Marriage and Evolution
There are an astonishing number of Americans who still don’t believe that two consenting adults should have the right to form a legal contract, which is what marriage is, in the eyes of the law. I realize that religious people believe it’s first and foremost a sacrament before God, and that is their right. But I promise you that no priest, minister, rabbi or imam is going to perform that ceremony unless they see that license, issued by the state. The arguments against marriage equality aren’t legal ones, they’re all from the religious perspective. I don’t think any of them stand up to closer scrutiny, but let’s look at them anyway.
Marriage has always been between a man and a woman. Those arguing this point will usually point back to the Bible, which they apparently haven’t read. In I Kings 11:3 we learn that Solomon had over 700 wives and about 300 concubines. Examples from the period are numerous, and it made sense then. Lots of men were being killed in battle, so the rest had to sow as much seed as they could.
The Bible says homosexuality is Baaad! Yes, Leviticus calls it an abomination. And right along with it are other abominations, like eating shellfish or wearing a cloth made from two different fabrics, all stonable offenses. You can’t just pick one abomination and ignore all the rest. This ain’t no cafeteria. Go throw rocks at Red Lobster and The Gap.
It would change the definition of marriage. That definition has changed many times in its history. In the example above, that definition would be one man and as many women as he could buy (What? You thought they were all free?). In Deuteronomy 22:28, a man who sees a pretty, unbetrothed virgin, can “lay hold on her, and lie with her.” If they be found, he has to pay her father 50 shekels, and she becomes his wife (if they be found?). So in this case, marriage is defined as one man and his rape victim. All through the Old Testament, men married slaves, their brother’s widow, or captives of battle. Here in the U.S. marriage was one man and one woman. That they were of the same race was implicit, as inter-racial marriage, called miscegenation, was illegal, until Loving v Virginia in 1965.
Marriage is only for the bearing of children. Utter nonsense; marriage is more than ever about loving someone. Pumping out units is a natural by product of that union. Old people marry who can’t have children, others choose not to. And what happens if a woman needs a hysterectomy for medical reasons? Is that to be grounds for divorce? A related argument is that gay people can’t produce children. This is true, and it’s why they adopt them, if they’re allowed to.
Let them have civil unions, just not marriage. I hear this from many people, good and decent folks. They believe that gay people should be able to form that legal contract, but marriage is “for us,” and besides, they can have civil unions. No, they can’t, in many states. Even if they could, there are over 1000 federal provisions and legal protections available to married people that civil unions don’t get, such as visiting a dying spouse in hospital, or inheritance. Many people don’t know this. But let’s say that civil unions did have all the protections of marriage. That should be good enough for “them.” Well, it’s not good enough for me. When a class of people are denied the same rights the rest of us have, that’s unconstitutional, a violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.
Gay marriage would tarnish/defile/diminish the institution of marriage. This one may be the silliest of them all. First, there is no such thing as ‘gay marriage,’ there is only marriage. I cannot understand how two men or two women who wish to celebrate dedicating their lives to each other, has anything at all to do with anyone else’s marriage. It’s completely ridiculous. This is somehow a mockery of the institution of marriage, but a man and woman married by an Elvis impersonator at a drive-thru chapel in Las Vegas is not? Are you kidding me?
The hysteria that next, people will be marrying their dogs and cats, is both too ignorant and insulting to merit comment. Equally absurd are the claims that gays want special rights and privileges. That’s not true, either. They want the SAME rights and privileges as the rest of us, that’s all.
I think all the arguments against marriage equality fall flat. I can understand that many people have a problem with this; much of it is due to our cultural and social conditioning. But these people need to realize that this is the 21st Century, not the Bronze Age. With each new poll, we can see more Americans’ attitudes have evolved (if you don’t believe in evolution, I can only say that some things are true whether you believe them or not). A March Pew Research poll showed that 70% of Americans born after 1980 (our future) support it. And The American Academy of Pediatrics just endorsed it, as well. They’ve had many opportunities to see children of same-sex parents, and they seem to be doing just fine, thank you.
As I’m writing this, fifty years ago this week were the civil rights demonstrations that rocked Birmingham, Alabama, continuing through March, with as many as 200,000 protesters. Police beatings, dogs and fire hoses, it was a very ugly scene. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was heavily involved with the movement, and it was during those days that he wrote Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Many religious leaders had approached him and begged him to wait, wait. It’s too soon, they said. Now was not the time. We heard his answer in a speech he gave days later: “Now is the time to move our nation from the quicksand of racial discrimination to the solid rock of humanity.” Black Americans today are still struggling against discrimination, as are women, or anyone with dark skin and peculiar headgear. Evidently, some people are evolving at a different rate than others.
Why should gay people be denied the obligation of having to visit the in-laws on Thanksgiving, or nasty divorce and custody battles? I don’t know how they could possibly damage the institution of marriage any more than straight people have already done.
Marriage equality is the big civil rights issue of today. Nine states, and the District of Columbia, have passed marriage equality laws. France, Argentina, The Netherlands, Spain, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, South Africa, and New Zealand have done the same. It’s here to stay, and it’s about time. Those who disagree risk being — and I love this expression — on the wrong side of history. Now is the time.
“Being gay is natural. Hating gays is a lifestyle choice.” — comedian John Fugelsang