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I'm against gay marriage--and straight marriage too

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
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  • Comedian Dean Obeidallah says he's against marriage -- both gay and straight
  • He says institution has been so debased that worries about gay marriage harming it are ridiculous
  • He says it's nicer not to be married -- "girlfriend" sounds more exciting than "a wife"
  • Obeidallah's advice to gay and straight people: Don't ruin a good relationship by getting married

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah is an award-winning comedian who has appeared on TV shows such as Comedy Central's "Axis of Evil" special, ABC's "The View," CNN's "What the Week" and HLN's "The Joy Behar Show." He is executive producer of the annual New York Arab-American Comedy Festival and the Amman Stand Up Comedy Festival. Follow him on Twitter.

(CNN) -- I'm opposed to gay marriage -- there I said it.

I'm also against marriage for straight people or any other type of people.

Marriage is a badly bloodied and battered institution. So it's mind-boggling when people claim that allowing gay Americans to marry will somehow tarnish the sanctity of marriage.

Tarnish the sanctity of marriage? Do the names Tiger Woods, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Edwards, Jesse James or Anthony Weiner ring a bell?

We are way beyond "tarnishing" the institution of marriage. These people and many, many others like them have treated marriage like it's a newspaper used to housebreak a new puppy.

Certainly, gay Americans should have the same right to get married as straight people, and for two reasons: First, as various state courts have held, discrimination against Americans based simply on sexual orientation is wrong. And second, after what we straight people have done to desecrate the institution of marriage, gay marriages can only improve its image.

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But just because you have the legal right to wed, this doesn't mean it's a good idea. Marriage is as outdated as a Sony Discman and MySpace.

The concept of marriage was created thousands of years ago and has not been updated since. Even my iPhone is updated each year. I'm not saying we should live each day like we are on spring break in Tijuana -- I've been happily in a committed, monogamous relationship with my girlfriend for more than five years, and I recommend this kind of arrangement.

My point is: Why change something that is working so well? It's not as though being married ensures fidelity or that you will stay together forever if you tie the knot. Just look at the divorce rate, which has long hovered around 50 percent.

Let us quickly compare the idea of dating versus marriage.

The word "dating" sounds fun. It conjures up images of walking hand in hand, stealing kisses and sitting in a rowboat together on a lake.

In contrast, the term "marriage" makes me think of electric bills, rug shopping and death.

Plus terms such as "husband" and "wife" sound so boring and decrepit. But "girlfriend" and "boyfriend" sound eternally young -- like Peter Pan and Tinker Bell.

Let's be honest, if you're at work and someone says: "Your wife is on the phone," the usual response can range from bored acceptance to "Ughhh, tell her I'm not here."

But the words "Your girlfriend is on the phone" have an air of excitement: Instantly everyone with a wife will glare at you enviously.

And I'm not alone in these feelings. Through the ages, many have warned about the perils of marriage, yet their sage advice has gone unheeded:

Woody Allen told us eloquently: "Marriage is the death of hope."

Comedian Bill Maher famously said: "I always compare marriage to communism. They're both institutions that don't conform to human nature, so you're going to end up with lying and hypocrisy."

Abraham Lincoln, the man who freed the slaves, may have wished he could've freed married people as well as evidenced by this comment: "Marriage is neither heaven nor hell, it is simply purgatory."

Leonardo da Vinci, the legendary Italian painter and Renaissance man, declared: "Marriage is like putting your hand into a bag of snakes in the hope of pulling out an eel."

In Leonardo's view, the best marriage offered was an eel.

Even Euripides in ancient Greece in 438 B.C. noted: "Never say that marriage has more of joy than pain."

Keep in mind Euripides said that thousands of years ago, when human life expectancy was about 30 years, yet even then he warned his fellow Greeks of the tragedy of marriage.

If you have any doubts about what I'm saying, think about the married people you know. Yes, some are happy, but most seem like members of a cult. They walk around like zombies, their dark, lifeless eyes staring into space as if searching for the grim reaper.

So I say forget putting a question on the ballot about legalizing same-sex marriage. I propose we put a question on the ballot in each state asking voters whether straight marriage should be legal. I think there is a good chance straight marriage might not pass in every state (especially in those with high divorce rates such as Nevada, Maine and Oklahoma).

And to all those considering marriage -- straight or gay -- my humble advice is this: If you're happy in your current dating relationship, don't ruin it by getting married.

As the late film director King Vidor so aptly put it, "Marriage is not a word, it is a sentence."

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

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