Ms. Behavior®: GPS as Marital Aid

Dear Readers:
Occasionally, Ms. Behavior learns something that she is compelled to share with her readers, even before she gets a letter asking about it. However, if there were a question leading to this response, perhaps it would be: “What are the 10 essential ingredients to a happy marriage?” While that subject is too cumbersome to address in one column, Ms. Behavior may consider a series on this topic.

Meanwhile, Ms. Behavior would like to extol the virtues of a pocket-sized marital aid that she discovered recently. Perhaps she was late to this discovery. Much to her dismay, she learned that her mother, Bubbles, had one first, though she hadn’t figured out how to work it yet. Ms. Behavior did not offer to help, because she finds life more manageable when Bubbles is trained in technical matters by her dates or her doormen.

Who in their right mind is purchasing marital aids right now?

You can light candles, pick flowers, and watch erotica for free. Live theaters practically beg you to buy seats for barely more than the price of a movie. Contractors will install fixtures for the price of a haircut.

This blessed item, however, costs approximately $200, which Ms. Behavior was reluctant to spend, because her current priority is organic hair products and vegetables. But luckily, Ms. Behavior’s wife received this item as a gift.
Is it an exaggeration to refer to a Global Positioning System (GPS) as a marital aid?

No. Plug it into your car lighter, punch in your destination, and the soothing female voice tells you just how to get where you’re going. You’re released from the job of directing your partner. She doesn’t call you names in a confusing city. Wrong turns are no problem—you don’t have to pull over and remap your route if you make a mistake. Hours formerly wasted on fighting now can be spent on love and kindness. “The lady” inside the GPS machine says, “Recalculating!” and you continue on your way.

So, yes, count this as first in Ms. Behavior’s list of ingredients for marital bliss.
Some may ask: “Why the inclusion of GPS in a column geared toward GLBT advice?”

Simply because: (1) This issue falls under the category of relationship advice; and (2) Any item Ms. Behavior touches is a gay item.

Dear Ms. Behavior:
My boyfriend, Steve, a staunch defender of GLBT rights, read a few recent arguments in favor of civil unions. Now, he says he would accept civil unions as a substitute for gay marriage. This is shocking, because he was furious at his parents after they argued this point a couple of years back. I fear we’re losing ground on this issue if Steve can be swayed to the other side.
What do you think about civil union as a substitute for gay marriage?

Dear Martin:
Ms. Behavior believes that a civil union is a consolation prize, much like being offered a seat in the middle of the bus. There’s still the sense of being relegated to a specific section, without the privileges conveyed to those in the front.
Advocates for federally recognized civil unions claim it would offer “all or most” of the benefits of marriage.

In an op-ed piece in The New York Times (February 22), the authors proposed a condition be passed along with the same bill, ensuring that Washington would recognize “only those unions licensed in states with robust religious-conscience exceptions.”

This means religious organizations would be “protected” from having to recognize same-sex unions, sparing them from having to host same-sex celebrations on their property, or from having to offer health care benefits to spouses of their gay or lesbian employees.

A gay wedding obviously could be any church’s worst nightmare. Just imagine a gaggle of butt-loving nellies on their lawn, bumping and grinding in nuptial celebration. Or, what if an orthodox synagogue were forced to allow a flock of confused lesbians, who perhaps believe they are at a Wimmin’s Music Festival, to dance shirtless on their steps?

It’s easy to get distracted by the entertaining religious issue, but the bigger problem is that civil unions are not marriage.

Would it be wrongheaded to settle for something that doesn’t create equal cultural recognition? Would a halfway measure bring us incrementally closer to the right to marry, or would it be a resting place so “acceptable” that we never would finish the journey?

Ms. Behavior believes we should hold out for the real thing.

© 2009 Meryl Cohn. Address questions and correspondence to [email protected]. She is the author of Do What I Say: Ms. Behavior’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Etiquette (Houghton Mifflin). Signed copies are available directly from the author.

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