February 2005 (re-edited September 2013)
The fact that 11 American states passed initiatives opposed to Gay Marriage makes my stomach turn. It screws up into little knots and I want to throw up. The thought of 86% of the voters of any state (even Mississippi) voting to ‘defend heterosexual marriage’ makes me want to get on the first bus to Canada.
But I’m here for the duration.
When you think about it, the effort to legalize same-sex marriage is as much about freedom from violence as it is anything else. That’s just the bare minimum any human being can demand. Freedom from violence posits equal access to those institutions available to others. Even if those institutions are kinda screwed up. Furthermore, one could argue that insofar as same sex relationships are not legally recognized, there will be a persistent context for gays and lesbians to continue suffering high levels of vigilante violence and institutional discrimination. In other words, if the state doesn’t recognize the fundamental right of gays and lesbians to live openly and legally in love, why should some peckerhead?
So, even though the institution of marriage is screwy, and I respect the argument by some radical gay and lesbian activists that one should not be in the business of joining an institution that enshrines inequality, I have to respect the audacity of San Francisco et. al., in carrying out those very public ceremonies last summer. The power of the state is awesome, and having it on the side of gay and lesbian marriage—regardless of the baggage that goes with the institution of marriage—is a good thing. That said, I do not agree with the notion that gay and lesbian marriage is ‘just like’ heterosexual marriage and therefore innocuous. On the contrary. I think gay marriage does undermine the sanctity of heterosexual marriage.
Only I like the idea!
People hate gays not because God tells them so, not because gays are wrongly stereotyped as pedophiles and not because they undermine Christian values. People hate homosexuality first because gay and lesbian relationships challenge male supremacy. And this goes way back to the former status of women as property of men.
Now I know, in today’s modern world there is no consignment of women to the property of men consecrated in the civil act of marriage. But have you been to a wedding lately? It’s not just that gender stereotypes have made a comeback since the glory days of the failed 60s sexual revolutions, it is that they are newly triumphant in their reclaimed central role. The world view of the typical homophobe is the world view of the predominant American male: an attic full of GI Joes and Barbie dolls. This is the first cause here, the first principle from which everything else flows. Clinging tightly to their dolls, and the dolls clinging tightly to them, these people then go looking around for reasons to support their world view. Facts that don’t fit in are cast aside, irrelevant. That’s not a misunderstanding, and it’s not, primarily about projection or denial or scapegoating. That’s a defense of a way of life. And that’s why Pat Buchanan calls this a culture war.
And he’s right; only I’m on the other side.
Here’s what’s implicitly understood whenever a man directs his loathing at gay sex: homosexual relations of any form directly challenge male control over female sexual power. The superglue that exists among men to control women’s reproductive and labor power is directly challenged by other men and women who opt out of this arrangement (Except, perhaps, in the case of Roy Cohn, but let’s set that aside for now). Is it any wonder that the response is a visceral as it often is? That’s why, fundamentally, gay marriage is opposed. It’s not about any opposition rooted in a primordial need to reproduce the species, and it’s not about a gene that ‘causes’ heterosexuality (genetic destiny, hardwired heterosexuality), and it’s certainly not about God ‘cleaving’ a man and a woman and writing his instructions on some tablets (religious justification). All of this comes second. No amount of evidence to the contrary will change the minds of these people. And no amount of ‘mainstreaming’ will ever win gays a victory at the ballot box. No, we are definitely moving away from challenging core myths about gender relations. And because this is what comes first, we can expect more of the worst.
Ultimately, however, my opinion about this is that any consensual arrangements between living, sentient, thinking people are good in my book. And the state and Dr. Dobson should keep their grubby hands off those lovers. And because I’ve seen more love between two queens in a disco than I ever have at a breeder wedding ceremony, I support gay marriage. And I won’t give up promoting it for the support of ‘values voters.’