By Brian Jaime
In my last column about gay marriage, I poked fun at the sexuality of make-believe cartoon characters. However, the gay marriage debate is not make-believe and those involved in the struggle are not cartoon characters, but real people with real agendas. I must first implore you to read this article with an open mind and heart.
In the past few years, the issue of Gay Marriage has gained more and more exposure as same-sex couples have stepped forward to unite themselves in the sacred institution of matrimony. However, the homosexuals of today are facing an uphill battle for equality, freedom and, most importantly, love. Same Sex Marriage is the hottest issue facing the country and your views could very well aid in shaping America’s stance on the issue once and for all.
Like many minorities, homosexuals have faced a continuing struggle for this wonderful word: equality. They are not the first minority group to be discriminated against during the course of our Nation’s history. If we look back in time, we will find that children, women, the disabled, African Americans, Jews, Mexican Americans, Chinese Americans, American Indians and many others have faced adversity when trying to be equal. Every minority group has been put through the challenge of being discriminated against, persecuted, denied and segregated. And each has fought for their equal liberties and has struggled for their cause. Homosexuals are the next group who will have to take on this fight and, eventually, they will be rewarded with this equality.
It is not enough to simply start with the past, knowing that every minority group has struggled and most have overcome some prejudice or another. One must also take into consideration the present and future of this heavy debate. Presently, the issue has sparked controversy nationwide with one state legalizing gay marriage (Massachusetts) and two states having their Supreme Courts clarify that denying marriage to same sex partners is unconstitutional (New York and California). In addition, eleven states have declared (through majority vote) that same sex marriage is illegal in their state. And, the biggest clincher has been the Federal Government’s attempt to pass a Constitutional Amendment, which President Bush endorses, that would specifically state that marriage is between a man and a woman only.
What does this all mean? Simply that the Federal Government, under President Bush, wants to control the inalienable rights and liberties of the American people. In simplest terms, the Constitution identifies certain rights and liberties that the Federal Government cannot pass laws in regards to. These rights include: bearing arms, marriage, state and local taxes, freedom of speech, etc. The only body of government which can make laws that would affect these rights is the state government. This is why each state can have different gun control, tax, marriage and import/export laws (just to name a few). The two ways a state can implement these laws is either through a state wide vote or through a Supreme Court decision (at the judiciary level).
What happened in Massachusetts, a state wide vote to legalize same sex marriage, is scaring the rest of Conservative America because when one state passes something into law, usually many (if not all) states follow suit. Also, when a state’s Supreme Court makes a decision in regards to an issue (as in New York and California), that decision becomes state law and other lawyers in other states can cite those cases as legal standings. Thus, there is somewhat of a snowball or domino effect that occurs. This is the same thing that happened when segregation was outlawed via the state case ruling of Brown vs. The Board of Education.
Conservatives say that marriage is a “holy” union between a man and a woman. They also say that it has ties in tradition and religion and primarily use the Bible as their source. There are two problems with this argument. First is the use of the word “holy” and the word “Bible”—both religious terms. Regardless if they choose to accept it or not, conservatives must acknowledge the fact that our country was not founded on religious beliefs but on civil liberties. Our forefathers specifically devised a government that was separated from religion – therefore, people could believe whatever they wanted and still be equal. Why this has come into play now, is beyond me.
One reason is that we currently have a very religious and conservative presidency that literally has the Bible up its butt. Until we recognize that bringing religion into politics is wrong, then our country will continue to stray from out forefathers’ original plan of freedom. Not all of us are going to share in the same religious beliefs. When we say “freedom”, we not only mean freedom from tyranny, persecution an inequality, but, we also mean freedom from religion. One religion’s rules and beliefs can infringe on someone else’s rights – that was the whole purpose of our government being founded the way it was. If a Christian religion believes it is wrong to not go to church on Sundays, they cannot hold that same rule to people who are Muslims, Jews, Atheists, etc. The same goes for marriage beliefs. It makes me wonder what would happen if all of us gay people got together and formed our own Gay Religion where we state that we believe (religiously) in same-sex marriage. Since there is freedom of religion in this country, what would the government do?
But, I digress. In order to understand why some people are against same-sex marriages, we have to examine the reasons. In his website, http://www.bidstrup.com/marriage.htm, pro-gay marriage activist Scott Bishop lists some of these reasons and his provocative thoughts regarding them. I have replied to each one with my own thoughts:
» Marriage is an institution between a man and a woman. — Says who? Most conservatives will cite God, the Bible or their Religion. Once again, I re-iterate the fact that, when it comes to American government and politics, God, the Bible and Religion have nothing to do with it. It may seem harsh, but it is true. It is the only way to ensure that everyone in this country is allowed to share in whatever beliefs they so chose.
