A Marriage Scam
This is how out of it I am. I didn’t even realize Kim Kardashian was married — not until this past weekend, when I saw that a cable channel had devoted massive blocks of airtime to her wedding. And I’m so out of it I thought she was marrying the footballer Reggie Bush of the Miami Dolphins, who at that moment was running roughshod over the defense of the New York Giants in just the second 100-yard rushing game of his career. I thought that’s why he was playing so well — because he had just gotten married. But it turns out Kim Kardashian married another dude, a basketball player by the name of Kris Humphries who plays for the New Jersey Nets in the NBA, which is apparently still a thing. Kardashian, of course, is a reality-television show star who first came to the public eye after a successful performance in a bizarre sex tape, the release of which may or may not have been authorized. She is also known for her big butt. We are supposed to care about Kardashian — and her family, which includes a few similarly vacuous sisters, a wannabe thug brother, a PR mastermind mother and, of all people, Bruce Jenner, who won the Gold Medal for the decathlon in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Moscow and also starred in the 1980 film Can’t Stop the Music, a fictionalized biopic about the Village People. Oh, and her dead father helped OJ get off. Okay, so maybe I’ve seen the show, “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” a couple times. Maybe I’ve seen it more than a couple times. But I did not watch the wedding, which according to news sources that track this kind of thing, cost between $10 and $20 million. There is actually quite a bit of information about this event on the web: the $15,000 cake, the $50,000 bachelorette party, the $2 million engagement ring that weighed in at 20.5 carats… and also the estimated $17.9 million the couple earned from the television deals, the People magazine photoshoot and other assorted endorsement agreements. The blessed union lasted 72 days, not long enough, even, to affix to the blissful pair one of those aggregate nicknames we give to celebrity couples, like Brangelina. Or Trump-lania. Interestingly enough, Kardashian filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences, just two weeks after the TV special debuted on the E! channel. The timing is remarkable, really. The real question — besides “What the hell happened to Bruce Jenner?” — is, “Why should anyone care?” Why should we care about this millionaire family whose problems do not remotely resemble our own, who leverage our attention to their ridiculous exploits into more millions that support their largely sedentary and shallow lives? Well, we shouldn’t. But maybe, right now in North Carolina, we should. Because maybe you don’t realize it, but here in the Old North State there is a movement afoot to amend our state constitution to honor marriages like the one between Kim Kardashian and whatshisname, to make them sacrosanct above other types of unions by virtue of the participants, namely: one man and one woman. You may not know as much about the North Carolina Defense of Marriage Act as you do about the Kardashian wedding, and for that you can be forgiven — opponents of the law do not have as big a PR budget as the toothy Hollywood family, and proponents of it would prefer that you know as little as possible about the legislation before it comes to a voter referendum in the May 2012 North Carolina primary, a primary that, you should be reminded, will name our choice for the Republican presidential nominee and will therefore be of more interest to Republicans, who generally favor this particular type of government intervention in our lives, than Democrats, who generally do not. The bill seeks to define marriage in this state as a union between one man and one woman, and illegitimize any other type of union, even existing civil unions and legal same-sex marriages performed in states that allow them. The ramifications are more complicated, even, than the logistics of gay sex, affecting property rights, financial arrangements, existing healthcare contracts, estate law and basic human rights. The bill’s authors pitch it as being good for business — tell that to Replacements Limited — and an issue upon which the people demand to vote. But their most odious defense of this unconscionable law is that it protects the sanctity of marriage, calling it the foundation of our society. There is the implied message that two men who share their lives, sleep in the same bed and have a joint bank account somehow diminish this pillar of our society. But what really harms this sacred institution are families like the Kardashians, who seemingly approach weddings with the same set of ethics they apply to making and releasing sex tapes, and those who think a marriage is about the gender of the participants and not their integrity.