Public Radio yesterday covered the story of the conservative fight in New Jersey to pass a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. I've taken my swipe at this subject before, but like a cat that won't stay run over the topic keeps getting up again, and my irritation and contempt follow accordingly.
I fail to understand how opposition to homosexuality comes to lodge itself in a person's mind, especially as an activist cause. An opposition to, say, socialism is a stance I can at least grasp: one might argue that it removes incentives for productivity and creativity, promotes sloth, etc. Opposition to abortion I can see in concept, if not the insistence that no one else see the issue differently.
But being gay? I just don't get the motivation for such foaming-at-the-mouth opposition. What are they afraid of exactly? That our acceptance will cause more people to become gay? That's an absurd idea to anyone with even minimal science education about sexual behavior; but even if we grant it, what then? Will it deplete our population? Is it a fear that decriminalized propositions might cause straight folks to falter and... sample the dark side? Is it just that one or another bible prohibits it (presumably from a five-thousand-years-ago perspective where procreation was needed to keep the church's coffers full in perpetuity) and to allow it now is to invoke this or that god's wrath? Or are the church elders agitating so that their whole house of cards does not come down in the mighty wind?
Well, what rationale is given? Here, from NPR's story, is Victoria Cobb, executive director of the Family Foundation of Virginia: "This is about so much more than two individuals who might love each other but don't happen to be a man and a woman. This is about redefining an institution that has been a bedrock of society for all of history." As though there were no families until her church invented church marriage! As though civilization is teetering on the edge of dissolution without her efforts. What does "redefining an institution" even mean? Sorry, but that's just appallingly ignorant.
Cobb claims her real goal is (you knew it was coming)... protecting children. "We know from social research that traditional family structure is the best place that children can possibly be raised." Social research! I'd love to hear her definition of research. I'm suspicious she hasn't even the dimmest grasp of the scientific method or, for that matter, of what is or isn't the "bedrock of society for all of history." What other child-rearing structures did she look into? How thoroughly has she combed the data about children raised with two loving same-sex parents? Did she look at single-parent households and weed out other factors like economics? Did she look at children raised in poor heterosexual households where there is little education? Her citation of "research" smacks of the kind of pseudo-science these groups always apply, in pursuit of promoting, in the nauseating and meaningless cotton-candy phrase, "family values."
But back to the larger question. How does allowing gays to marry alter in any way our own heterosexual marriages? What is the nature of the degradation feared? What will be different for us? How is a kiss from my wife changed because two married men are kissing next to me? Why devote untold hours to ban others from being able to do what you yourself do not want to do? Where is the honor in preventing others from making their decisions?
I will venture this opinion again: there is nothing in the world less in need of protection than male / female pair bonding. To believe there is a threat here requires throwing out billions of years of animal procreation (but hey, the earth after all is only 6,000 years old). Capital-M Marriage is a religious institution. And if one's particular Jesus tells one thru the Secret Mind Meld that the church ought not sanction same sex marriage, well and good: make sure the church doesn't perform the ceremony. But what began as church marriage has evolved into a legal institution that has nothing to do with religion--why else are we fighting it as a legal battle?--and as such we must ensure that no governmental entity is pushing any religious agenda (not that gay marriage opponents sympathize with this tenet of the Constitution). Homosexuality is a fact of life, in our species and all other sexual species; it was not invented in recent times, and it will not go away with a big enough hammer.
We seem much more likely to do damage by allowing people with no functional education to vote.
I know a lot of gay people. I know a lot of Christians who are not trying to hurt gay people. I even know a few gay Christians (which strikes me as laying with the lions). Anyway, I have seen absolutely no grounding for thinking that gay people are any less functional or less moral or less decent or less steadfast in relationships or less sexually normal than any of the heterosexuals I know. Sexual orientation just doesn't seem to be a marker for any meaningful thing if we're not already armed with a bunch of preconceptions. How many gay people does Victoria Cobb know? How many are her close friends? Would she refuse to befriend someone who was gay? Because they were gay? Why would we tolerate this or listen to such a person?