This is a compilation of the four part series I complete on marriage equality.
Part I: A Queer History
Virginia, 1835 – Can it not be said that because Negros are lower forms of being in God’s great plan, that it would be blasphemy to the Lord’s word to allow them liberty the same as Whites? It is not by man’s fear of the unbiased allocation of power that drives the status of blacks in the South, but that nature of which God has given Blacks and Whites that hold on this Earth. White men and women were endowed by their creator with large brains, reasoning capabilities, and with the determination it takes to learn, and comprehend. Negro men and women were created for a more simple life; for a more simple work. Those Blacks owe their lives to White men and women because without them, Negros would be lost. Do not let the Negro’s destroy our livelihood. Together we are strong and will not fail. –An interpretation of arguments presented by many Southern Slave owners and advocates, included Elisa McCord
Germany, 1939 – Our once great nation of Germany, still in shambles from the Great War two decades ago, is having its rebuilding efforts thwarted by a growing enemy within. The Jews are destroying any chance we have to make our country great again. Our economy is struggling, our government is failing, and our livelihood is lost, unless we take action. The Jews must be erased from Europe. They are pests that mock our savior and jest at our hopes for a future of prosperity. Join together, people of Germany, and unite against this enemy. Together we are strong and will not fail. – An Interpretation of arguments made by German leaders that lead up to the start of World War II
United States, 2010 – A devil has been allowed to rise to prominence in our society. A deviant and bottom-dwelling lifestyle choice with aims at undermining all of the moral teachings that had been propagated in the last fifty years is spreading. This disease will take children and destroy the foundation which they need to become great workers and leaders in our country. It will annihilate the traditional family as we know it. This unhealthy and unnatural existence is plaguing the overtones of our growing problem of immorality. The gays must be eradicated. Remove them and their kind from our churches, communities, and public offices. Until they decide to live the lifestyle that we live, disallow fundamental rights that we, the majority hold. Together we are strong and will not fail. –An interpretation of arguments that have been made to me while discussing the topic of same-sex marriage with people in my personal life
It would seem that these narratives are obviously facetious and worthy of the ridicule to their represented points of view. As a society, we observe that blacks are not only three-fifths of a person and that people of all religious upbringings can and should be allowed to be productive members of our society. However, there is still one battle being fought in our society and legal system. That which would allow gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered couples to wed and enjoy the same rights that any other couple would.
In the 1950s, American suburban dwellers started to become more aware of homosexuality. The decade was ripe with propaganda. There was even (mis)information floating around that homosexuality was linked with child-molestation.
The video above speaks of homosexuality as “a sickness of the mind.” A homosexual is described as “Someone who demands intimate relations with someone of the same sex.” The view of homosexuality being linked to child-molestation has since been accepted as false by society, but there is still a fear of homosexuality as if it was an intentional obscenity uttered by those that would seek to do harm to the establishment.
Society was not ready to accept gays at that time, and wouldn’t be for decades to come. Ten years later, however, saw the civil rights movement for African-Americans. It was a time in which societal standards of acceptance and disallowance of discrimination first came to fruition in America. This was the ignition of social acceptance movements that many are still fighting for today.
The 1970s and 1980s saw a partial change in social norms. As the household structure and gender roles of the home had begun shifting because of the rise of women in the workplace, it was also starting to become acceptable to be an openly-gay man or woman to lead more public lives. While still dangerous and unaccepted by some, prominent figureheads in the LGBT movement showed the masses that homosexuality was not heinous like the previous generation had been led to believe.
Then, in 1981, five gay men were hospitalized with a new disease. These men had severely-compromised immune systems and all perished. By the end of 1981, five to six new cases were being reported every week. In June of 1982, there had been 355 cases isolated. The next month, the condition was given a name: Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, AIDS. AIDS ravished the homosexual community and led to a worldwide change in how sexual relations were practiced.
Many people thought that this disease could only affect homosexual people, but in 1991, NBA player Magic Johnson announced that he had HIV and went on to crusade for the spread of knowledge about the disease. There is still no definite cure.
