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09/07/2010

Nat'l Review's marriage case: Protecting sanctity of hetero superiority & entitlement

by Jeremy Hooper

Cover Overlay 100920A new National Review editorial that Maggie Gallagher calls the "single best piece I’ve read on the subject" of same-sex marriage features lots of the usual, increasingly-rejected arguments about procreation and slippery slopes. It also works the same "they're gonna call us bigots!" victimization routine that Maggie's National Organization For Marriage has taken on as their number one strategy as of late (while, of course, not taking responsibility for the "why" of that possibility). So since the piece is an amalgamation of what we take on here, nugget by flawed nugget, every single day of the work week, we're not gonna pick the whole darn thing apart in this post.

We do, however, want to look at one particular segment that somewhat sums up the skewed mentality that underlies every last bit of our opposition's marriage bias. Namely, this snip:

"Same-sex marriage would introduce a new, less justifiable distinction into the law. This new version of marriage would exclude pairs of people who qualify for it in every way except for their lack of a sexual relationship. Elderly brothers who take care of each other; two friends who share a house and bills and even help raise a child after one loses a spouse: Why shouldn’t their relationships, too, be recognized by the government? The traditional conception of marriage holds that however valuable those relationships may be, the fact that they are not oriented toward procreation makes them non-marital. (Note that this is true even if those relationships involve caring for children: We do not treat a grandmother and widowed daughter raising a child together as married because their relationship is not part of an institution oriented toward procreation.) On what possible basis can the revisionists’ conception of marriage justify discriminating against couples simply because they do not have sex?"
The Case for Marriage [Nat'l Review]

Sex. That's where these opposition voices begin and end with us. Heterosexual married couples have love, commitment, companionship, shared goals and dreams, combined financial means, rights, privileges, tax breaks, PTA meetings, and entitlement to the easy marital currency that will be painlessly recognized in hospitals, courts, tax bureaus, and anywhere else where the one with whom a person has pledged a life commitment most comes into play. But gay couples? Well, we're just friends who like to play with each others' genitals, dontcha know? Like a pair of friends who are having so much fun exchanging orgasms that they decided to turn it into a permanent sleepover with their favorite bunkmate.

Now, these social conservatives have of course set up this heterosexual procreation argument because they think it's the one thing we cannot refute. But marriage is not and has never been based around the ancillary component of children. Not fully. And nowhere else, other than in the confines of a politically-charged conversational contrivance like the one Nat'l Review's editors have proffered onto their partisan pages, would anyone debate that fact. Human beings the world over know what love and marriage is, and we all know it goes well beyond whether or not the couple (homo or hetero) chooses to invoke on a path filled with diaper changes and Dora The Explorer DVDs. We know that Harry and June, sixty and childless even after being married for forty years, are no less nuptially-bonded than a teenage couple who spend their honeymoon in the maternity ward. We know that Bob and Joe, Sigma Delta Beer Bong brothers and roommates, have much more than sex separating their relationship from friendship to loving union (and that one drunken sex session isn't enough to change that, so stop worrying, Joe). We also know that marriage is one way that many committed couples choose to solidify this, the ultimate declaration that there's more to this bond than just high fives and tenuous shared interests. And most importantly: We know that if one kind of couple within the known, scientifically-recognized spectrum of sexual orientation is included in the CIVIL system that we call marriage, than *ALL* couples who fit within this span are also to be included.

Oh, and some of us know that this is no longer a request: It is a demand!

***

*UPDATE: Now to be fair, Nat'l Review tries to blow off our beliefs by claiming that same-sex marriage advocates raise these three points:

The first is that law and society have always let infertile couples marry; why not treat same-sex couples the same way?
...
The second objection proponents of same-sex marriage raise is that the idea that marriage is importantly linked to procreation is outdated.
...
The third objection is that it is unfair to same-sex couples to tie marriage to procreation, as the traditional conception of marriage does.
The Case for Marriage [Nat'l Review]

And then they give the usual convenient reasons for why these points are supposedly faulty (hetero couples still have poss. of mating, the pregnancy connection is timeless, no animus is intended, etc.). But the problem? Well, in their straw man-like insistence on boiling down our arguments to three convenient claims, they fully (and foolishly) overlook some of the more pertinent points that we raise. Points like:

(1) That civil marriage laws do not speak to the ancillary component of children AT ALL, so the only way for these personal arguments about acceptable reproduction to come into play would be for the religious right to start working toward some sort of procreation amendments (i.e. ones that prescribe reproductive goals that must be met by the married couple) before they even think about gay marriage bans!

(2) That when it comes to marriage's supposed "tradition" and history, our modern opponents have no leg to stand on regarding marriage supposedly being this one, concrete thing that is not fit for further discussion or tests.

(3) That nothing same-sex couples do or do not do in terms of their own personal freedom to marry changes any of these beliefs, opinions, or even truths about marriage or reproduction as we know it. Quite simply: Gay couples do not have the power, capacity, or desire to harm any heterosexual's union! And any other cause that might ever try to piggyback off of the marriage equality movement would have to make their own cases on their own merits!

And there are others, of course. All building on the actual reality of the world. A reality where gay people are born. Where gay people give birth. Where gay people contribute to births. One where the only folks who are playing politics with procreation are the social conservatives who look at the unique role that gay people play in the life chain, then take it upon themselves to decide that this role is to our society's collective detriment.

Perhaps it's time they embark on a National Re-Review.

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