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Greetings, update readers.
Not since women’s suffrage has there been an issue in American politics where right and wrong are more clearly apparent, more morally inarguable, than is the case with Same-Sex Marriage. (Right and wrong was equally apparent with the civil rights movement, and the struggle was more compelling, with greater injustice and higher stakes, but there was at times complexity in the details: One need not have been a white supremacist to have had reservations about school busing. But with same-sex marriage the debate is simple, and clear. )
Majority opinion sometimes takes a while to catch up with moral imperatives, but in the case of same-sex marriage, it actually has. Most national polls finally show that more Americans are in favor of it than opposed. And the majority is increasing.
So why is it still an “issue” of potent political force? Why are so many national politicians – virtually all national politicians, including the president of the United States – still officially against it? Why has it been left up to individual states to slowly creep toward the national embracement of such a palpably important civil right? The best explanation, I think, is a breathtaking political cowardice and hypocrisy on the left. (The left are hypocrites but not bigots. The right are bigots but not hypocrites. Is this a great country, or what?)
One day soon, looking back at history, it will be as hard to imagine a politician being publicly opposed to same-sex marriage as it is to imagine a politician being against the woman’s vote, which so many were for so long; moreover, the arguments voiced in support of this insupportable position will sound equally inane. (One contention popular during the 1910s was summarized this way by an anti-suffrage organization in Nebraska: “Because the right to vote confers the obligation to serve on juries, women will be compelled to hear all the repugnant details incident to murder trials and trials for other crimes disclosing unspeakable wickedness.” In an incidental but perniciously related bit of claptrap, a Japanese sushi chef once told me, completely seriously, that women cannot be sushi chefs because their body temperature is higher and would slightly cook the meat.)
Is there really a valid comparison between same-sex marriage and women’s suffrage? Yes. Both involve simple condescension and prejudice disingenuously elevated to a supposed social argument.
Scan the debate on the issue – really drill down into it -- and you will notice something interesting: Every argument against same-sex marriage winds up being a simple declaration that (on whatever stated pretext – religious, moral, sociological, historical, philosophical) the debater feels that marriage should be between a man and a woman, dagnabbit. There is no logic behind it, no science behind it, no social science behind it. Not even spurious social science, usually.) It is not an argument at all, actually, but a statement of preference, based upon an unstated – indeed, an inarticulable – conviction: Gay stuff is icky. Gays are weird. Ergo, love between gay people is not as equal of recognition as is love between heterosexuals.
There are a lot of dishonest attempts to parse and qualify this. Don’t be fooled by that disingenuous, separate-but-equal dodge called “civil unions.” When someone says he is in favor of civil unions for gays, but not marriage, I always ask if, in solidarity with gays, they’d be willing to throw out the term “marriage” altogether, or make it a designation quaintly conferred only by places of worship without the backing or imprimatur of secular society. Won’t even require a blood test. Not worth the paper it’s printed on. That usually gets an “er.”
You know what else you hear from time to time? That allowing gay marriage will erode traditional marriage. Stain it. Lessen its value. I see. Hm. A stain. Sort of like how marrying a minority will bring disrepute to your family! The bigotry in all this isn’t even hidden. It’s right out there. Palpable.
And most specifically, do not be fooled by the religion dodge. If your religion compels you to be a bigot, it is time to find another religion, or another priest or pastor or rabbi, or to choose to interpret yours more benignly. (God would want it that way!) It is very easy to cherrypick any religion to find support for your prejudices. The Old Testament not only doesn’t prohibit slavery, it condones it. It has rules for how to treat your slaves. Directly from Exodus 21;20: “When a slave-owner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives for a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property.”
So don’t give me no religious justification, or I will imprison you in my basement, in chains.
And all this brings us to the key question: Why is it that this alleged “issue” is still being debated? If there is a movement, as there is, to nationally codify heterosexual marriage as the only legitimate form of marriage, why is there not a stronger, more robust movement to do the opposite, nationally? Shouldn’t the righteously indignant force of moral suasion create this?
The righteously indignant force of moral suasion is no match for the amoral pragmatism of politics.
It’s not the social conservatives who are keeping gay people as an underclass; they WANT to do that, but in the aggregate, they don’t have the votes. It’s the social liberal politicians who just won’t bring this to the front because it would risk fracturing their base. It would open a dialogue that could get messy. For whatever reason, black people tend to be opposed to gay marriage, as do Bible-belt white Democrats. Just keeping silent on this issue is easier. You won't lose any votes through your passive bigotry: Who are they gonna vote for, Michele Bachmann, whose husband who cures gays of their affliction?
Okay, all done now.
Do you have good friends? Me, too. On my 60th birthday, they took me out to dinner, and gave me a cool present. Cait Gibson found it online. It was the perfect gift for someone like me, who is starting to hear the footsteps of The Grim Reaper. It now hangs on my wall.