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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Marriage is about mustard

You want to know why I support marriage equality? Mustard.

My husband and I met in high school and married right after I graduated from college. We’ll celebrate our 25th anniversary this summer. He supported me through grad school, then I supported him while he got his accounting degree. We’ve moved five times—two of those cross-country. We’ve owned eight cars and four motorcycles (not, thankfully, all at once). We’ve had three dogs, a cat, and a snake. We still have date nights. We have zillions of in-jokes. We share most of our iTunes playlists.

Yesterday afternoon, he went grocery shopping. I’d written him a grocery list but he forgot it, so he texted me from the store and I texted the list back. One of the items on the list was Dijon mustard. I was very specific about this. Dijon mustard. I needed it for a recipe.

So he came home and I helped him put away the groceries, and lo and behold, he’d bought honey mustard instead.

“Wrong mustard,” I said, holding up the bottle.

“No, you said honey mustard and that’s what I got.”

“I said Dijon.” I showed him the text as proof.

“Oh. I read it as honey. Well, it’s the same thing.”

“No, it’s not.”


“Not even close.”

Then the discussion devolved into the side issue of paper towels, and whether it’s worth buying the cheap kind when you end up using three times as much of them. And I made the recipe with honey mustard instead, and it’ll probably turn out okay.

But see, this is what a marriage is about.

Yes, marriages might involve kids. Today during oral arguments before SCOTUS, the attorney backing Prop. 8 said a same-sex marriage ban is justified because only straight couples can procreate. But that’s bullshit. My husband and I have kids, but we have friends and family members who don’t and never will, and their marriages are no less valuable and meaningful and real than ours. And plenty of gay couples have kids, as do single people of all sexual orientations. Kids are nice. I like ours. But we were just as married for the 11 years before the first kid was born as we’ve been in the 13 years since.

Marriage is about loving someone. It’s about making a commitment that you both intend to be life-long. It’s about saying, “This person is so important that I want to make sacrifices and compromises, that I want to give up a little of my me-ness so that I can become part of an us.” Marriage is about that great vacation you plan for months, and paying the electric bill, and arguing over whose turn it is to make dinner, and snuggling on the couch to watch the same favorite movie you’ve already watched a dozen times together. It’s about knowing you have someone at your back, finishing each other’s sentences, putting up with football every Sunday even though you hate football, renovating the bathroom, telling the same lame jokes and stories.

Marriage is about mustard.

And when you’re squabbling over condiments—and then deciding you can make do—or when you’re bitching about your boss or deciding whether it’s time to take the car in for service or providing comfort over a health crisis or doing any of the other things married couples do… what the hell difference does anyone’s gender make?


  1. What a wonderful post. Marriage is about so many things and the idea that only people who can or do have kids together should enjoy marriage is rooted in the hoary past. I had an unpleasant epiphany the day I listened to a priest denounce any marriage except those where there's promise or hope of a child. My second husband and I deeply love each other, but my body's incapable of making babies. According to that priest, we should not have married. So we didn't, at least not in that church. We had a civil marriage and are deeply pleased that our government allowed us what our church preached as against the will of God. Gender should no more be an impediment to marriage (and all the legal benefits and possible hassles thereof) than ethnicity or birth order. Or the ability to read text messages correctly. :D

    1. Thanks, Tali, for your thoughtful response! I really get angry when people try to force their narrow views of marriage and family on everyone else.

      (I do think gender may be related to the ability to read text messages correctly, however. *g*)