Thursday, August 14, 2003

When it comes to marriage, what are the straights so afraid of?

Bush, The Vatican, and the heterosexual agenda

By Steve Charing

On the heels of recent major developments in the history of gay civil rights, the buzz continues to focus on (the fear of) same-sex marriages. From the Pope to President Bush, many leaders are scurrying to quell what they dread as inevitable: two gay men or two lesbians at the altar, taking their vows, and gaining the multitude of benefits that would accrue.

The threat of a Constitutional amendment by Republicans, a decree by the Vatican and a discernible backlash towards gays by the public are hurdles that are well nigh impossible to leap at this time. Our only hope is the Democratic Party, but the leading presidential candidates including the darling of the rainbows, Howard Dean, are opposed to same-sex marriages, albeit some form of “civil union” has been deemed acceptable. Only the three underdog candidates support the legalization of gay marriages, but, alas, they’re not likely to be around past the New Hampshire primary.

Initially, I believed such legalization would be a likely outcome following recent progressive victories on sodomy, the confirmation of a gay Episcopalian bishop and the ruling on same-sex marriages in Canada. However, it is becoming more and more apparent that this important step is still a ways off in the U.S. of A. There is no doubt there is a backlash; the polling data are all showing slippage in heterosexual support for gay rights and same-sex marriage in particular. And as long as the public is not supporting same-sex marriage, neither will the politicians.
Make no mistake about it, in this country if you are single - gay or straight - you are just this side of being a pariah. If you don’t believe me, review the latest ill-timed tax cuts that President Bush bullied through Congress and signed. Besides his fat cat contributors, who else benefited? Married people and those with kids (at $400 a pop) reaped the harvest the most. Single people?

Screw them!

This is unfairness in the grossest form. A man can pick up a woman in a drunken stupor in a bar and get a quickie marriage the next day and enjoy all the social and economic advantages that accompany it. But two men or two women who love each other and have done so for 3, 5, 10, 20, even 30 years get to watch married people and their kiddies receive government handouts in the mail. While a member of a heterosexual couple can enjoy visitation rights at a hospital and make decisions when the other partner is incapacitated, neither member of a gay couple is legally permitted to do so unless provisions are made in a will.

It is mind-boggling that heterosexuals condemn gays and lesbians for wanting to form a marriage bond as a natural extension of love. For so many years, the lgbt community has been chastised for fostering transient, unstable and promiscuous relationships. Yet, when we try to succeed at something heterosexual America has largely failed, it’s a no-go.

Openly gay Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) perhaps said it best: “Incredibly, Mr. Bush is trying to persuade the country that instead of persistent high unemployment, one trillion dollars in new federal debt over the next two years, continued American deaths in Iraq, unhindered progress towards a North Korean nuclear capacity and a bogging down on his agenda in Congress, Americans should be seriously worried about the prospect that two men who love each other might be allowed to become legally and financially responsible for each other.”

If a gay man wants to marry another gay man and two lesbians want to do the same, what are straights so afraid of? Are we really wrecking their marriages? Can anybody cite a single instance when a heterosexual marriage disintegrated because of gay coupling by others?

There are two major factors that serve as the basis for straight opposition. The first, of course, is on religious grounds. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that homosexuality is a sin. Assuming one believes in that doctrine, should only non-sinners be allowed to marry? Anyone who eats pork or shellfish is committing a sin. Anyone who commits adultery or has sex outside marriage is committing a sin.

President Bush acknowledged that everyone sins, but why is it that homosexual “sin” is selectively more egregious than the other “sins”? Nearly 60 percent of all single college students living away from home admit to an active sex life (and I believe that’s underreported). A whole new generation of “sinners,” therefore, is being harvested in the nation’s dorms. More to the point, as “sinners,” why should these young men and women be permitted to marry when gays can’t? Even convicted felons can marry.

The other rationale for straight opposition to same-sex marriage is that it would somehow cause the erosion of the traditional man-woman marriage - you know, tearing the fabric of society. Oh, really? I think the heterosexuals of America have done a fairly decent job of that on their own..

When virtually all marriage vows conclude with “until death do us part,” do you think the intent was that it would be violated in every other instance? To be sure, heterosexual marriages fail at an alarming 50 percent clip. And I venture to guess that at least half of the remaining fools are clinging to unhappy, unfulfilling, loveless, sexless marriages probably because of concern for their kids or a reluctance to divvy up their capital. Three quarters of divorcees simply re-marry and the cycle of unstable families goes on.

Heterosexuals continue their assault on marriage by trivializing it in so-called TV reality shows. When an anonymous audience chooses your supposed lifetime mate or when you get to select your spouse from a group of 15 chosen by a TV producer, or the children decide on who’s best for Pop, or the parents choose a child’s spouse, you’re not going to tell me that marriage isn’t being marginalized. Straight people apparently delight in making a mockery of marriage, but gay marriages would demean theirs. Go figure.

The argument that same-sex marriages will hurt the traditional institution is bogus. To the best of my knowledge, marriages aren’t falling apart in the Netherlands, Denmark, France, Germany, Britain, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Spain, Croatia, Iceland, Belgium and Canada since same-sex marriages or civil unions have been recognized there.

But in the United States, where gays have forever been vilified for promiscuous, unhealthy sex and at the same time berated for wanting a legally-based union, one can see how backward and screwed up this nation and its leaders really are.You can join the fight to prevent a Constitutional amendment from outlawing same-sex marriages by visiting