» Same-sex couples aren’t the optimum environment in which to raise children. — Two things about this one: Who says every same-sex couple wants to have or adopt children? Secondly, it is not a parent’s sex or sexual orientation that aids in a child’s proper growth – it is how much they love, care and nurture their children that does. If you happen to know any gay people, you will know that they are, many times, the most loving, caring, nurturing people around. Another thought many people share in, is that children of gay people are more likely to grow up and be gay themselves. Do children of architects always grow up to be architects? Do children of straight people grow up to be straight? My parents are straight (as were most people in my life) and I am gay. There is no scientific proof that this theory is true. Besides, being gay is not a choice it is something that we are from day one (more on this topic later).
» Homosexual relationships are immoral. — Once again, according to whom? Please do not say God, the Bible and/or Religion. I think I have shown how and why they are not applicable in this argument. I am getting absolutely sick and tired of people throwing the Bible in the faces of homosexuals. It is our American freedom to not have to believe in what others believe in and our freedom to not be forced to. Deal with it.
» Marriage is for procreation and ensuring the continuation of the species. — Okay, I can see where people who say this are going. But, if we put this into perspective, then that means that infertile couples, women who have had childhood diabetes (where, in many cases, they cannot give birth), couples who blatantly choose not to have children, and others cannot get married either. Hmmm…makes you think.
» Same-sex marriage would threaten the institution of marriage. — Right, and the rising divorce and separation rates, in addition to those of spousal abuse, adultery and people getting re-married after divorce doesn’t threaten it already? This is like the pot calling the kettle black! Our former president was an adulterer; Oprah Winfrey has done shows on couples who are swingers within their Christian Churches, married men who have sex with other married men—on the down low—because their wives won’t do certain things and straight couples who claim that because their partner has changed since their wedding day—they want out of the marriage; Straight sports superstars, movie stars, politicians and the like are busted everyday for cheating on their spouses; The television show “Cheaters” has high ratings…Need I go on? Also, many people claim that all gay people want is sex, sex and more sex and, therefore, we must be sexual deviants! Well, I am gay and I am not driven by sex. I am driven by love, nurturing, family and goals. I want to spend my life with just one person who I love. Gay people have been wrongfully stereotyped. Think about the stereotypes given about your religion, ethnicity, social class, etc. Do you like them? Well, neither do we!
» Marriage is “traditionally” a heterosexual institution. — Yeah, well, traditionally, people who shop lifted were beheaded. Traditions change, meld and morph into new ones. It is the nature of time and history. So, get with the program honeys!
» Same-sex marriage is an untried social experiment. — At one time or another, so was abortion, women voting, child labor, the lottery, etc. At some point, things have to evolve and go from experiment to everyday practice.
» Same-sex marriage would start us down a “slippery slope” towards legalized incest, bestial marriage, polygamy and all kinds of other horrible consequences. — This one is my favorite! People claim that if the government allows same-sex couples to get married, then what is next? People will want to marry their pets, their furniture or, worse, their brothers and sisters. Or they will want to marry more than one person! So, if we allow gay people to marry, then people who fell in love with Billy, the pet goat, will claim that it is unfair! How ridiculous is this? Marriage should be between two people – bottom line. It goes to show what some people will say just to add fuel to the fire.
» Granting homosexuals the right to marry is a “special” right. — Regardless if it is “special” or not – it is still a right.
» Sodomy should be illegal (and was until very recently). — The reason why sodomy (“untraditional sex”, for those who are unclear about the term) finally became legalized is because who is the government to tell people what to do or not do in the privacy of their own homes? Would a straight person want someone telling them that they could not “hit it from behind”? I don’t think so.
» Homosexual marriage would mean forcing businesses to provide benefits to same-sex couples on the same basis as opposite-sex couples. This means that it would have disastrous affects on the insurance, legal and financial industries (to name a few). — That is already happening via the same-sex partner rule. Any same-sex couple, who has been living together for more than a year, can get a certificate stating that they are “partners” and therefore, they can share benefits, retirement, bank accounts, bills and insurance. It has been this way for years in many states and none of the stated industries have suffered. They would actually benefit from it – more business. Believe it or not, most businesses support gay marriage because of the extra revenue it would bring them. Can you imagine the amount of money us gays would spend on a wedding alone? Throw into that insurance, medical, banking, cars, homes, etc. We would spend way more money on things if we were allowed to marry, and businesses know this.
» Homosexual marriage would force churches to marry gay couples. — Not true. Homosexuals are not asking the government to get married in churches. They are simply asking to get married (most likely in courts…or…Vegas).
