Condemnation of homosexual marriages cluttered with outdated stereotypes, hypocritical assumptions

    Last month, the justices of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that their state cannot deny the right of homosexuals to marry, and gave the Massachusetts Legislature six months to take the necessary steps to effectuate the ruling. Massachusetts joins Ontario, British Columbia, Belgium and the Netherlands in legalizing gay marriage. Similarly, Vermont recognizes homosexual unions, and many other states and countries, including California, are quickly moving toward more equal treatment of heterosexual and homosexual relationships.

    In other words, a revolution is nigh ‹ a purple-clad, hair-gelled, designer-clothed revolution. And it’s fabulous. So much so that America can barely control the fabulousness. Naturally, members of the American right wing have quickly set down their Bibles and raised both fists to fight the decision.

    Let’s be frank. When it comes to homosexuals, American lawmakers generally have the mindset of 13-year-old boys. They’re blinded by their extreme, oppressive heterosexuality, and thus have trouble realizing that homosexuals exist. When they acknowledge gays and lesbians, it’s usually a backhanded insult ‹ the equivalent of that 13-year-old boy whispering “”sissy”” to a hated classmate in a middle school hallway.

    President Bush, for example, has reached into his grab bag of rhetoric and buzzwords, condemning the decision in Massachusetts on the grounds that allowing homosexual marriage would destroy “”the sanctity of marriage.”” However, he’s ignoring a small but crucial detail: Marriage has no sanctity in the first place. The National Center for Health Statistics estimates, for example, that between 43 and 50 percent of couples divorce within 15 years of being married, and this percentage rises with the number of years after the wedding. And in the book “”The Monogamy Myth,”” Peggy Vaughn writes, “”Conservative estimates are that 60 percent of men and 40 percent of women will have an extramarital affair.””

    So, in principle, marriage is all fine and dandy and lifelong, but in reality, Americans are subverting the whole purpose of marriage by cheating on their spouses and getting divorced. Yet President Bush defends the supposed “”sanctity”” of the institution from homosexuals who will somehow hurt these dysfunctional, failing heterosexual marriages by having weddings of their own. He must be living in a fantasy land.

    If heterosexuals are allowed to have tacky weddings, sordid extramarital affairs and angry, expensive divorces, then homosexuals should too. Or, as gay columnist Dan Savage quips, “”Considering how miserable weddings seem to make straight people ‹ the work, the expense, the seemingly inevitable conflicts with your parents, the 50 percent chance of a divorce ‹ shouldn’t people who don’t like gay people want us to get married, just to make us miserable?””

    If Bush and other conservatives are truly concerned with protecting “”the sanctity of marriage,a they should work toward outlawing divorce and making infidelity illegal. After all, there are no greater attacks on the spirit of marriage than outright failure of the relationship or cheating on one’s spouse.

    Yet they’re not condemning divorce and infidelity, they’re condemning homosexuals for their perceived threat to traditional unions. In reality, these attacks on the marriage rights of homosexuals come down to simple homophobia, and Bush and other conservatives are simply hiding their bigotry and ignorance under a veil of fundamentalist Christianity and “”protecting the sanctity of marriage.”” Hate is hate, even if it’s cloaked in rhetoric or Christianity.

    Furthermore, homosexual relationships will never disappear, so America might as well acknowledge them. And while we’re at it, we should learn to appreciate diversity and learn a little lesson about love and alternative lifestyles. As evidenced by shows like Bravo’s “”Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,”” America is learning to acknowledge that gay men happen to have an unflappable sense of style. It’s only natural that we now learn that these same stylish gay men fall in love and want to get married, just like heterosexuals.

    A ban on homosexual unions makes marriage, as recognized by law, a discriminatory institution dictated by hate and homophobia instead of love and commitment, as it’s supposed to be. It makes marriage irrelevant to an increasingly powerful group of Americans. It bastardizes the idea of a loving, lifelong union by saying that lifelong, loving unions are wholly dependent on the ability to breed.

    Yes, breeding. From a practical standpoint, marriage is simply a social institution put in place to channel our biological impulses into producing copious numbers of children raised by two parents in a stable environment. Implicitly, love is merely the icing on the cake, as children are the real cement of, and reason for, marriage.

    Many heterosexual married couples would rightfully take offense to this interpretation of their union, of course. “”We didn’t marry each other to breed like rabbits,”” they’d say. “”We love each other, and we wanted to have our love recognized by the law, announced to everybody, immortalized on paper.”” Exactly ‹ that’s what gays and lesbians do, too. Marriage as a heterosexuality-based baby-making machine is outdated, narrow, and, in today’s world, extremely insulting.

    When Bush says that the only proper marriage is between one man and one woman, he’s very clearly viewing marriage as an institution put forth to promote procreation. In this view, all married couples should be required to have children, and the increasing number of childless marriages is shameful and destroys the sanctity of marriage.

    When Sen. Rick Santorum (R – Pa.) said that “”every civilization since the beginning of man has recognized the need to protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman,”” he conveniently ignored Ontario, British Columbia, the Netherlands and Belgium, where gay marriages are legal, and Vermont, which recognizes civil unions. Have any of these societies collapsed from their terrible indiscretion? Hardly, and the lucky homosexuals in these places must be thrilled that their governments recognize their committed relationships.

    In accordance with Santorum’s view, Bush talks of introducing a constitutional amendment to forever restrict marriage to heterosexual couples. Tamara Fraser writes on Salon.com, “”This would be the first constitutional amendment that denies rights, rather than grants them.””

    So Bush, as the leader of a country that prides itself on being fair and open, is aching to change the Constitution to restrict citizens’ rights based solely on their sexuality. Is that the equality and freedom that our founding fathers envisioned?

    Conservative gay pundit Andrew Sullivan invoked both religion and the civil rights struggle when he wrote in response to the Massachusetts decision, “”Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”” As virtually the only gay-friendly conservative around, he’s in a strange place right now ‹ and so are all of America’s gays. Will more favorable decisions follow the Massachusetts ruling, or will our country retreat back to the security and ease of narrowness, homophobia, fundamentalist Christianity, and “”protecting the sanctity of marriage?””

    The road to hell is surely not paved with homosexual marriages, so let’s stop acting like it is. We need more committed relationships, not the condemnation of some of these relationships because they occur between members of the same sex. Not only gay Americans, but all Americans should be cheered by the decision in Massachusetts ‹ when our society is more free, open, and accepting of those who don’t fit the norm, everyone benefits, even President Bush and his conservative cronies.

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