Wading into the murky samesex marriage waters
by Robert Randle
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It is difficult to weight into the debate over same-sex marriage without being accused of bigotry or hatred against homosexuals, especially if your views are rejected by those of the GLBT community and their defenders; but couldn’t the shoe fit on the other foot as well? I mean, gay people and their supporters can be just as vitriolic, disrespectful, aggressive, threatening, and prone to violence as their opponents. Setting aside for the moment, all the emotion and name-calling by both sides and taking a deep breath with a fresh air of ‘perspective’ might help to diffuse the explosive nature of this cultural time bomb. For starters, both sides are right and wrong and should admit culpability in polarizing segments of society to further advance their own particular self-interest. The Christian community and their political surrogates want to use the Bible to impose religious standards into civil law; especially it seems by selecting certain passages from the Old Testament (Genesis and Leviticus) as well as the New Testament (Romans, 1 Corinthians, and Jude). The thing is though; the Bible has a lot more to say about fornication and harlotry/prostitution that it does homosexuality (the word is not even a Bible term). So why aren’t Bible-toting believers railing against sexual exploitation (especially of the youth and women), voyeurism, prostitution, pedophilia, pornography, nudity or adult-themed clubs/bars, magazines, television shows, and in movies as well as the pandering sales of erotic merchandise (sex toys and lingerie). Perhaps religious groups are actively involved in protesting against these offenders but it seems that their voices are the loudest or heard the most often when it pertains to same-sex relations; except maybe in the case of opposing the practice of abortion.
Now, the supporters of same-sex marriage make an appeal to history, archaeology or cultural anthropology to prove that homosexuality, or rather that relationships between members of the same sex/gender is not uncommon or an aberration because ancient civilizations have left behind ample records of such experiences. While that may very well be true, and doubtless one of more famous Greek philosophers in times past might have been involved with a male (“catamite”) to service his needs, or even among some modern Native American or African tribes such practices have doubtless been performed, still one has to ask if these groups or any society recognized, legitimized or promoted same-sex or gender neutral “marriage” as the term is employed today? In the case of Greek society in the time of Aristotle, Socrates, or Plato it would be quite plausible to believe that one of the great thinkers of the age could have had a male lover/servant (slave) who resided with his employer. I suppose that the person could be included in a will by their benefactor and legally inherit property but that doesn’t constitute conveyance of marital privileges or rights. In tribal societies there could have been a more presumably egalitarian social structure where gender identity was not limited to a strictly ‘binary’ construct of male/female; biologically speaking. There could be male, female, feminine male, or masculine female and within each distinctive group, rankings and privileges according to the needs, rules and customs of the people in that communal group. I think in many if not most of the cases, the male person had what was called “two spirits”(masculine/feminine or androgynous) and was seen more or less as a ‘special’ gift that was conveyed upon a shaman/priest/witchdoctor that was chosen to be in contact with the unseen supernatural world (ancestor spirits, animal spirits, gods [good/evil]). This person would be revered or feared and as a result due in part of his/her ‘peculiar’ nature, could have and enjoy the use of a same-sex male/male domestic relationship [variable or temporary/permanent].
The question to be asked is whether in ‘any’ previous human community, tribe, clan, society, culture, city-state, nation, or empire was there ever such as thing as the consummation of marriage that involved a same-sex couple (male/male or female/female)? Not only that, but even among the people who had such relations were those who engaged in this lifestyle were they a tiny minority or a significant part of the population? I mean, if it was normative then they would have constituted a larger part of the social environment; and did they, or do we/can we know for sure? I know I am getting into hot water here but I have to chance it- but what about conjugal privilege and procreation? This last part serves as a perfect segue into one of the most divisive parts of the entire argument, namely the ‘sexuality’ component. The religionists, moralists and social conservatives place too much emphasis on public displays of affection (PDA) among gay couples and what they do or how they do what they do behind closed doors. On the other hand, to disagree with my gay friends, there is no “equivalent” or “sameness” in what a man and woman do in romantic coupling in comparison to that of man/man or woman/woman intimate sexual contact. I believe the “only” thing that is not different between a heterosexual and homosexual couple is when it pertains to L-O-V-E, because it has no boundaries or limitations based on gender, sex, social rules, legal regulations, etc.
Lastly, I sympathize with a gay couple who want the religious sanction or sacrament of marriage just as much as certain legal rights upon receiving a marriage certificate issued by the state conveying such privileges authorized by law (state and federal). Just as marriage is more than procreation it has its socio-cultural historical significance and importance in religious ceremony and ritual as solemnizing the male/female pair as husband and wife, bride and groom; or using other such endearing terms and associational cognates. There is something special about that pronouncement and I don’t know if it can be replicated in invoking the wishes or goodwill upon a same-sex couple as spouse and spouse or just calling them as simply, ‘married.’ Another thorny issue is when gay couples adopt children, and because this is relatively new there are no longitudinal studies to determine the impact on young minds from being reared in same-sex households. How would a male be affected by two male parents where he would refer to both men as his father? How would a female react in the same situation and is she affected differently, especially if she were the boy’s sister? Conversely, how would a female be affected by having two moms; what about a male; or what if they were both raised by the women parents and is the girl going to be affected differently than her brother?
These are open-ended questions and concerns that Social Psychologists, Pediatricians, the AMA, ASCP, Congress, the Supreme Court, state legislatures and religious scholars may be woefully unable to answer, but the one thing is certain is that when we shout so loud as to drown out the other’s voice, while at the same time plugging up our own ears we will never be able to clearly and unbiasedly consider alternative points of view; but then again, maybe this was the goal all along.
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April 8, 2014
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