine is an incredibly, incomprehensibly selfish thing to do, and for the straight spouse, incredibly stupid.

  2. Chris permalink

    Ironically, the church discourages facial hair and encourages beards.

  3. ^That’s the best thing I’ve heard ever, Chris. 😀

  4. Chris permalink

    I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’ll admit that I laughed out loud when I thought of it and I was worried that no one would ever see it.

  5. There are many different types of attraction, and in my case, I have a strong enough emotional attraction to my husband that I’m able to navigate the sexual non-attraction side of me fairly capably. I know that seems foreign to people who have been wildly sexually attracted to their spouses–but I’m guessing the sexual attraction for them will wane with time. Mine attraction for my husband continues to grow.

    Love is a complex issue. I married my husband because I couldn’t imagine life without him. Perhaps that seems twisted, given that I didn’t feel sexually attracted to him. But I think I made the right choice, I disclosed to him my orientation, and we have worked together to build our very strong marriage.

    Just as an aside–I didn’t marry because I felt it was my duty or because of any spiritual conviction. It was simply the selfish act of wanting to spend my life with someone who, daily, brings me joy.

  6. Thanks for the comment, Samantha. It’s good to hear a true personal story instead of just secondhand and thirdhand stuff. I’m most glad that you and your husband are making it work,

  7. There’s a support group for straight people who find their spouse is gay. The straight spouse network ( really helped me when I discovered my ex was gay. To this day he doesn’t admit it.

    I suspect that the Episcopal priest who married us knew. I can’t ask him now, because he is dead from AIDS.

    Wouldn’t wish being married to a gay man on any woman. I found that it was denigrating to my own sexuality as he found many reasons to blame me and my normal female body for the lack of sex.

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