Now, we face a new challenge. The millennium has come and gone and there is still a disconnection between fundamental rights of ‘straight’ couples and that of homosexual couples. Over the next three parts of this series, I will discuss the arguments on both sides.
I aim to explore the religious and non-religious reasons why same-sex marriage should/should not be allowed; to try and understand the worthiness of any claim that people of any kind are, and can be treated as unequal in liberty or rights.
I will also discuss the common arguments for the acceptance and allowance of same-sex marriage, as well as presenting some of my own, in order to shed light on the growing movement of advocation that is sweeping modern civilization.
This is an issue of equality. Our aim is to decide how much is too much when it comes to equal rights – or to decide that people are to be allowed the same opportunities across the board.
Part II: God’s Country and the Future of Our Children
Though it may be rightfully considered a religious issue, there are arguments used from both religious and non-religious sides. Although, the reasoning of the non-religious arguments generally holds root in American Religious tradition. It is known, albeit sometimes ignored, that our Constitutional provisions disallow any law being created for or because of religious doctrine or belief. Even so, there are those among us that would seek to find some logical argument, even while exercising fallacies, to create a country in which their rights are sound and the rights of others are expendable. This is the platform of those against marriage equality.
We will save the fun, religious arguments for later. First, let us address the “non-religious” platforms for the inequality our country pronounces. Of the three most used statements of non-religious origins, two of heavily involve the future of our children. First, ‘Allowing gays to marry would weaken traditional family values that are essential to our society.’ Second, ‘Gays marrying will confuse children about gender roles.’ Finally, ‘If I can marry a man, why can’t I marry a horse?’ The last one is my favorite.
‘Allowing gays to marry would weaken traditional family values that are essential to our society.’ This may be the most common argument used against same-sex marriage. This is argument is one that is a surrogate for the religious arguments because it is not sound in constitutional law, instead, a much more defensive ideal that instills fear into the masses. It solidly professes the idea that “they” will take away what “I” hold dearly to my heart. The argument is not strong, however, because of the defensive, fear inducing motivation, and the illusion of “traditional family values.” Traditional family values date back to the late 1940s/early 1950s. We have all heard the term ‘Nuclear Family.’ A man and women, father works a middle-class day job and the mother is the homemaker. They also have a couple kids that go to suburban public schools. With the rise of fear of godless communism in the 1950s, the suburban family needed something to cling to. Thus, the traditional family values that have since become obsolete. Now, this tradition, being less than five generations old and already outdated with the rise of one-parent households, ambiguous gender roles, and the semi-acceptance of unmarried gay couples adopting children is irrelevant in the discussion.
Much more simply denied is the belief that gay parents would confuse children about gender roles. In the early 1990s, unmarried gay couples adopting children started to become much more common. Though the fear that it would destroy the future of the children was not realized, there are still groups that would perpetuate the opposite. Since World War II, gender roles in the household have become more and more ambiguous and now, an equal number of men and women hold professional positions and do equal work in the house. Like the previous argument, this one is irrelevant.
The final non-religious argument is my favorite. While stating it facetiously, I enjoy using a southern accent. “If I can marry a man, why can’t I marry a horse?” Really, any barnyard animal can be substituted. This is a perfect argument for the uneducated because it is a perfect example of the slippery slope logical fallacy. Telling the layperson that the argument is a slippery slope fallacy will not convince them, so we will delve more deeply. This is a comparison between a gay man or woman and a horse. This argument exposes the true feelings of those against equality of any kind. They believe that the others are lower beings, like animals. There should be no fear that same sex marriage would give way to man-marrying-animal because an animal cannot consent and are not cognitively aware as Homo sapiens are. If you worry about polygamy, then you’re not reading your bible very well- multiple instances in which the bible endorses it. Additionally, Mohammed is famous for taking on many wives, and endorsing such acts if the household-head can support them all.
