[This is a long one, folks.]
Like President Obama my view of same-sex marriage, and GLTB (gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual) has evolved over the years.
When I was a little kid, “gay” meant merry. Insofar as we knew anything about homosexuals we called them “faggots”, “fags”, “homos”, or “fairies.” (If you were trying to be less crude, you might say that someone was “light in the loafers.”) As prepubescent boys, we didn’t really know what any of that meant; but we used those terms as insults. In any case, homosexuals were male.
As we hit our teens, we started to understand what homosexuality was really about. We still used the same terms, and as insults they became more biting as our own sexuality became a preoccupation.
Throughout school I was small, erudite, and unathletic to the extreme. I also had a large arsenal of insults and took pleasure in making fools of others. This didn’t endear me to anyone outside my own circle of friends (the AV club, the Brahms-Shoenberg Music Society, and other such manly pursuits). The closest I came to being mainstream was being in the orchestra. “Jerry the fairy” was something I heard a lot. None of this changed my attitude towards homosexuals, and insofar as I cared about it I thought I didn’t know any.
Toward the end of high school I began to realize that a few of my teachers might in fact be light in the loafers. That didn’t bother me in the slightest (although my mother asked some questions with a disapproving tone). Somehow homosexuals that I knew weren’t the same as those disgusting faggots of legend. By the time I hit college I was pretty sure that some of my friends and acquaintances were gay; again, that didn’t bother me.
By college I also knew that there were homosexual women as well as men. I wasn’t quick on the pickup while watching the movie The Fox, but then neither were the main characters.
In our mid-thirties, my best friend since third grade came out to me. He was no doubt terrified. I don’t remember exactly what I said in response, but I know what my thoughts were: no kidding. At that point homosexuality was completely acceptable to me. I was saddened to think that it was a lifelong burden, but in about the same way that being an albino might be.
When the issue of civil unions started to be discussed, I thought and said that perhaps adoption could get around the legal issues without changing the law. It was quickly pointed out to me that this was unacceptable in many ways, and I just as quickly changed my opinion.
Nevertheless the idea of gay marriage made me feel somewhat queasy. The queasiness passed pretty quickly, too, and I came to accept the idea without reservation. That is where my position is now. Here are some of the things that have gone through my mind:
- Gay marriage? Sure, so long as we have procedures for gay divorce.
- DOMA? Get the government off our backs and into our bedrooms?
- Gay couples adopting children? Why not?
- A child needs both a mother and a father? Whatever are we going to do with all those single parents?
- Would you want your child taught by a gay teacher? I haven’t heard that one in awhile, but I always thought that my daughter would be safer with a gay male teacher than a straight male one. The only time I actually saw a teacher-student relationship with my own eyes it was a male teacher and a female student.
- Gay equals child molester? Most gays and lesbians are as disgusted by child abuse as any straight. If the NAMBLA folks ever decide to go to hell, I’m sure that the gay community would happily pay the bus fare.
- The Bible says…
- Marriage is between one man and one woman! Well, many of the most worthy men of the Torah had multiple wifes and concubines. The Torah sets out in great detail how multiple wives are to be treated, so evidently this was commonly accepted if not commonly practiced. The levirate marriage was actually a divine injunction, regardless of the marital status of the man involved. Polygamy wasn’t officially declared illegal in Jewish law until the middle ages, although the Romans had forbidden it not only for Jews but other peoples from the beginning of their ascendancy.
- Christianity rejects it (although there really isn’t much said one way or the other in the New Testament). Here’s Martin Luther’s opinion:
I confess that I cannot forbid a person to marry several wives, for it does not contradict the Scripture. If a man wishes to marry more than one wife he should be asked whether he is satisfied in his conscience that he may do so in accordance with the word of God. In such a case the civil authority has nothing to do in the matter. [Luter, Martin. De Wette II, 459, ibid., pp. 329–330
- The Torah forbids homosexuality outright. Well, yes, it does [Leviticus 18 and 20]. Leviticus forbids a lot of other things, such as bacon. If you
- Work on the Sabbath
- Eat lobster or blood sausage
- Eat leavened bread on Easter Sunday (most years it falls during Passover)
- Refrain from stoning to death a rebellious son
- Let an adulterer live
Then you’ve already started to pick and choose. I know that Christians say the New Testament supersedes the old, but did Jesus really tell anyone to eat pork?
- If we allow gay marriage, we’re on the slippery slope towards allowing polygamy, bestiality, and who knows what else! Well, I find it hard to disagree with this particular argument; but the same thing could be said of home schooling (why require any schooling at all?); zoning (why not have a classification for restricted <fill in the blank> neighborhoods?); gun registration (if they make us register our guns, they’ll confiscate them); and anything else that completes the sentence “If we let them do this, then …” My examples might sound absurd, but I’ve heard some pretty absurd things said.
Ah, well — either you agree or you don’t.