Relationships and how to maneuver through one successfully, are a subject in which I have great interest. I failed at one, and haven't had a chance to have another, but I'm constantly looking for articles and information, so I'm prepared for one in case one just happens to pop up unexpectedly.

A Gay Opinion 3/23/01
By R.A. Melos

Once again, the narrow-minded people of our society are rearing up in an effort to quash the horror they see as, brace yourself, "Same-Sex Marriage." People in the good state of Vermont, home of the same-sex civil union, are attempting to pass a bill denying same-sex couples the right to marry.

Okay, I know you've heard it all before, we all have, but until the ignorant masses of society get it through their thick heads, emotional commitment between two people, regardless of their sex, whether sanctioned by the government, the church, or Jerry Springer, is the basis of any union, making marriage a state of mind, no matter what you call it, I'm going to harp on it.

Bill Clinton, the now former President of the United State, while doing many good things for the gay community, did one really bad thing for over all society when he played the semantics game in his lie to cover his "relationship" with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. It is the same type of game now being played by lower level government officials in states throughout the country in an attempt to ban gay marriage.

Of course all this comes back to man's inhumanity toward man, but that is something we have lived with since the dawn of time. We have to face simple facts. The human race, as long as more than one person exists on the face of the planet, will always disagree. One person or group will always attempt to control another, and in spite of anyone's best intentions, we will never get beyond this phase until all groups are considered equal.

Okay, I know I'm asking for the impossible, but I'm asking for it anyway. It never hurts to ask people to be understanding of one another. Oh, I know, it rarely works, but this time I have ammunition in the form of a recent study on the dynamics and differences in relationships between same-sex and opposite sex couples conducted by psychologists John Gottman of the University of Washington and Robert Levenson of the University of California at Berkeley.

Okay, for you none scientific minded among us, pretend you're reading a gossip magazine article and this is a quiz on how you relate to your chosen life companion. Now you don't have to be gay to take this little quiz, since anyone in a relationship may take it. My only criteria is honesty, with yourself.

This study, which observed how each couple navigated the rougher waters of their relationship, concluded same-sex couples were more affectionate and used more humor in negotiating the rapids of their relationships. Same-sex couples are more positive in their criticism of one another, are more sensitive about equality issues and power struggles in a relationship, are less whining, domineering, and belligerent toward one another in an argument, less negative and defensive, than couples consisting of opposite sex partners.

Of interesting note is same-sex couples have fewer binding links tying them together. There are no marriage licenses, less family pressure, and in many cases no children, yet they fight harder to preserve their relationships than opposite sex couples with all of the ties that bind. Opposite sex couples have more of a tendency to ignore difficulties, to live a lie or pretend everything is all right, even when they see the white waters swirling around them.

Now, from my personal observations of same-sex relationship, I have seen more tenderness toward one another, more humor in dealing with potentially boat rocking issues, and more commitment to the idea of being together as a couple, than I've observed from all of my straight divorced friends.

Now I admit no relationship is perfect, and all relationships need work to maintain their dynamics. I saw a couple willingly throw away their relationship, almost hell-bent on its destruction, and I witnessed a man toss aside the possibility of being loved for who he was, instead of what he could provide by way of material objects for the person he ultimately chose as his partner. I've been hurt by my own inability to properly communicate my love for a partner, when it was most needed, because I just didn't know the right words to say to set things right.

Now for the quiz:

1: Are you in a relationship? Yes No
2: Are you sure? Yes No
3: Does your partner think they are in a relationship? Yes No
4: Do you respect yourself? Yes No
5: Do you respect your partner? Yes No
6: Do you talk to your partner about your feelings? Yes No
7: Does your partner talk to you about their feelings? Yes No
8: Have you lied to your partner about anything ever? Yes No
9: Do you trust your partner? Yes No
10: What do you want from your relationship? (an essay question)

Now, take this quiz, and have your partner take this quiz. Then exchange answers with your partner and sit down and talk things out. I know, if I had gotten my ex-partner to talk, given him the room to talk, listened to him, and showed him I loved him, we might actually be partners today.

So whether it is called marriage, civil union, or living together, the commitment to a relationship is obviously a state of mind. If you feel committed to your partner, it won't matter whether you've got a scrap of metal on your finger and a license in your safety deposit box, but if you don't feel a sense of commitment, rest assured your legally bound partner will take everything you own in an attempt to hurt you back for the pain you cause them.

If it weren't for lawyers, and their ability to take even the most precious union and reduce it to a material value, committing to one another would be much easier, in my opinion. Of course I can't blame everything on lawyers. Ignorant members of society who would do anything to hurt those who don't think as they do can tear apart even the strongest of relationship, so I know from experience weaker minded relationships never really stand a chance.

It's a shame, because in the end, the ones who are denying themselves the chance to have the relationship they really wanted, all out of a desire to be accepted by an unfeeling society which would then find some other reason to ostracize them, are the ones who lose out on the wonderful feeling of standing up to society, sticking their tongues out, and letting society know they are going to make it work because they are more important to each other than the opinions of strangers are to them.

Information for this opinion was taken from an article written by Peter Freiberg appearing in the Washington Blade.



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