Gay Bridezilla Explains It All
2004-02-26 - 11:41 a.m.
For obvious reasons, the issue of same-sex marriage is still in my head. I couldn't escape it if I wanted to. So I decided that I would try to use this space to answer a few questions that people who are unsure about or simply against same-sex marriage have been asking. I'm putting them up here so that anyone reading this who supports gay marriage will have a few answers ready, or at least be able to say, "Well, my favorite online diarist says . . . "
1. Shouldn't the marriage be defined exclusively by religious institutions, with the state not being involved at all?
I am totally comfortable with marriage being defined and controlled exclusively by religious institutions. After all, if that policy were to be enacted tomorrow I could find a husband and get married, because a number of ministers in the more liberal branches of Christianity and Judaism are willing to perform same-sex marriages, and for that matter I could always have a service performed by a Wiccan.
However, this would mean that the government would have to remove itself completely from the marriage business. The state would not be able to issue marriage licenses, to grant citizenship to immigrants on the basis of being married to an American citizen, to require that married couples only be able to adopt children, to take marriage into account during tax season, or to enact any legislation supporting or denouncing marriages of any kind.
So, yeah, actually, I have no problem with--wait a minute, I just realized that this would invalidate any marriages between atheists. Well, of course, the "validity" of any marriage could be called into question, so let's go ahead and put this option aside for now.
2. Don't you believe that this country was founded on a Christian morality?
Nope. No, I do believe the First Amendment is in there for a reason. While I do think that Christianity has had a huge influence in Western thought, the freedom of religion is one of the first four guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. It is there to ensure that no one religious group will oppress another. Let me remind you: Wiccans accept same-sex marriage. It is part of their religion. In fact, many people believe that the strictures against homosexuality that one finds in the Bible are a direct response to same-sex practices in cultures that practiced goddess-worship. Dressing up as a woman and making love to a man were seen as a way for men to get closer to the goddess. As a devout Christian or Muslim or Jew or whatever, you don't have to like homosexuality. But you have to respect that the document that guarantees you the freedom to discriminate is the same one that grants me the right to participate in a religion that doesn't hate. This includes getting married in that church.
3. Every religion and every culture has opposed same-sex marriages from the beginning. Why should be start now?
Okay, did you READ the last paragraph? Do you need me to tell you about the numerous African and Native American tribes that have condoned marriage among people with the same genitals, provided one partner is willing to accept the identity of "the husband" and "the wife." Also, if we're going to talk culture and history, then we're going to have to talk about the fact that polygamy was and still is a part of many cultures. There are still people in this country who profess to be Christian and who have multiple marriages in the belief that this will bring them closer to God.
Marriage has, for centuries, been as much about property rights and having children as it has been about anything else. I think it's about time that we let people who are in love have the chance to get married, as well.
4. You talk about those who are opposed to same-sex marriage as being hatefuln and bigoted. I'm a Christian, and I am doing this out of faith. Can't you understand that I don't do this out of hatred? Can't you allow that I am doing what I feel is right?
Yes, you are doing what you feel is right, and I am sure there is no hatred in your heart when you do so. This does not change the fact that you are bigoted, that you are doing this out of fear, if not hatred, and that you are wrong.
Recently, I saw the HBO movie Iron Jawed Angels, about the struggle to pass an amendment enfranchising American women. The leader of this struggle was Alice Paul. She and I have a lot in common. We are both Penn graduates, and we share a birthday. I did a report on her in high school before I had even applied to Penn or found out about the birthday connection. The film, unfortunately, isn't that great; it suffers from an attempt to modernize it, making it about girl power rather than feminism. However, I was inspired as I watched what Alice Paul had to face.
One thing that I found particularly interesting was the way in which many men argued that women should not be given the right to vote in order to protect them. These men, in warm and generous tones, argued that women had enough to deal with in raising the American family, and that to allow them to vote would be to expose them to the corruption and viciousness of politics, which would stain their pure character and hurt their delicate nature. They didn't hate women, or feel that they were doing wrong by them. They were, however, disempowering women, treating them as in some way lesser than them. When these women took to the streets, you could see the anger boiling up in the eyes of men. They were afraid.
Of course, since then, there have been plenty of women who have proven themselves just as self-serving and ignorant in their voting and involvement in politics as men, but that's entirely beside the point. The point is that if a man can vote regardless of his ability, intelligence, or spirit, then so should any woman.
I am sure those who oppose gay marriage believe they are protecting marriage. The truth is, they are cheapening it, making it a commodity that can be given out exclusively to those the government deems worthy. It's the same thing that our govenrment did with slave marriages for centuries, and with interracial marriages well into this century. You can love a woman, or be fond of a person of color, without considering their rights. It's gone on in this country since day one.
5. How can you compare the same-sex marriage movement to the civil-rights movements undertaken by women or people of color? They have had so much more to struggle with than you!
