Friday, October 22, 2010

Rethinking the Gay Marriage Debate

(News-Herald October 21) The gay marriage argument is only going to get noisier, because it’s the last gasp of the battle that’s often the loudest.
Gay marriage is here. It’s already happening, and at a fairly regular rate. The only real question is whether it will be recognized by governments or not, and that change is just a matter of time. And not much time at that.
So let the final rounds of arguments commence. But I’m tired of the same old arguments; here are the things I don’t want to hear about during the fight.
I don’t want to hear the Biblical arguments. This scriptural cherry picking has been worn out by both sides.
I don’t want to hear the medical argument currently favored by Diane Gramley’s AFA. It’s an argument typical of the group, not fashioned out of genuine concern but designed to adopt a stance that can’t be attacked.
The argument that the homosexual life is inherently more hazardous to one’s health doesn’t work the way they’d like it to. For one thing, you can only label AIDS a homosexual disease if you ignore the disease’s history on, say, the entire African continent. Recent research does indicate that it’s the male brand of biology that best sustains HIV, so it appears that Gramley and the AFA are arguing in favor of what is clearly the safest, healthiest relationship choice—lesbian marriage.
I do understand the “changing the definition of marriage could lead to…” argument. When you start messing with the meaning of words, strange things happen. “Marriage” could come to mean “a union between a man and a cow.” It could also come to mean “a ham sandwich” or “a card game played with lettuce leaves.” These are all bridges we can decide not to cross if we ever come to them.
The argument that I find most odious is the one that claims homosexuality is just a choice.
There are certainly people who provide support for this. Homosexuals are the only oppressed group that you can “join” just by saying so, and there are certainly people who call themselves gay because they’re curious or they want attention or even because it might be a great way to take people to court and extort some money out of them.
It’s unfortunate that these faux-mosexuals make it easier to dismiss the issues that actual gay folks face, because anyone who ever sat with a person really struggling with the realization of their own homosexuality could never imagine that it’s a choice. Sometimes the person is not even the first to figure that she or he is gay. I’ve seen these moments play out a hundred ways, and none of them involved a young person heaving a giant sigh of relief and saying, “Wow, well, turns out I’m gay. Thank goodness.” And certainly not, “I’ve weighed the pros and cons and I’ve decided to choose Gay as my lifetstyle.” It’s hard to see why anyone would choose the challenges of truly being gay in a small town setting.
I can only assume that someone who claims homosexuality is a choice has never met an actual gay person. Opponents of gay marriage are heavily invested in the view of homosexuality as a choice not necessarily because they believe it, but because it’s an important linchpin of their argument. They’re simply wrong.
The Gay Marriage Will Erode Society argument also does not hold up. I’m actually surprised that more conservatives don’t support gay marriage. Society’s interest in marriage is in having citizens agree to make themselves each other’s problem and not the government’s. Stable family groups create a stable society. Stable marriages—gay or not—are in the government’s best interest.
Admittedly, the government’s best interests may not coincide with churches’. That’s why there’s an important lesson for religious conservatives in all this. Those who want to end the separation of church and state imagine that once church and state are handcuffed to each other, the state will go where the church drags it. But there’s a reason that church folks helped build that wall of separation in the first place—sometimes it’s the state that drags the church.
Marriage is one of the few places where church and state are still mostly handcuffed together, and the state has mostly bowed to the church’s definition of marriage. But I believe that’s about to change. Maybe instead of arguing fruitlessly, some folks should be looking for the key to the handcuffs.

2 comments: said...
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Matt and Steph Bell said...

Thanks for this.

If people are going debate, argue or disagree.. the least they can do is find some new material. Not just some regurgitated mess they heard on the radio or elsewhere for that matter.

I want to see the 'letters to the editor' by the way.. in response.

Keep doing what you do.

-S. Bell, former student

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