Originally posted August 2004

Credits: Thanks go to Lou, Bob, George, & Ian, for input and answers to difficult questions

My May Firestarter, Why not Same-sex Marriage? prompted some wonderfully fascinating discussion.

I've been told by a friend this is the hardest he's ever thought about issues like this. He thanked me for encouraging that, even as he half-laughingly, half-irritatedly added he just hated when I asked the hard questions!

I also received more "arguments" as to why people didn't like the idea of gay marriage. With thanks to those who kept me informed, I continue — and conclude, as I think this is enough on this subject — the pro-tolerance FAQ.

Marriage Ceremony: An incredible metaphysical sham of watching God and the law being dragged into the affairs of your family.
O. C. Ogilvie

Arguments

  1. Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, not an inherited trait
  2. America is ruled by majority, so whatever the majority says is wrong shouldn't be allowed
  3. Homosexual couples can't be a "nuclear family," and kids need that
  4. Homosexuality is an attack on society
  5. Homosexuals are destroying the institution of marriage
  6. What's next? Bestiality/ polyamory/ incest/ whatever?
  7. Same-sex marriage brings no benefit to society; not allowing same-sex marriage does.

(links will become "live" as the posts go up on sequential days; thank you for your patience!)

I'm trying to keep my answers really short, as I was berated for labeling the May Firestarter's "collection of essays" a FAQ.

I've consequently discovered it's far too easy to be either thoughtful and sensitive but long-winded… or concise, but also potentially dismissive or flippant sounding.

I don't know if it works, but I'm going to try my best for concise without rudeness. I also give some closing comments at the end. Enjoy!

[The] idealization of marriage is typical of those who are excluded from it: priests, gays, adolescents. It shows an extraordinary willful blindness.
Michael Warner, "The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics, and the Ethics of Queer Life" (1999)

Answers

1. Homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, not an inherited trait

The "cause" of homosexuality (like the "cause" of that peculiar aberration, monogamy [text-only version]) is a hotly debated point I'm not going to cover here. I'll just point out lifestyle choice is what the US is all about. As long as only consenting adults are involved, what you do in the privacy of your own home is your own business.

In the US I can dye my hair vivid colors, be of whatever religion I choose, have multiple piercings or tattoos, wear strange and unusual clothes, be a vegetarian — all these things are lifestyle choices, not inherited traits.

So homosexuality is a lifestyle choice… so what? Are we going to pick and choose now how people must live their lives? Isn't that what the Taliban did? Do we really want to imitate them?

It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.

Giordano Bruno(1548 – burned at the stake 1600)

2. American is ruled by majority, so whatever the majority says is wrong shouldn't be allowed

This is a frighteningly un-American statement.

The original European settlers came here to live how they wished. Throughout the last two centuries in the US, legal precedent has overwhelmingly been to protect the rights of the minority, not to inflict majority rule.

We can thank majority rule for the election of Hitler, the murder of unknown numbers of Mayan Indians in Guatemala, the Rwandan genocide of the minority Tutsis by the Hutu majority, the "ethnic cleansing" against Kosovo's Serbs… the list is, unfortunately, almost endless.

The tyranny of the majority is comfortingly safe only when you're part of the majority. For those of you smugly noting you are, remember there was a time when the majority believed in the moral rightness of slavery, the divine right of kings, the abandonment of unwanted children, and the second-class status of women.

Don't assume you'll always be in the majority — and only do to someone else what you would want done to you.

Love is moral even without legal marriage, but marriage is immoral without love.

Ellen Key, Swedish social feminist circa 1900

3. Homosexual couples can't be a "nuclear family," and kids need that

If by "nuclear family" you mean a breeding couple and offspring, then unfortunately history puts the lie to this assertion. Polygamy and related tribes were the standard forms of family long before this "one female-one male-living all alone" thing came about. Extended families (polygamous and otherwise) still exist today, so they must be doing something right for the kids, if they've not all died out yet.

Today, studies show those extended, sometimes polygamous families were the right answer — kids need loving, involved adults in their lives. Who doesn't matter: blood parents, adopted parents (of either gender), a collection of close friends, grandparents, someone else entirely. A loving home is more important than, say, a house with two married people in it who hate each other but are staying together "for the kids."

A final consideration: who will tell those loving, caring adults their healthy, happy kids are somehow inadequate — simply because the kids don't bear their genetics? Not me. I wouldn't be that mean-spirited to either those adults or their kids. They're doing fine, and more power to them.

How is it that a society that will watch "Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire" in huge numbers would reject unions between committed couples? Which is the greater mockery of marriage?

Adrian Walker, "The Boston Globe," 3/9/00

4. Homosexuality is an attack on society

This one really amuses me. I get mental images of gays sitting around basements with scribbled slogans and maps on the cement walls, plotting madly about how to most effectively tear down society.

This argument misses one important point — homosexuals have to live here. Why would anyone destroy the house they're living in? Furthermore, homosexuals aren't calling for the end of society — they're trying to join it, by participating in and supporting its rituals.

For those who answer my question above by stating homosexuals ignore the facts and are dangerously illogical, I am reminded of Jesus' words in John 8:7, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."

If divorce has increased by one thousand percent, don't blame the women's movement. Blame the obsolete sex roles on which our marriages were based.

Betty Naomi Friedan

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