No, you will not marry here
While France is widely debating the possibility of using the term « Parent 1 – Parent 2 »; while France is seeking to normalize same-sex parenthood, and France, homeland of human rights, is opening even wider the gates of freedom, in Lebanon, we are still debating about the possibility of civil marriage., Various members of the numerous clergies would prefer not to tackle the subject at all; in fact, they are opposing it, because it goes against their religious principles. Of course, but most importantly, because it isn’t in their financial interest. Let us not be fooled: : how would they fill their pockets if we do not turn to them to get married? If we are not forced to pay the Archbishop and other bishops? If we are not obliged to pay for each candle that we light, or for renting the church hallway for the wedding reception? Niet. No to civil marriage. Keep going to Cyprus, Greece, France. But do not come here. We will recognize your marriage, but you will not sign it here.
Once again, civil liberties are violated, along with our most fundamental rights. First and foremost, the right to choose. To choose how one becomes united with the other. The right to refrain from listening to ridiculous speeches and guilt-instilling sermons about the bounds of matrimony. The right to separate without having to face all kinds of humiliation. The right to divorce with dignity. Without having to go to religious courts, whose members await thrilling revelations. Because religious communities have this terrible right to regulate personal status. They have their say on marriage, divorce, the custody of children, and inheritance.
But what do they know about marriage? And divorce? Perched inside their ivory (and gold) towers, what do they know about conflicts, pain, silence, sundering, regrets and remorse?
How can they know about the suffering of children, and that of their parents? About shared custody? About the first time a little boy goes to spend the weekend at his dad’s? About the disbelief in his eyes?
Sitting in a room that reeks of dampness, they look at you with disdain. They judge and evaluate you. They ask you why you want to leave each other. Your reasons do not convince them. Your solitude, lack of dialogue, the different paths you took, the gradual fading of your love… all of that does not suit them. These are unacceptable “psychological excuses”. They need things to be sordid. Violence, adultery. They need them to be obscene. Otherwise, why divorce? Why don’t you stay in a marriage that became rotten as time passed and that spoiled everything else? The balance of children, that of your home. They provoke you into arguments with one another. They are unhappy if you have reached a mutual, amicable decision. You need to divorce because of a mistake. They are unhappy if your separation is more successful than your union. If you reached an agreement on alimony, on custody. If you still respect each other. If you stay united as a family, despite a piece of paper signed between two people. Because they make you wait and languish. And if you offer a few thousand dollars, they will understand that maybe things cannot continue this way.
It is not surprising if today, they are objecting the proposal made by the Minister of Interior, Raya El-Hassan; refusing to secularize the bonds of matrimony; refusing to abandon their privileges, their virtual Primae Noctis right, their fancy cars and luxury houses. They hide behind religion. Their religion. The religion that is supposed to unite and gather. Their religious beliefs lead to separation. They consider those who oppose them as outcasts from society. They feel offended that we even thought to tackle this subject.
We will have to wait a long time before one can legally and peacefully live their love for someone from the same sex, or have a child without getting married. Before a woman can have a child on her own. Thankfully, there are women who are outraged. Women who are paving the way. Women who are fighting. And they will continue doing so, until this foul-smelling, damp room finally closes its doors.