Though also irrelevant in law, the religious arguments are important to address because American religious institutions seem to not understand that they do not have political power outside of their own sect. The first thing that American Christians tell you when you say ‘same-sex marriage’ is “I believe it is a sin in the bible.” We all know what the passage reads basically that a man laying with other men as they do with women is an ‘abomination.’ The term ‘abomination’ is one of the most popular words for a Christian. However, they seem to forget that in the same breath, the primitive middle-eastern writer also states that eating ham and wearing clothing of multiple fabrics is an ‘abomination.’ There is no way to reconcile this without admitting that the reader can interpret the severity of the sin and make their own assumptions as to what it is supposed to mean. By trying, you take credibility away from your own argument because an average Christian parishioner is not equipped at all to interpret their own holy book.
Finally, it is common to hear that marriage sanctity is important. Christians in America truly believe that marriage is the creation of Christians before them, and must be protected. I will admit that if a church chooses to not marry two people, for whatever reason, the law cannot and should not force them to. However, religious marriage and legal marriage as observed by the government are not interchangeable. Obviously, the phrase “sanctity of marriage” is laughable, unless you include polygamy and womanservents. I say: let the religions hate. They will lose their members and die out (like the ultra-conservative Republican Party) unless they move with civilization into the 21st century and beyond.
Part III: All Men are Created Equal
If cliché phrases can be tools for the writers, let this be another instance of the rhetoric device:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” -Thomas Jefferson
If you’re an American, you have been indoctrinated with these words and always keep them in the back of your mind. These words, above all others in any of the founder’s literature, express America and American spirit, her hopes, her dreams, and her beliefs. The meaning of these words seems to me to be as self-evident as the truths of which Thomas Jefferson is referring to. All people, no matter the creed, belief, non-violent action, or speech act have the right to live a life in pursuit of happiness and life’s ventures. However, there are some that would twist these words and their meaning to lessen the rights that they enjoy, simply because others are different.
These are some of the arguments for marriage equality:
In response to an argument against gay marriage, I mentioned an argument for the ‘naturalness’ of what we would call ‘gay sex acts.’ I seem to have upset some people, as they felt it was a weak argument. However, it is a sound argument and I will present it again, in a way to define it more for those that may not understand.
Homo sapiens have the luxury of the evolution adaptation of a rational mind. A rational mind is a mind in which processes of the brain can help humans utilize logical speech acts to express a point or make a decision (whether it be to brush your teeth or stop at a stop-sign).
As far as human beings can understand, we are the only species on Earth that has the mental capacity to make these decisions. No other animal has ever given scientists any indication of holding the capability to reason as humans do.
There can be no disputing the fact that occasionally, human beings act without utilizing the rational-part of the brain. Whether that is positive or negative can be understood by the consequences of the action (if you are an ethical consequentialist).
An action can be considered ‘natural’ if a non-rationally capable animal commits the action because it does not take a rationally-evolved mind to complete the process and decide (for lack of a better word) to perform said action.
Therefore, because gay-sex acts are observed in non-human great apes and sea-dwelling mammals, and are somewhat commonplace in the animal kingdom, the act of gay-sex cannot be considered the ‘choice’ of a deviant lifestyle, as some religious folk may argue, but instead, a natural action performed by an animal (yes, human beings are animals).
I understand that it may sicken some of you to know that human beings are not anointed to be of a higher dominion than other animals. However, we are simply more-well adapted to our environment than many other animals, and coupled with the diet that our ancestors had that increased brain capacity over hundreds of thousands of generations, we are at a point in history in which our minds are the way we observe them to be, not out of a magic-man’s hands, but a natural process. Homosexual acts are a natural action. This argument alone is not enough to put to bed the argument that gays are somehow lesser beings than non-gays, but it is enough to put to be the pseudo-logical idea that homosexuality is ‘unnatural’
Alive as well is the argument that homosexuals lead harmful lifestyles. While ‘harmful’ can be subjective, the thought is that the transmission of AIDS is good enough to outlaw homosexual acts. However, we now know that AIDS is not a disease that effects only gays, but everyone. The transmission of AIDS is possible with any sexual contact. The harmful lifestyle that is being referred to is now, no longer had exclusive to oppressed gays that are disallowed civil rights that all others have, but now with those non-gays that would choose to lead a promiscuous sexual lifestyles.
