Labels Matter: The Right to Fear Queers Constitutional Amendment

06/07/2006 02:48 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In the first major legislative actions since the primary election ... the state House yesterday did not take up property-tax relief or lobbying disclosure -issues voters have complained most vocally about - but instead approved a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 7, 2006

Pennsylvania already has a "Defense of Marriage Act." It was passed in 1996. They now fear that "activist courts" will overturn it.

A "Defense of Marriage" bill or even constitutional amendment has, based on it's label, a certain appeal. It is, of course, misleading. I can't for the life of me figure out how gay people not being able to marry defends my marriage. Or anyone else's marriage.

So, if it doesn't do that, what does it do? All I can think of is that it defends people who desperately fear queer sex from ever, ever thinking that such sex is the equal of their own. Or that the people who do it that way could ever be the equal of themselves. In the interests of truth in labeling, it would be better to call it the "Defense of the Right to Fear Queers" bill.

The president has just come out in favor of the constitutional amendment that the Pennsylvania legislature has voted in favor of. Wouldn't the national dialogue be so much more interesting if he had called for a "Defense of the Fear of Queers" constitutional amendment. Or the "Right to Homophobia" amendment. Or the "Regulate Consenting Adults in the Their Bedroom National Regulation."

The voters that such bills are designed to appeal to are called "values" voters.

But is the urge to prevent two women or two men from forming a truly committed relationship a "value?" How? Is it a manifestation of sexophobia, a basic fear of sexuality? It certainly seems so. It is not their "values" system, it is there "fear" system, even, a psychological disturbance.

Let us please, from here on, refer to them as "sexophobic voters."

This might appear to be an attempt at humor or sarcasm. It's not. As long as the debate is set up with a title like the "defense of marriage," and "activist judges" are the little demons we are defending against, and the people for that defense are "values" voters, they are in charge of the debate. Which might be fine, except that they have taken charge of the debate with misleading and utterly false labels.

Label things for what they are. That will make the debate be over what it's really about. There are a certain number of people who like to have sex with partners of the same gender. Some portion of them want to form permanent, committed relationships with a single partner. They want to have the same ability to do so as people who like to do it with opposite gender partners, and when they've done it, they want to have the same rights as those people. Judges who regard individual and civil rights highly are recognizing that and they are having trouble finding a real, viable distinction between individuals in same sex relationships as in two sex relationships.

As there are people who are homosexual there are also people who are sexophobic. Should the fears of the phobic be the law of the land, limiting other people who engage in the activities they fear? Perhaps. Or perhaps not.

But a least let us refer to the Sexophobic Voters as who they really are and insist on calling what they want what it really is: The Right to Fear Queers Constitutional Amendment.