In the upcoming months, the flames surrounding the cultural battle over gay marriage will once again blaze as Republicans continue to promote one of the greatest political hoaxes of modern times. Resorting to worn-out but stalwart methodologies to rile up their fundamentalist base, it's time to turn up the heat in debates and expose their hypocritical platitudes on the topic of gay marriage.
First, let's get some facts on the table of public discussion about the institution of marriage itself. Beginning with early documentation dating back to the Roman Empire, "marriage" as a social concept was all about economics. Created by ancient cultures in order to grant property rights and protect bloodlines, marriage as some sort of romantic or holy union didn't even exist until medieval times. Historically, it wasn't until the troubadours, those aristocratic poets and musicians who gained widespread notoriety and prestige in the 12th century came along, that the concept of marriage took on any notion of "quixotic love." In fact, it wasn't until the 16th century that marriage ceremonies were even considered a religious sacrament--due solely to a politically motivated decree by the Council of Trent.
Aside from ignoring the genesis of marriage itself, fundamentalists now purport it to be the root cause of everything good in the world, even in the face of 50% divorce rates and record high levels of infidelity. Having grown up in the Baptist church, I know their hypocrisy all too well. The personality types who are now droning on about gay marriage being the beginning of the end of civilization are the same people who race to church every Sunday morning in order to renew their glorified sense of moral superiority to those outside their own small world. Even as a teenager, I was struck by this level of mind-blowing hypocrisy, which ranged from the extramarital affairs between church-going parents of classmates to a youth leader who was sexually involved with not one, but two under-age high-school girls--both of whom were friends of mine at the time. Based on my own first-hand experience, it's impossible to shame the self-righteous into doing what is moral. Which, in the case of gay marriage, would be to treat all citizens of this country with the equality and respect they deserve.
Included in the fundamentalist paradigm is the unbending belief that God doesn't make mistakes. Because medical science has now advanced to the point that there is an impressive and growing body of knowledge to strongly support genetic-based sexual orientation, it's necessary to force this knowledge into every debate and boldly challenge their basic argument against gay marriage--that being gay is somehow against "God's plan." As a pre-wired characteristic, same-sex orientation can therefore be argued to actually be part of the "plan." And regardless of how many times I've heard racial epithets roll effortlessly off the tongues of church members, they are on-the-record about their purported belief that everyone is "created equal."
Research being conducted all over the world continues to point to genetic-based sexual orientation for men (fewer studies have been focused on lesbians), making the religious right more than a bit nervous. Just this week, a new study conducted by Canadian researcher and psychologist Anthony Bogaert reported that there was "no evidence that social interactions among family members played a role in determining whether a man was gay or straight." What he found was that having one or more older brothers increases the likelihood that males will be gay--not based on social or environmental factors but based on biological events that occur in the womb.
Last year in 2005, Dr. Brian Mustanski and his colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago, in the first-ever study combining the entire human genome for genetic determinants of sexual orientation, identified several stretches of DNA that appeared to be linked to sexual orientation on three different chromosomes. The bottom line, according to Mustanski, is that "genes play an important role" in determining whether or not men are gay or straight.
More than a decade ago, Dr. Dean Hamer and his research team from the US National Institutes of Health, published the first study that linked specific DNA markers on the Y (male) chromosome to sexual orientation. Today, from UCLA to Northwestern to NYU, scientists are now examining and finding genetic-based clues in a wide range of scientific factors that include the size of the hypothalamus, prenatal biology, even the DNA of gay twins, in order to determine once and for all that sexual orientation is simply how some of us are "created."
Of course the religious right will respond to this growing body of scientific knowledge with outrage, pious indignation as well as hyperbole and lies in order to hang onto their withering political fortunes. They know they have already lost the gay marriage issue with Gen Y, and it's only a matter of time before their most ardent followers either move on to their eternal reward or go broke due to growing irrelevance in a globalized and inter-connected society. A March 2006 report from the Pew Research Center found that among the general US population, the number of Americans who "strongly" oppose gay marriage has dropped from 42% in 2004 to just 28% today. And what do those Baptists I grew up with have to say about all this? Church leaders claim that "homosexuality" is a condition--not an identity--and that a "homosexual person" simply does not exist. Well folks, I exist. And so do millions of others around the world. Every gay man or lesbian that I have ever known understands that sexual orientation is innate. Choice? Environmental conditioning? As the Baptists might say, "Heavens, no! It's in the DNA."