On the right, you’ve got the folks who say gays will destroy the fabric of society before they all burn in hell. On the left, the activists render similar inflammatory judgments by equating the issue with slavery and branding those who don’t support them as hate-filled bigots.
Enough already. Both sides are out of line. This is one of those classic issues that conflicts millions of moderates and independents, including this Blue Dog, who has been bouncing with the ping pong ball and legal machinations.
On the one hand the institution of marriage possesses centuries of history and grounding as a sacred and rite and legal status synonymous only with a heterosexual relationships. To one way of thinking, gays can’t be “married” any more than heteros can pronounce themselves to be “gay.”
On the other hand, you’ve got a group of people who can make a damn good case they are the victims of discrimination. They want to form a union with another person and express it in the ultimate frame of reference: marriage. And who can blame them for wanting to be a part of society in that way?
This Blue Dog – an openly heterosexual coming up on 20 years of marriage — has gone back and forth on this one, balancing a traditional upbringing and legal issues with changing societal values and the pursuit of happiness. All court briefs and vitriol flying from both sides doesn’t make it any easier to sort things out. In fact, it seems whichever extreme bellows last is the one to disagree with.
But after much thought, the conclusion reached here is that gays should be allowed to marry. Pure and simple, it is the only decent thing to do. The rationale?
(1) With divorce rates at more the 50 percent, marriage is hardly as sacred as heterosexuals purport it to be. We have not done a very good job preserving the institution in a way that shows much respect for it.
(2) If two consenting adults love each other and want to spend the rest of their lives together under the banner of marriage, that should be a good thing.
(3) The nuclear family has been disintegrating all around us and is at the root of so many social ills. There are millions of neglected kids who would benefit from two-parent families regardless of gender. Before you mock that notion of family, just think about the transformation of heterosexual families. The Blue Dog has an adopted son. And what about blended families, second marriages, shared custody, adopted kids (here in our own state and from as far away as China), invitro fertilization, grandparents raising children, foster families, etc. Rather than destroy the family unit, married gay couples have an opportunity to be part of a new and bigger solution to help raise the next generation children.
(4) We need unity now more than ever. Married gays will encounter all of the same trials and tribulations every married couple faces. Marriage can be damn hard. Is there not the distinct possibility that extending marriage across the board can actually be a force that will help people relate to one another in new and surprising ways? It’s not so polly-anne-ish to see this upside.
(5) The majority is not always right. A lot of ballot initiatives are later found to be illegal.
(6) The face of Norman Rockwell’s United States is changing. In addition to a piece on gay marriage and its impact on politics, last Sunday’s New York Times included a disturbing trend story on community movements nationwide seeking to ban the construction of mosques. Below that story was one on a reunion of senior citizens who served as models for Norman Rockwell’s iconic painting. If a young Rockwell were alive today, his version of Americana would almost certainly include Muslim families and gay couples.
(7) God is love. Doubt that is a legal term judges are considering. But it kind of sums the whole thing up in this camp; the concept should be one the anti-gay marriage crowd should ponder in their Christian heart of hearts. Conversely, gays should exhibit tolerance and understanding of the fact that many, many people were raised in traditional families with traditional values. They should be respected and allowed some slack and time to get used to the concept of gay marriage as it becomes a new norm.
One last thing. How about some talk about restoring the word “gay” to its original meaning? The one my grandmother used so freely over Christmas dinner while everyone else snickered?
So let’s tie the knot, California, and attack much bigger challenges as one people.