Friday, September 20, 2002

Love and Marriage, Love and Marriage
Why not allow them both for dykes and fairies?

Gays can blame Osama Bin Laden, I guess, because two years ago, Dick Cheney seemed ready to push for some sort of legal acknowledgement of their rights as committed partners. Unless, of course, he was just lying. True, he did it in what could euphemistically be called a "diplomatic" fashion, lacking any evidence of real political cojones (which have shown to be absent in other areas after he scampered off to his undisclosed location), but he did it nonetheless. He said this about the issue during a debate with Ol' Joe Lieberman: "I try to be open-minded about it as much as I can and tolerant of those relationships.

"And like Joe (Lieberman), I also wrestle with the extent to which there ought to be legal sanction of those relationships. I think we ought to do everything we can to tolerate and accommodate whatever kind of relationships people want to enter into."

This statement, though somewhat wishy-washy, seems to be one of the best made by any of the four main candidates on this issue during the lastelection season. Gore only said that he supported civic unions and Lieberman basically implied the same.

The time seems to be ripe, though, for someone to make a much stronger statement. It seemed three years ago that the barriers to this right for homosexuals had begun to crumble (due to the Vermont Supreme Court ruling) and, it's true, the U.S. Supreme Court most likely will be the force that destroys the barrier once and for all. It would be nice if one person could show the leadership required to say that laws preventing same-sex marriage are misguided and ridiculous.

What keeps politicians from making such a statement is public opinion. A January Gallup poll found that 62 percent of us believe that gay marriages should not be recognized and homosexual couples should not have the same rights as heterosexual couples - the right to make medical decisions for partners, the rights of survivorship, etc. The question is why? Why do Americans fear gay marriages?

One novel suggestion can be found on the Concerned Women for America Web site, which says, in part, that it would be a legal headache, considering the fact that homosexual unions would conflict with existing sodomy laws. This seems a disingenuous argument. Consider the fact that oral sex is one of the types of sexual activity listed as sodomy by nearly every state with existing sodomy laws, including my home state of Kansas. Taking this into account, I think we all would be glad to carry the title of sodomite.

The real reason that people have a problem with same-sex marriage can be found in the transcript of another presidential debate. (I have to go back this far because, once the election was over, it never came up again.)

George W. Bush said he sees marriage as a "sacred institution between a man and a woman." My church and I would agree. However, when we attempt to legislate according to our personal definitions of "sacred," we are going down the wrong road. The things that are sacred to me are not sacred to others. There are some churches that would have no problem with gay marriages and would consider them as sacred as any other. It's frightening to me that conservatives see no logical confusion here when they fight to keep the federal government from telling their churches how they can act, yet use the same government as a weapon against churches who would sanctify homosexual marriages.

The aforementioned CWA Web site uses the American Heritage Dictionary definition of marriage, saying that it is a "union between a man and a woman." They leave out, however, the word "legal" before union. The truth is that the state should see marriages as they see any other exchange of legal documentation and not through the prism of religion.

Should the state disallow gay mortgages? Same-sex auto sales? If the state were forced to base its view of marriage on the Christian view of matrimony as a holy institution, wouldn't it have to pretty much outlaw divorce?

Homosexuals are one of the last groups of people in America who can be discriminated against legally. Marriage is just the tip of the iceberg. (Although, as Andrew Sullivan wrote in "Virtually Normal," "If nothing else were done at all, and gay marriage were legalized, 90 percent of the political work necessary to achieve gay and lesbian equality would have been achieved.") Republicans have repeatedly blocked legislation that would add sexual orientation to the Equal Opportunity Act's list of reasons for which you can't fire or avoid hiring employees. This month, Republicans scared Topeka's city council into voting down such an ordinance.

The main problem with the conservative take on this issue, though, is that, while they say that liberals' minds are always in the gutter, they're the ones with sex on the brain.

During the presidential election, Bush answered a question about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act by saying that it shouldn't be any of his concern "how you conduct your sex life." This statement represents a commonly used conservative fallback position (which seems to apply to homosexuals but not Democratic presidents). The twisted part of this response is that they refuse to admit that homosexuality is not an issue of "sex life," but of love.

If conservatives define homosexuality and heterosexuality solely by sex acts, it's a wonder that they can consider any union truly sacred.


Post a Comment

<< Home