In his piece, “The Supreme Court’s Lonely Hearts Club,” Michael Cobb responds to Justice Kennedy’s remarks on marriage following the Obergefell v. Hodges case. Much like in Laura Kipnis’ essay, “Against Love,” Cobb expresses his dissent towards the societal definition of love which must include marriage. Cobb comments on how it is unfair that the government has the power to determine whether a relationship is acceptable or not.
Arguing that marriage is not an essential part of a person’s happiness, Cobb expresses that single people are also able to find relationships (not necessarily romantic) that give them the “general feeling of dignity, well-being, and justice” (4). In society, marriage is viewed as the embodiment of “the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family” (4), and those who are unwed are deemed as undignified and are “den[ied]… adequate language, representation, and consideration” (3).
I agree with Cobb that the government shouldn’t be able to decide what type of love or relationships are “legitimate.” Even in the “progressive” world that we are in, when we talk about love, it is almost always the passionate love of those in a romantic relationship. However, there are many other types of love —the love between friends, family members, and even business partners— that are just as important to an individual’s happiness and well-being as romantic love. Cobb demonstrates the importance of platonic love with the example of Senator Lindsey Graham. While single, Senator Graham has been able to lead a successful career, and when asked who would become his First Lady, he merely replied: “Well, I’ve got a sister, she could play that role if necessary” (2).
However, while I agree that all forms of love should be given an equal amount of respect by both society and the government, I also disagree with how Cobb reduces marriage to little more than a contract between those who only want the benefits mentioned above. I recognize some’s hesitance in wanting to get married to avoid the commitment to becoming one’s lifelong partner. However, I believe that marriage should not only be viewed as an institution that presents couples with legal benefits and “orders the world and civilization” (2) but also as a tradition that couples can go through as a way to express their love and commitment to one another.