11.14.2008

Gay Marriage

The surprising passage of Proposition 8 in my home state of California has left much of the United States, if not the world, in a state of shock. Although I moved out of California several years ago to continue my education and career, I still consider myself a Californian -- 5th generation native, at that. My parents still live in the Golden State, and thanks to networking sites like Facebook I am still in touch with many of my friends from high school and undergrad who live and work there.

A quick diversion into my background. My father is an ordained minister in both the Southern and American Baptist denominations. Both of my parents are fairly conservative, and while I was raised with a childhood where I was never allowed to believe in Santa Claus (Christmas is about Christ), the Easter Bunny (Easter is about Jesus' resurrection), Halloween (celebration of evil), and other such things, my folks did raise me to think for myself. Even if what I think differs from their opinions. I am still a strong Christian, but a liberal-minded one.

I am a professional musician. I think this predisposes me to being around more openly gay people than perhaps others. And after several years of working alongside openly gay people, I have solidified one important thing:

Gay or straight, people are people.

I don't classify my friends as gay or straight, just as I don't classify them by race, religion, ethnicity, or any thing else. They are my friends. And on behalf of them, I am embarrassed to be a Californian.

The arguments against same-sex marriage I have seen have me shaking my head in confusion and sorrow. When did such lunacy masquerade as intelligent thought?

1. Gay marriage will undermine the "institution of marriage." How? Like the astronomical divorce rate amongst heterosexual marriage hasn't already done that? It seems to me that this argument was raised with interracial marriage was a hot topic 40 years ago. And they were wrong then, too.

2. If we allow gays to marry, then polygamists and pedophiles will want to marry too. I have actually seen this argument in a political cartoon published nationally and available on free internet sites. I shit you not. I was furious when I saw it, and then saw a "comment" to the cartoon that not only complimented the cartoonist, but said "...and anyone else who claims they were born this way..." Empirical evidence (a.k.a., scientific research) is increasingly showing that sexual orientation IS genetic. So, yeah, they were born that way. Get over it.

3. If we allow gays to marry, we have to teach gay sex in sex ed classes. Ok, number one: there was nothing in the court ruling that allowed gays to marry in CA that required gay sex be part of sex ed (although it may not be a bad idea, given the STD rate amongst gays). Number two: CA law already allows parents to pull their kids out of classes if something is being taught that the parents have issues with. For example, creationism or evolution. Sex ed in general. Calculus. Number three: the no-on-8 folks were supported by every major educator in the state (i.e., the state's Education Secretary, etc.).

4. It isn't natural. How can it NOT be natural? No one is FORCING these people to sleep with same-sex partners! Ok, fellow straights: think about your "type." Then we'll put 10 people in front of you who all fit your "type." How many will you actually be attracted to? One? Two? It's a chemistry thing, a how we are wired thing. Gays are no different.

Who are we to decide anything for anyone else based on nothing more than morals or opinions? Gay people are no different than straights, with the exception of what they choose to do in their personal, private lives. I know *I* don't want the government -- or anyone else, for that matter -- telling me who I can or can't sleep with (as long as they are consenting adults, of course) or how I have sex.

How would straights like it if legislation was passed by blondes preventing dark-haired people from marrying non-dark-haired people, because it was ruining genetic lines? Or if able-bodied people passed legislation that said disabled people were not allowed to marry? What if we said protestant Christians couldn't marry Catholics, Jews, athesists, any sort of non-protestant Christian? Or we went back 40 years and made interracial marriage illegal? But of course we would never do that, because it is discriminatory!!

Oh, wait.

We just said gays couldn't marry because... because... because... I'm waiting to hear a reason that doesn't involve someone forcing their morals on someone else.

What do gays want by marrying? I do hear this question, and it shows how much straights don't know about marriage and what they gained by marrying someone. These things include, but are not limited to:

Tax benefits

Joint mortgages, car loans, etc.

Health insurance

Hospital rights -- news flash to the straights, since gay relationships are not recognized, when a gay person is hospitalized hospitals have the right to deny visitation to "non-family members," as well as decisions about care. Many gays are estranged from their family because of their orientation, yet that family will make the health decisions instead of the partner. Would you want someone you haven't talked to in 3, 5, 10 years or more deciding if you got life-saving surgery or not?

Right to provide a loving, two-parent home for children

Divorce protection


Ok, I know it seems odd to be pushing for gay marriage and then talk about divorce. But let's be honest here -- people will get divorced regardless of their orientation. I have a dear, close friend who was in a gay relationship for over 11 years. When his partner threw him out of the house, he spent the next three years watching his credit be destroyed as the house they had bought together as loan co-signers went into foreclosure. He had to start over because there was no divorce proceeding to determine division of joint belongings. He was thrown out with essentially a couple of suitcases of clothing. The furniture, housewares, towels, sheets, even their beloved dogs, all stayed with the ex. And my friend had absolutely no legal recourse because their relationship was not recognized by the courts.

What it comes down to is fear and misunderstanding. We run away from what we don't understand. And rather than trying to understand, the people of California voted to discriminate against gays, denying valued, hard-working members of society basic, fundamental rights that every other person, every other minority, has. We should be ashamed of ourselves. I know people in California treat their mini-dogs, their designer pooches, better than they treat people who probably live in their own neighborhood.

To those against gay marriage -- who tend to be the same people who think Obama will make the US a socialist society -- I say, keep good on your threat to move to Canada! Because, guess what? Gay marriage is legal there. So much for the US being world leaders. We've been exposed as the uptight, puritanical people that we are, and it isn't flattering.

I dare you: the next time you have the opportunity to pull the lever on legislation that could outlaw something for someone -- anyone, not just gay marriage -- ask yourself "what if it was me?" Or, if you prefer, "What would Jesus do?"

Old Testament:
"Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself." Leviticus 19:18

"But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt." Leviticus 19:34

Words of Christ:
"He [a lawyer] said unto him [Christ], What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself." Luke 10:26-27

Then read the parable of the Good Samaritan.

And then tell Jesus how you thought it was appropriate to deny someone else the right to live as you do, how you passed up the opportunity to minister to others. I'm sure He'll be very interested in your answer.

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