This argument is yet another piece of political propaganda used to put gays into a status of sub-human existence. There is no evidence existing of a larger population per capita of gays leading a promiscuous lifestyle than there are of non-gays. However, the number may also significantly drop if marriage equality is obtained.
Floating around in the comments from my last piece, as well as in the lungs in middle-America is the idea that marriage is purely a Judeo-Christian institution. This is simply and easily laid to rest as there are many parts of the world in which love flourishes and Christianity has not tainted the air with its oppressive tyranny. Civil union cannot be hijacked by American Christians and become something that is exclusive to a system of belief that holds no leverage in Politics.
If you are religious and wish to make exclusive the rights of your church, mosque, or synagogue to those that profess to feel exactly the same way that you do, you may do that. However, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin, and many of the other founders warned future Americans that there would come a time in which religious oppression would attempt to take the rights away from citizens, and safeguarded the Constitution from special-interest groups with that aim.
Denying the rights of civil unions to people is a form of minority discrimination. Those of us that are fortunate to have been born as white, male, or middle/upper class in a time of American history that is much kinder to minorities do not understand the pain, mental and physical that women, blacks, Hispanics, middle-easterners, and any person that we see as different than ‘us’ have endured. This is the land of the free and is open to any that wish to hold the same rights that we find to be ‘self-evident’ among all people.
We are not different. Whether you ‘believe’ that gays are leading a deviant lifestyle, or you think that those around you are going to a terrible place for not believing in the same God as you (and being rude to you in the line at Subway), or you just think that brown people are dumb, your opinion has no bearing in government and you cannot shatter the hopes and dreams of a nation and its people of holding rights that should be held.
We are not different. I live with the presupposition that people in love with members of the same sex as them are not actors simply pretending to piss you and your God off. My position is based on our Constitution and scientific evidence as precedent for the way I live my life, which is one to support all people and their private actions.
Part IV: The Inevitability of Reason
“Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle. You don’t have to know Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr.
Reflection on this quote from the greatest voice of peace and the foremost-leader in the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. makes me hope for a time similar to the one that Dr. King fought for. His, a utopia where color was not seen, but people were people. Mine, a time in which a person may openly express who they are, who they love, and how they feel; a time in which people are not believed to be lesser for qualities they hold. This is my dream.
I have examined a brief history of the homosexual social taboo, stated and rebutted the arguments against same-sex marriage, and presented a case for marriage equality. It is clear to me that revocation of the rights of homosexuals, including the right to be recognized under marriage, would be a violation of the innate rights understood by our species.
We are all members of the same species, made of the same matter, with the same physical properties. It seems to be that petty differences in lifestyle, hope, fear, education, etc. are minuscule. And yet, amplified they remain, as a vessel by which the greedy will take control over the passive, the violent will harm the peaceful, and the wicked will rule the good.
“Cannot swords be turned to plowshares? Can we and all nations not live in peace? In our obsession with antagonisms of the moment, we often forget how much unites all the members of humanity. Perhaps we need some outside, universal threat to make us recognize this common bond. I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world. And yet, I ask you, is not an alien force already among us? What could be more alien to the universal aspirations of our peoples than war and the threat of war?”
– Ronald Reagan
The time is now. The United States Supreme Court will rule on the cases presented to them in March of 2013, and they will decide that a person’s sexual orientation is not a means by which it is acceptable to deny marriage rights to. The Defense of Marriage Act will be lifted and, like No Child Left Behind, there will be no place for misleading and heinous legislation in our country.
We cannot allow petty differences in lifestyle to give rise to the destruction remaining in foundation of liberty that we enjoy, and yet, allow to fade away in times of need. We cannot allow bronze-age literature to control legislation. We cannot advocate the demise of progress. The time for meaningful rhetoric is now. The time for change is now. The inevitability of reason arising is at hand. The world is evolving, and our social values are no different. It is only with the acceptance of alternative lifestyles as normal that we can lift the veil of deceit from over our eyes. We are not different. It is only through peace, love, and acceptance that we will be whole.