» Homosexuals just want to legalize same-sex marriage all in an effort to simply be “accepted” by society. — No. We are not looking for acceptance. We do not need it. We just want it to be easier for us to share property, insurance and money while, at the same time, being able to have the same ceremonial memories as straight people. I dream about my wedding day as much as the next person. Is it fair for someone to shatter those dreams all in the name of religion?
» Many people are just not comfortable with the idea. — While this is true, the only way people have ever become “comfortable” with any idea is to become exposed to it, learn to understand it and be educated about it. When people do not understand something, it leads to fear, fear leads to hate, hate leads to prejudice, prejudice leads to riots. (I sound like Yoda.) It all begins with education.
» It offends everything religion stands for. — Religion in general? Whose religion? What if my religious beliefs are not offended by it? In this country, whose religion gets the final say? Aren’t the government’s laws supposed to be free of religion anyway?
» Marriage is a “sacred” institution. — True. But it is up to each couple to define what is sacred about it to them – that is the purpose of vows. Besides, the government has no power to say what is sacred and what is not.
» Gay sex is unnatural. — Gay sex is very unnatural…to many straight people. It is, however, very, very natural to us gay folk. What is unnatural to most of us is straight sex.
» Making love to another man betrays everything that is masculine. Or, vice-versa, making love to another woman betrays everything that is feminine (although it may turn-on many straight men). — Some may believe this to be true. Others, such as me, may not care. Besides, there are many gay men and women who are just as, if not more, masculine or feminine than many straight people. Sexual intercourse has nothing to do with masculinity or femininity.
» The thought of gay sex is repulsive. — Gay sex can be repulsive…to some straight people. It is, however, very, very un-repulsive to us gay folk. What is repulsive to some of us (not including me) is straight sex.
» They might recruit. Or, they might brainwash our children and families because being gay is a “choice”. — We are not the army. I repeat, we are not the army! We do not send out flyers and promise cool key chains and dog tags if you come to a recruiting seminar. Being gay is NOT a choice. It is a way of life. I did not choose to be this way. I was born this way. I may not have known what to call it from day one, but it has always been in me and a part of me. Think about this: If you are straight, why are you attracted to the opposite sex? Did you make a conscious decision to be attracted to their breasts and slender curves or to their six packs and broad shoulders? Or was it just something that was evident in you and just happened – like a born instinct? As straight people, you just know what you are attracted to. You don’t look at a pretty girl or fine guy and think, “I am going to be attracted to them because it is the Christian thing to do.” No, instead you have a split-second reaction and the attraction is, often, instantaneous. The same goes for us gay folk. It is not conscious. It is innate. It is split-second. It is a natural instinct.
Whatever the argument or your opinion is, just remember that this country is all about freedom of religion and freedom from religion AND freedom to believe whatever you want to believe in. As marriage advocate, Bill Dubay, says:
“Will we, GLBTQI Americans, ever see full and equal civil marriage rights? It depends on whom you listen to, of course, but I so strongly believe we will that I consider it inevitable, a foregone conclusion. But I don’t put a timeline on it and the path to achieving full marriage equality is anything but clear and hazard-free.”
Canada is probably the best example of equal rights justice. We should view them as a template for where our government needs to be. They have made every measure to make sure they put aside their religious beliefs and give homosexuals the same rights as everyone else. They have allowed gays to openly enter the military and government and have passed into law the equality of homosexuals in regards to married life. Ms Libby Davies, of Canada’s House of Commons, says it best:
“People are worried about losing their sense of tradition. Rather than…fueling and exploiting that fear, we have a responsibility to tell Canadians that this is not about fear. It is not about something ending. It is about something beginning. It is about extending the celebration of love and commitment into a civil institution of marriage. This is not something we should see as an end. We should see it as a great beginning …”
So, what can you do? Well, when voting time comes around and this issue is placed on your ballot, go into it with an open mind and heart, knowing that religion has no place in your decision. And, until then, check out these sites and sign their petitions because the greatest thing we can do is continue the fight (my mother always told me that all someone can say is “no” and, if they do, ask again!):
© Copyright Brian Jaime and bchrisdesigns, 2005. All Rights Reserved.
This piece of creative prose was written in March of 2005 for the, now defunct, web journal “Pretty Witty”, where I used to write a monthly column entitled “Save a Cow, Kill a Chicken”. It is Part II of a two part series I did exploring the debate over gay marriage. (You can find Part I here.) I am not sure if the links in this piece are even still accessible, but the message of the piece is what I wanted to convey here. While it is dated, some of the information here is still relevant. And, it is, in a way, humorous and enlightening (IMPO). So, enjoy and let me know what you think! Remember, this is merely an opinion piece and nothing more. I have also included supporting references.