Friday, December 19, 2008

100th post...with actual opinions! 100th post! On the one-year anniversary of this site, no less.

By design, I've kept this space pretty light in the year I've been tending it. There are so many maddening, depressing things going on in this world, and I spend enough time fuming about them privately to have much desire to add to the global diatribe in a more public forum. But even though this blog has had a fairly frivolous bent, I can't help but speak up every now and then about weightier issues. And since November 5th, one of those issues has plagued my thoughts almost constantly. It's the issue of equality -- of affording every human being on this planet the same rights and privileges under the law. I still can't believe we're debating that question, but here we are.

The topic has conjured a host of emotional responses in me -- outrage; frustration; fear; sadness; amazement. When I saw Milk last month, I commented to Jay that it was incredible how much and how little had changed in 30 years. Yes, as a country we've made undeniable strides in the last three decades. There's more acceptance overall, more willingness to understand other people's lifestyle choices without passing judgment. But when it comes to a vote, the majority of people are answering those questions with the same fear, intolerance, and hate as they always have, using the same specious arguments that have been debunked over and over again for decades.

The one that really angers me is the equation of homosexuality to bestiality -- you know, the old "If we let 'the gays' marry, what's next? A man marrying his dog?" line of reasoning. Frankly, I find that particular argument shamefully offensive. How can you compare the relationship between two mature, loving, consenting human beings to a man fucking his dog? No one's trying to legalize bestiality or child molestation -- heinous acts of violation that harm defenseless, non-consenting beings. People fighting against crap like Prop 8 are only trying to ensure that adults can marry other adults. Because they love each other. How in the world is that wrong?

Another argument I've heard is that a same-sex union is not an ideal environment to raise children. First of all, numerous scientific studies have shown just the opposite; it's the love, support, and commitment of the parents that matter, not the parents' gender. And second of all, if you're placing restrictions on who should raise children, why don't we start with addicts, or gang members, or, hell, convicted child molesters? And finally, who ever said that you have to be able to raise children in order to get married? Our species certainly isn't in any trouble of dying out, so that isn't the issue. I don't see how this can possibly be used by any reasonably well-informed person as an argument against gay marriage, but it's one of the most prevalent arguments out there.

Let's face it, in California you can marry a prison inmate, but not your same-sex partner of 5 or 10 or 20 years. Hell, if you're gay, a couple of straight, married, crackhead drug dealers have more rights than you do. And why? Because you have the same body parts as the person you love? Because you don't like to have sex with someone of the opposite sex?

Okay, seriously, this one really bugs me: what any person does in the privacy of his or her own home should never, ever be an issue in any argument against gay marriage. First of all, you want to outlaw sodomy? Then you should go ahead and lock up most of the straight couples I know. And more importantly, why should anyone be denied equal rights and privileges under the law just because some people aren't comfortable with their sexual proclivities? Lord knows I find the idea of people who eat each other's shit disgusting, but I would never claim that they shouldn't be allowed to get married because of it. That's just ludicrous.

And finally, I already addressed the religious argument in my last post on the subject, but even if there are objections to gay marriage on religious grounds, I feel I need to point out that we don't live in a theocracy. Even though the lines between church and state are blurred more than I'd like, they do still exist, and we should not let anyone's religion decide the fate of millions of people. And yet that's essentially what's happening in our country.

Jon Stewart vs. Mike Huckabee

I think one problem is that it's easy for some people to rest on exclusionary rhetoric when it's in the abstract. I believe that a lot of people would benefit from knowing a gay couple, or a gay person. Perhaps they'd realize that they're all (we're all) just people -- not "special," not "different," not "them" -- just human beings who want the same things as everyone does, who want to have a place and a voice in their own country. I'd wager that it's a lot more difficult to coherently relate any anti-gay marriage reasoning to a gay couple in love. When there's an actual human face on the issue, when it's someone's life and happiness you're trying to wreck? Not so easy.

I still want to know -- what are people so afraid of? What do they think is going to happen if gay marriage is legalized? Plenty of other countries, and even a couple states in our own country, allow gay marriage, and they're no worse for it. Our society isn't going to collapse because we give everyone equal rights. In fact, I'd argue that it'd get even better without all the friction, the anger and frustration and distrust dividing people down religious and party lines.

To sum up, I've yet to hear any sane, logical reason why gay people shouldn't be allowed to marry. I truly believe that the majority of people who are against gay marriage haven't given it much thought beyond the initial gut reaction (confusion? fear of change? fear of 'the other'?). And I find it outrageous that the same prejudices continue to find new voices generation after generation, the same way racism and misogyny are passed along. Few things are more dangerous than unexamined beliefs.

I don't want to be a total downer, so how 'bout a humorous take on the subject? Look, it's Prop 8: The Musical!

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