A Pretty Gargantuan Post About Gay Marriage

16Dec09

So, every morning I do a little news-reading session (I usually do one at lunch, too, but the morning one is the important one, the one where I sit and soak things in).  I browse through whatever is most recent on the AP application on my Blackberry, because I have become lazy in my efforts to stay informed.  Usually I find at least one article that gets an emotional reaction out of me–be it disbelief that someone could actually think something, excited agreement, depression over the fact that something could happen, or (as was the case with all the Tiger Woods articles over the past week) exasperation over repeatedly seeing articles crop up on something about which I really could not care less.  I have to say, these articles very rarely come from my local news, and when they do my reaction is usually because whatever is being reported on involves me directly.

This morning I was very pleasantly surprised when I stumbled across this article in a small, local paper.  I was surprised because people in my area don’t talk about this, unless they are throwing out religious moralizations about why gay marriage is bad.  The people who disagree with the prevalent opinion tend to keep quiet.  It’s frustrating and difficult to feel so alone in both my opinions on this subject and my willingness to speak about those opinions.  The majority of my friends are in favor of gay marriage.  I can think of maybe three of them who are outspoken about the matter, who actually care about it.  Two of the three are homosexual.  So when I read that article, I was overjoyed.  And it prompted me to get moving.  I’ve had a blog about gay marriage rolling around in my head for some time now.  I’ve written drafts, saved them, and then didn’t publish them.  There is a reason for this.  I feel like I’m running on repeat these days.  I’m saying the same things over and over, but the people who need to understand are refusing to do so.  And so I keep saying the same things.  It’s been feeling too stagnant.  But reading that article made me realize that there’s good reason to keep saying the same things over and over, even if it feels like I’ve gotten myself stuck in a loop.  Someone needs to say these things.  Someone needs to be willing to push the issue.

In the article, Kristin Pitts writes:

“Earlier this week, when 53 percent of voters in Maine decided to repeal the state’s gay marriage law, we as a nation took a huge step backward.

It was a devastating blow for homosexuals, straight allies, and that nutty percent of the population who think that ‘all men are created equal’ should be roughly translated to mean that ‘all men are created equal.'”

The rest of the article was really, really good.  This is the part that got me though.  This is all that I needed, because it immediately gets to the root of the issue (or, what the root of the issue is for me).

This is the reason I have trouble understanding the dissension over gay marriage: We claim to be a free nation, and we claim to believe that everyone was created equal and deserves the same rights.  Most people act properly aghast at the fact that people had to fight tooth-and-nail in our not-so-distant past for the right to vote, and the right to live.  Most people respond with the sufficient amount of horror that interracial couples were once not allowed to marry.  I do not understand how the same people who realize (or at least pretend to realize) that the suppression of people because of their race is wrong, do not realize (or at least pretend to realize) that the suppression of people because of their sexual orientation is the exact same thing.

I get that many people feel uncomfortable when they are exposed to differences.  I also get that the sexual nature inherent in certain differences can exacerbate this discomfort.  I do not get how people think they have the right to dictate law merely to serve their discomfort.  Religion is not an acceptable excuse.  As much as people may shout that our nation was founded on Christian principles, the truth is that our nation was founded by people who needed a means to escape religious persecution

But let’s look even deeper into the Christian opposition of gay marriage.  The bible is the home of all Christian teachings.  It is where they get their doctrine, it is the instrument they use to form their beliefs.  Let’s see what the bible says about homosexuality.

Leviticus 18:22

Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.

Now, keep in mind that, among the list of sexual sins in Leviticus 18 are “Do not approach a woman to have sexual relations during the uncleanness of her monthly period,” “Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter.  Do not have sexual relations with either her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter, they are her close relatives.  That is wickedness,” –which always reminds me of The Graduate– and “Do not have sexual relations with your neighbor’s wife and defile yourself with her.”  I think we’d all agree that having sex with your neighbor’s wife is a pretty shoddy move, but we have no laws preventing the neighbor’s wife from divorcing her husband and going off to marry the man she was an adulteress with.  (The rest of Leviticus 18 pretty much just says, “Don’t have sex with family members or animals,” so we’ll move on.)

Leviticus 20: 9-22 (Leviticus is quite a book…I have to quote all of this, even the parts that don’t directly have to do with homosexuality.)

If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death.  He has cursed his father or his mother, and his blood will be on his own head.

If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife–with the wife of his neighbor–both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.

