... gay or otherwise.
I don't mean cohabitation, of course: the fragrant familiar head on the neighboring pillow, the near-telepathy of a glance exchanged, the shared child-breeding and child-herding, should you be that way inclined.
Nor do I mean the marriage rites: the priestly stole around the wrists, the vows, the ceremonial kiss, the raunchy humor of the toasts. The honeymoon, bless it.
What I mean is marriage as a legal institution -- a thing in which the state inexplicably has an interest.
What is that about? I'm sure it's been written of. But for those of us who think old Dr Karl was on the right track -- that the State is just an emanation of class relations -- what are we to make of this bizarrely elaborated institution, with its special body of law, its rigid protocols as to the gender and number, if not tense and aspect, of people who can be married? Why on earth were the Mormons so persecuted for polygamy? What good does all this folderol do for the capitalists? Isn't it quite simply all cost?
The institution has a long history, of course. In antiquity it seems to have mediated or articulated alliances among clans. In the early Middle Ages, among the common folk, it seems to have been little regarded; even the Church took hardly any notice. Then the custom arose of having marriages blessed at the church door; later the ceremony moved into the church itself; and finally you get the top-heavy legal apparatus of marriage, divorce, annulment and so on, for everybody from king to stableboy, enforced at first by the Church as a kind of state franchise, and now directly by the state itself, with the unspeakable horrors of divorce court and something called, with grim humor, Family Court, at least in this high-minded blue state.
Cui bono? Who exactly benefits from all this superstructure? I'm baffled.