Ah, this old chestnut. Yes, let's all play the "Who's been oppressed the most?" game. It's easy, it's fun, and the winner is always the same: the status quo.
Alright, if you wanna play, let's play. For millenia, various nations and religions have considered homosexual intercourse an offense punishable by death. Not a fine, or even a flogging. Death. One of the more noteworthy instances of this literally murderous form of discrimination is the Bible. Another notable example is the slaughter of homosexuals by Adolf Hitelr--along with Jews, people of Roma descent, and the handicapped--in the 20th Century. It was not until the 19th Century that people began questioning these laws, although, granted, those with enough power and privilege had secret gay lovers for centuries, much as the current governor of Texas has apparently had. In some nations, it was taken off the books altogether. In others, the sentences were reduced. Oscar Wilde himself served a sentence of three years hard labor, in prison, for having gay sex. Sodomy laws were officially declared unconstitutional in our own United States in . . . alright, I always forget this date . . . no, wait, don't tell me . . . wait, I got it LAST YEAR! So, in other words, I have been breaking the law in my country ever since the age of 17 when I lost it to my boyfriend in the back of my Mazda 626 (I miss that car). It didn't matter whether it was a horny frat guy I met at a party or the love of my young life, I was breaking the law by having sex, and there were indeed people willing to punish me for it. None of this, of course, changes the fact that the illegal murder of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and the transgender is still going on today. Has it been so long since Matthew Shepherd was lynched?
But wait, the game's not over. If I am unfortunate enough to fall in love with a foreign national, my husband will not get the same citizenship status as anyone involved in a heterosexual marriage with a foreign national. In other words, marriage confers citizenship, and without same-sex marriage, not everyone who should be an American citizen will be. That is disenfranchisement on a very fundamental level.
Now, in a race with slavery and segregation, with not being able to vote or hold property for centuries, with the taking of land by genocide, would the struggle for queer rights win? Eh, maybe not. But I think it would place, and moreover I think it's important to understand that the only Americans being served by making the argument that some people are more oppressed than others are white, male, Christian, BIGOTED Americans. As long as those in power can convince us that there's only so much pie to go around, that gyas and lesbians and African Americans and latinos and women and everyone else are all going to have to fight it, then we're never getting anywehre. If we stand together, remind them that there are more of us than there are of them, and demand to see the extra pies that we know they have stashed in the back, THEN real change is going to happen. This will require queer people getting over their racism, people of color getting over their homophobia, and everyone getting over their gender issues. Once it happens, though, we will be unstoppable.
6. Alright, RRZ, I'm all about change, but this issue? Right here, right now? Don't you think this is all just Bush trying to distract us from the other issues? Don't you think there are more important issues?
Oh, I wholeheartedly agree. I absolutely think that this is Bush trying to make this election about something other than the hideous job he has done as a president. I can't even count how many things I think of as being more pressing than same-sex marriage. First of all, in case you people haven't noticed the weather, there's a report from the Pentagon--not the EPA, the Pentagon--saying we're about a decade or so, give or take, away from global warming fucking our shit up on a permanent basis. As in ice age. As in droughts. As in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are shining up their saddles even as we speak, ready to deliver war, famine, pestilence, and death to all the good little boys and girls who parents and gradnparents and great-grandparents wrecked our ecosystem. Add to that the fact that oil is probably going to run out within our lifetimes and you begin to understand why a lot of Dubya's policies have seemed so crazy--he's looking to make sure his underground bunker is fully furnished before the shit hits the fan.
Yes, I care about the fate of human civilization and millions of lives far more than I do about same-sex marriage, but if Bush is going to bring this up now then I can't say, "Alright, screw this, we'll get another amendment to change things back in a decade or two, it worked for prohibition, let's go shut down Exxon." I feel, much as Alice Paul felt, that I am about to fight a battle that I shouldn't have to be fighting for. Marriage should be waiting for me anytime I want it, ready to bestow all its beauty and insanity on me once I've made the world a better place. Until it is, I have to pay attention to this amendment as it floats around Congress, and make sure that everyone I know who supports my right to get married is going to be voting against Dubya and anyone who supports him.
7. RRZ, you've said that anyone who doesn't support same-sex marriage is neither your friend nor your family. Isn't that a little narrow minded?
No. It didn't matter how well a master treated his slaves; as long as they were slaves, then he was neither their friend nor their family. It didn't matter how much a husband loved his wife, or a father her daughter; if they opposed women's suffrage, they were neither their friends nor their family. Likewise, anyone who is unwilling to support my right to be married and to have that marriage recognized by the state is not my friend and not my family. Never was, never will be.
It pains me to say that. It hurts me, when so many people dismiss debates like this with remarks like, "It's politics. It doesn't matter." It isn't politics. It is the basic denial of citizenship to a minority group within the United States. Once, the Constitution allowed such discrimination. As our history progressed, we changed it to guarantee greater freedom to people of color and to women. Let's not take a step backward and stain this document yet again.
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