If a man sleeps with his father’s wife, he has dishonored his father.  Both the man and the woman must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

If a man sleeps with his daughter-in-law, both of them must be put to death.  What they have done is a perversion; their blood will be on their own heads.

If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable.  They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

If a man marries both a woman and her mother, it is wicked.  Both he and they must be burned in the fire, so that no wickedness will be among you.

If a man has sexual relations with an animal, he must be put to death, and you must kill the animal.

If a woman approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it, kill both the woman and the animal.  They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads. [I don’t get the phrasing of this…approaches an animal to have sexual relations with it?  Just the approach is a sin?  If she doesn’t actually have sex with it, but walks toward it with the intention?  But that’s overanalyzing.]

If a man marries his sister, the daughter of either his father or his mother, and they have sexual relations, it is a disgrace.  They must be cut off before the eyes of their people.  He has dishonored his sister and will be held responsible.

If a man lies with a woman during her monthly period and has sexual relations with her, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it.  Both of them must be cut off from their people. [Those ones always make me laugh…you might catch the evil!]

Do not have sexual relations with the sister of either your mother or your father, for that would dishonor a close relative; both of you would be held responsible.

If a man sleeps with his aunt, he has dishonored his uncle.  They will be held responsible; they will die childless.

If a man marries his brother’s wife, it is an act of impurity; he has dishonored his brother.  They will be childless.

I’m going to stop there, but the whole book of Leviticus is a pretty shocking read.  Seriously, it says to stone to death any “man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you.”  Are we going to say that now gives us the right to go kill Miss Cleo?

There’s no way we as a society would accept the things we’re told in Leviticus 20.  Is it okay to say, well, that one makes me uncomfortable, let’s condemn that!  But I’m sure God didn’t really mean to kill people who curse their parents.  It must be a metaphor for disobeying God.  Adultery is bad, but it doesn’t make me nearly as uncomfortable as homosexuality…let’s condemn it, but only lightly.  The adulterers can still come to church and be treated like human beings, and they’ll still go to heaven.  But those gay people, if we let them in we might have to watch them be affectionate toward one another.  Can’t have that…we’ll send them to hell, and tell them there’s no hope for them unless they stop being gay.

(I’m being snide.  I can’t help it.  We’ll move on to the last one.)

1 Corinthians 6: 9-11

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (NIV)

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (KJV)

I included two translations, because I used the NIV for everything else, but I think the KJV goes more in depth on this, and the NIV leaves out several of the listed sins.

I think the 1 Corinthians passage is extremely notable.  It’s funny how this gets conveniently overlooked.  Paul not only throws homosexuality in with sins like lying and drinking too much, he also clearly says that these sins will be forgiven if you’re Christian.  People who say only non-practicing homosexuals are forgiven are full of shit (I say as respectfully as possible)–do they also think only people who don’t lie, who aren’t at all greedy, or who never covet something that isn’t theirs are forgiven?  If they think only people who never sin are going to heaven, they’re all in for a big surprise.  They just apply the non-practicing bit to homosexuals, and that is, once again as respectfully as possible, bullshit.

Now, let me be clear, I in no way think that homosexuality is a sin.  (Quite frankly, I don’t believe in the idea of “sins” at all, but if I did, homosexuality wouldn’t be on the list.)  But, assuming that you do think it’s a sin, and the reason you oppose gay marriage is because God says it’s wrong, then should you also not deny marriage to those who have committed the other sins in that letter from Paul?

Even more, let’s just go by the ten commandments (which, by the way, homosexuality is not included in–another hint, in my mind, that it is biblically really not as big of a deal as some other things)–will all adulterers, liars, thieves, and murderers be denied marriage?  How about the people who disobeyed their parents, or worked on the Sabbath (either Saturday or Sunday, depending on how you view it), or really thought the car that Bob and Jane next door bought was very nice (and honey, shouldn’t we get something like that)?  That Hindu couple down the street, they broke commandment number one.  I guess our lawmakers will think it’s okay to deny them marriage?  We don’t deny marriage to the people who break god’s top ten laws.  Why do we deny marriage to those who have committed a sin that, let’s face it, doesn’t get much attention at all compared to other sins in the bible, and pretend that the reason is a religious principle?  Let’s face up to the truth.  People are altogether too willing to raise cries of “But god says it’s bad!” if it serves their own agenda.  They are far less willing to turn religious scrutiny on the things that directly apply to them.

