From entire countries making marriage between same-sex couples legal to individual states and the President declaring legality and support, gay marriage is on the rise in public consciousness. Unfortunately this radical-gay agenda hopes to indoctrinate our children into having sin-filled sexual escapades resulting in the utter and complete destruction of civilization as we know it and the dissolution of humanity due to our inability to have any more babies. Oh wait, I’m sorry, that’s what the conservative moralists are saying. Much like I’ve always wondered what the mind of Stephen King looks like that it’s capable of coming up with such incredible horror stories, I also wonder what the mind of the conservative looks like when they come up with such ridiculous end-of-the-world statements. But then again, we’re not talking rationality here and we’re certainly not talking about the law, but about fear. And nothing spells fear like armageddon.
Opponents of “similar marriage” (remember that California beauty queen talking about “opposite marriage?” yeah, the comment is still ridiculous), are tied to this notion of preserving the institution of marriage. I’ve heard it said, clearly by a comedic genius, that given you can no longer sell your daughter for four sheep and six bushels of wheat then marriage has changed. Ignoring this historical shift, though I’m quite sure some wouldn’t mind going back to it, is fairly easily done for those more interested in ideological purity than connection with reality, but there does seem to be something here about that pesky thing called an “institution.”
The term holds two different and not exactly concomitant definitions as it pertains to marriage. The first is legal, as it is an institution created and maintained by law for the purposes of establishing certain property and social rights upon two people who willingly enter into a contract.Yes, marriage in legal terms is a contract. It is not, at that level, the pairing of two souls, or the completion of two-halves who sought their whole lives for that missing piece to their personal jigsaw puzzle. Rather, it is a means of establishing contractual obligations within a particular social relationship. There are laws like this for every social relationship, from the student-teacher to the cop-citizen, because in every relationship there will be or already is a disparity of power. Whether that difference is part of the original scheme or whether it is potential, laws are in place, ideally, to address these disparities and help make social relationships more equal. We are a nation that was built upon and progresses forward through the rule of law. Without it we are nothing more than a hodge-podge of city-states and geographical regions. The United States of America is a legal creation not a divine one. This country was established as a bright city on the hill to hold up the ideals of a democratic society, where rationality is embodied in the rule of law and serves as the medium for social exchange of ideas.
This reliance upon the law and rational public debate is precisely why the groups supporting the rights of gay people to marry turn to the legislature to see their hope become realized. There is a disparity, nobody denies that, not even the opponents. Two adults wish to engage in a specific contractual arrangement that millions of other couples succeed and fail at with startling rapidity, and they are denied for the sole reason that they possess the same reproductive parts. This is a disparity, one that we have as a country long sought to get rid of. African-Americans were denied their rights simply because of their skin color, a fact they could not control. Women were denied their rights because they didn’t possess a penis and therefore were thought to be incapable of higher-order thought, a fact that any guy knows to be utterly false whenever he loses an argument. The same here applies for gays, who had no choice what biological parts they were born with.
Curiously, this consideration of marriage as a legal contract doesn’t seem to be the real issue. I’ve yet to see any signs waved in various states of apoplexy over the finer points of joint-accounts and property dispersal. Here is where the second shading to the meaning of “institution” comes in, that of a religious one, particularly as it relates to controlling fear. Here it is where people of many religions can finally come together. Whether it be Christian, Muslim, Mormon, or Jewish, conservative believers have banded together to make sure the destruction of humanity is averted by not allowing gay people to have a specific social contract. Nobody in the pro gay-marriage groups is asking for more rights than anybody else, so any posturing by the opponents who declare this point is clearly just fear-mongering. Nobody in the pro gay-marriage groups is requiring that any individual pastor, priest or televangelist be legally bound to preside over a gay marriage. Again, this is fear-mongering and fear always hides something else. It is the result of a thought or feeling, not the beginning of one. It is a reaction.
The reaction is to one of equality, that insidious aspect of rational law that places people on a level playing field when it comes to socially created connections. If the field is the same then there’s no sense in feeling a need to declare that one’s difference makes them inherently superior to another. The principle of equality is the great equalizer not only in law but in human relationships. Equality is not about making a flatland where differences are ignored, it’s about accepting how differences cast shadows upon the field rather than raising one person above another. We are all equal by principle even in the midst of physiological differences, not because those don’t matter but because it creates no inherent hierarchy of purpose or power. Issues of power dynamics are always manifested through social creations. This fear of equality has been with humanity for millennia. When Jews in the Old Testament declared their god asked them to commit genocide, it was fear of equality that rode the pale horse. When Catholics and Protestants alike slaughtered each other and those deemed “heathen” throughout the Middle Ages, it was fear of equality that drove the marching hordes. So it is when conservatives enter the polling place and demand that gays be not allowed to enter into a contractual relationship that others have, it is fear of equality that paints the sign “God Hates Fags.”
To be equal in the eyes of one another is to celebrate our differences, to look upon the person to your right and left and say there is my sister/brother in humanity, it is a matter of engaging with others through transcendent humanistic principles rather than attempts at control. If marriage is to have any lasting social power it must change because in the end it isn’t about who you engage in contracts with, it’s about always doing so from a place of equal intent and integrity of purpose.