Sunday, May 31, 2009

Why Not Gay Marriage? or A Change is Gonna Come

Since the California Supreme Court upheld the ludicrous, church-driven Proposition 8 this week, I've been trying to find the words to voice exactly how I feel. I haven't been able to do it really, since I'd addressed the topic of gay marriage/civil unions in the past, and my opinion has been on record since 2004. Everything I scrawled down was a reflection or a modification of something I had written before.

In 2004, while I was writing for the alt-weekly newspaper Planet Weekly, in Jackson, Mississippi, I wrote the following column. I've decided to post it here, because it reflects what I feel now, what I felt then, and what I've felt for a long time. I simply don't understand why others feel differently, and a look askance at the justifications they give.

I haven't changed a word, or reference of the body of the text, and have only removed the link to our former website at the bottom. A point of pride: when this hit our blog at the time, I was impressed how many Mississippians chimed in and agreed with me - that the issue of sexual orientation simply shouldn't matter.

Like it or not, people, the world is going to change. It may change around you, but it's going to change.

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"Civil Unions"

For the first time, the issue of gay marriages – or civil unions – has been brought up for serious discussion. With the Commonwealth of Massachusetts deciding that they are legal, there is finally real, tangible discussion about this issue. Yes, the State of Vermont allowed civil unions several years ago, but Vermont is a small state with little influence on others. When Massachusetts took this big step, it became major news.

The conservatives’ views on this issue are already well known. In a nutshell, they believe that allowing gay marriages leads to the end of civilization, as we know it. This is not a surprise. A bit more surprising is the mixed reactions occurring in the various liberal camps. Even my man Wesley Clark splits this particular hair, supporting “civil unions,” but not going so far as to call them “marriages.”

Personally, I don’t see the problem. I totally support the idea of gay marriages. And I don’t feel a need to qualify the statement. I don’t think they should be called “civil unions.” I think that if a marriage is recognized in one state, it should be recognized in every state. I think a gay married couple should be allowed every right that a straight married couple receives. Call me crazy, plenty have, but I simply don’t believe that allowing gay men and women to marry will cause the downfall of the American Way.

If anything, it should strengthen it. In a nation where “Family Values!” has become an actual battle cry, the idea of preventing people from forming families is ludicrous at best, discriminatory at worst. If gays wish to form families, and raise children, they should have the same rights as those who are not gay.

What we have to lose in this situation are our prejudices. What we have to gain is much more important: an understanding that one need not be a part of a mother-father-two-point-two-children family, to be part of a family.

But what we have come to, as we so often do when dealing with the conservative mindset, is a case of hypocrisy standing in for policy. As usual, the right-wingers claim that they are the ones who stand up for everyone and support equality for all. This is true, unless of course you are different.

The conservatives can give all sorts of reasons for why this discrimination is acceptable, from the irrational “the Bible says so” to the rational, if selfish, “I just don’t like it.” I believe it’s actually a little simpler and far more insidious than that. I believe that they are afraid. Not afraid of what these “wicked” people will do to the American Ideal, but afraid of change.

Our society remains in a state of flux, constantly evolving and changing. Fifty years ago, women were expected to set aside their own personalities, dreams, and desires, to become stay-at-home mothers and wives. One hundred and fifty years ago, it was legal to buy and sell black men and women at will. Two hundred and fifty years ago, the concept of America didn’t even exist.

It’s time to take a step forward, ignoring the crusaders of the status quo; those who would prefer to force their prejudices on others – those who, in the past, also supported the ideas of sexism, slavery, and crown rule. Those were bad ideas then. Fighting a change to create a more tolerant society is a bad idea now.

Show me some spine, folks, and tell me what you think. All responsible viewpoints are welcome at… Incoherent ramblings will probably be okay, too.

4 comments:

  1. Since my wife and I were married in a civil service, how does that make ours a marriage in the Neocon eyes? I really do get confused on this matter in their "Sanctity of Marriage" defense. There was no "sanctity" or "sacredness" as it wasn't a religious ceremony. How is that different?

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  2. Thanks for posting this, I have enjoyed your other posts as well.

    I was one of the "afraid" crowd, somewhere along the line I realized what I was really afraid of was change. Then someone told me it's much harder to bend the will of the universe than your own. Life got easier that day...

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  3. Rustyg,

    If most of us were honest, we'd all admit what you just wrote - that it's change that frightens us, not necessarily the kind of change it is. I'll say that I was in college before I got over my fear of change, the unknown, and all that rot - and became a better man because of it.

    I'm glad to see you're already there, and it's probably even better that you know how you did it.

    Welcome! And thank you for the kind words.

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  4. Tom, you seem to have forgotten the... ahem... logic of the fringe right. As good, God-fearing heterosexual people, choosing to be wed in a civil ceremony is still "marriage."

    But if you were evil, Baal-worshiping homosexual folks, no matter where you were wed, you would be joined in a "civil union."

    There's no logic to it. It's just emotion. You and Lisa are MARRIED, just like any straight couple is, and just like any gay couple should be.

    (Republican Logic = Oh, you're actually heterosexual, but you're evil and worship Baal? Well, you're going to Hell, but at least you're going married!)

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