Here’s something else I can’t understand.  Every now and again, our lawmakers are supposed to realize that the majority opinion is not necessarily the right opinion, and make laws to protect the minority.  I don’t understand how this hasn’t happened on a larger scale in America yet.  Surely more people can see the parallels between racial persecution in the past and sexual persecution now.  Why are so few people acting?

I think it’s partially because they don’t think it’s as serious as it is.  We’re America circa 2009, we couldn’t be doing something as archaic as 1800s America or 1960s America (or even 1980s America) did, right?  (Should throw in here, as much as people like to think it is, the women’s rights movement isn’t over yet.  Hell of a lot better than it was in the past, but still not quite finished.  And if you don’t realize that racism is still extremely prevalent in our society, well, you should.)  The media portrayal of homosexuals certainly doesn’t help.  It actually reminds me of Gone With The Wind.  In that film, all the black characters were sort of…silly.  Cartoonish.  Overdone and unreal compared with the white characters (who were not very subtle themselves).  The portrayal of homosexuals in today’s media is the same.  All gay characters have certain characteristics, and I’ve rarely seen anyone take into account that it isn’t the way that all (or even most) gay people act.  Gay men are portrayed as “flamboyant” (god I hate that word)–loud, feminine, prissy, and stylish (though often garishly so).  The women are portrayed as “dykes” (hate that word too)–masculine, often unattractive, short hair and flannel shirts (and if they aren’t, they’re sexy-make-out-and-feel-each-other-up-all-the-time lesbians).  The necessary disclaimer (because I do have to remind people, I’m speaking out against stereotypes, not the traits that are wrapped up in them), there’s nothing wrong with being any of those things.  I’m a firm believer in throwing out gender roles and societal expectations and letting people be people.  I hope one day people will be less judgmental about the blurring of those lines.  But it really really pisses me off that people assume that all gay men and women are the same–even more that they are so often portrayed as cartoonish, as a joke in the media.

Let’s get it out there right now.  Gay men and women are just like all other men and women.  I’m going to harp on this again–we need to take people into account as individuals, with their own actions, feelings, and motivations, and stop lumping them together.  This is even worse when we are being force-fed perceptions of people.  It colors the way we think, whether we realize it or not.  You maysaythat you know not all gay men and women are like that, but it still changes the perception.  It makes people see homosexuals as not quite real, as a funny character on film.  I always wonder, if there were more realistic portrayals of homosexuals in the mass media, would people begin to realize that these are real people and real lives they’re fucking with?  If that guy in Generic Action Film whose family was kidnapped and held hostage happened to be gay, would we feel less sympathy for him as he went after his partner and child, as he sacrificed everything to get them back and keep them safe?  (There’s another thing for me to bitch about later–the idea that same-sex couples shouldn’t have children or adopt.)  Would it be less tragic if he failed?  If Generic Romantic Drama was about a lesbian woman who was diagnosed with cancer, and her partner’s struggle with the illness of the love of her life, would it be less emotional, less awful?  Maybe if people were exposed to it in that way, it would help.  Maybe not.  I’d like to find out though.

I don’t know.  This is an issue that always gets to me.  The injustice of it, the way that every time I talk about it I seem to be beating my head against a brick wall.  It’s frustrating.  It’s frustrating because I know so many people are hurting because of it, it’s frustrating because I don’t understand how so many people don’t see that it’s wrong, it’s frustrating because I feel like we, as a nation, should be far past this by now.  It makes me feel like all the particles inside me are bursting to get free, to go wild in the air around me.  I know that’s a strange way to describe how I feel, but that’s what it feels like.  Like all these bits of me are trapped inside and aching to get out.  This is the way I get when everything I do seems useless.  And that’s maybe why I let this blog run circles around my head for so long.  I knew that, when I came to the end of it, I would get that feeling, like I need to let out a long scream and let the pieces of myself escape through my pores.  I won’t scream.  I’ll sit here quietly and move onto the next thing.  I’ll go play with the cat, and perhaps make some dinner.  I’ll live my life.  And I’ll try to remind myself that, even when talking about something makes me feel frustrated and helpless, and even when I repeat myself endlessly and run circles with my words, I need to continue speaking.  I need to continue fighting it any way I can, because if I stop, I’m giving up.  If I stop, I’m falling into the belief that my comfort is more important than the freedom of the people around me.  If I stop, I’m sending out the message that it’s okay if no one does anything, that it really isn’t a big deal, that this isn’t really all that important.  If I stop, I’m betraying everything I believe in.

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