I don't know what the best perspective is on the gay marriage issue. I don't know what to say to people to convince them that the issue of individual rights alone is enough to grant gay couples the right to marry. We live in a time when the idea of individual rights has been relegated to a quaint afterthought during the realignment of American values resulting from the current brawl between capitalism and democracy.
One perspective, however, keeps coming back at me. Fundamentalists believe that marriage is between a man and a woman and for the purpose of creating a family. A gay couple is incapable of having their own children, they assert, so they do not qualify to be married. But what of heterosexual couples who marry with no intention of having children. Beyond any issues of infertility or illness, there are men and women who are married in the eyes of the state, enjoying all of the legal benefits, who have no intention of having children. They seek only companionship and all of the entitlements that come with marriage. Sex, joy, partnership, caring. All of that is theirs, even though they will never bear children and willfully so. If the state says they are free to do that, why aren't gay couples, as well.
This country denies gay couples that right only by asserting that gay Americans do not have the exact same rights as those deliberately childless straight couples. And that is to say that homosexuality itself is illegal. Opponents would have to say that they do not want gay couples to enjoy the same lifestyle as straight couples who refuse to have children because gay Americans are not entitled to have the sex, joy, partnership and caring that their straight counterparts have. They would, therefore, have to outlaw homosexuality itself. Either that or outlaw every single marriage wherein that couple refuses to raise a family. One or the other. That's it. No other choice.
Do you think this society is prepared to outlaw homosexuality? Even with all the fear and hatred of homosexuals that some groups promulgate today? Think about that. Think about the effort and cost involved to argue that case. To write and manifest those laws. To prosecute them and punish the "transgressors." Will our society similarly outlaw childless heterosexual marriage? Of course not. That is ridiculous in the extreme. Ridiculous and wrong.
Once you embrace this basic idea, the rest of the argument falls into place. Gay couples are free not only to marry, but to create families in every way that heterosexual couples who cannot bear their own children do. Adoption, surrogacy, etc.
One does not have to possess one molecule of identification with the gay cultural or political experience in this country to believe that gay Americans have the right to marry. Such a stance is not similar to saying, "I always wanted to play the piano so I favor government scholarships for music study." You do not need to have one ounce of affinity for gay people in our society whatsoever to recognize that they are being shamefully wronged every day we allow this to continue.
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