Michael Cobb wrote this opinion piece, “The Supreme Court’s Lonely Hearts Club” in a response to the Obergefell vs. Hodges case where Justice Anthony Kennedy commented on the relationship between marriage and loneliness. Not only did he say that “Marriage responds to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there,” but also “no union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family” (1). Cobb takes deep offense to this statement for two reasons.
One, he doesn’t believe that in essence having sex (or not) should determine the benefits a relationship can gain in the eyes of the government. If two good friends wish to function as a unit and receive the tax benefits they should be able to. He believes that the difference between this and a marriage at its core is that they are not having sex. To him this line between friends and romantic partners seems arbitrary.
Two, if Justice Kennedy wants to deliver “same sex couples ‘equal dignity in the eyes of the law’” (3) then there is the implication that non-married people lack dignity. Cobb believes that his dignity, his respect for himself, should not be determined by whether he is in a committed relationship or not. These comments lacked consideration for people who don’t care to get married or who just haven’t gotten married yet. As Cobb questions, inevitably we will all be single as times in our lives so then are we inevitably undignified sometimes?
This made me think about why our government holds the power to legitimizing relationships. If they determine who gets the benefits of being in a certain relationship and who doesn’t then they show preferential treatment to some partnerships over others. This reminded me of Laura Kipnis’s article and how our love is deeply institutionalized in some aspects. The government perpetuates the notion that we must marry one other person and be in a relationship with till death do us apart.