Gay Marriage

1 Jan

I am not Gay. I’m a fiftyish male who has been married for a quarter of a century, who finds homoerotic images range from those that simply leave me feeling “this message is not for me” to those that strike me as creepy.

I believe that Gay marriage should be legal.
I do not come to this position lightly. The Gay Pride events I occasionally saw while I was living in Washington D.C., during the 1990’s, struck me as circuses in dreadful bad taste. I believe that the word “marriage” has never, in the English or American languages meant anything other than a union of man and woman. I consider the court decisions which have ruled otherwise dubious at best. I observe that the Alexandrian Greeks, who revered homosexual pairings above heterosexual ones, did not use their word for marriage to describe such pairs. And of the claims that Native Americans were accepting of Gay unions, I point out that Western Intellectuals have a tradition, stretching back almost to the discovery of the Americas, of ascribing to Native Americans any culturally disfavored practice they wished to make respectable. In short, I don’t think much of the Political movement that is working for Gay marriage, or their methods, or many of their arguments.
For me, it comes down to two issues. Firstly, one of the prime purposes of the institution of marriage is to provide for punishment of partners who do not keep their vows and compensation for the spouse they betrayed.  I cannot think of any reason why those Gay persons who wish to live monogamously should not have legal recourse against their partners if their partners betray them. Secondly, I have yet to strike an argument against Gay Marriage that did not, in my opinion, boil down to either an appeal to religious doctrine or “they’re creeps, and we don’t like them”.
Further, I understand entirely why Gay people are unwilling to accept measures like “Civil Unions”. No matter how such a law was worded, simply the difference in term would generate a decade’s worth of stupid incidents where some puffed up functionary would deny a Gay couple the treatment accorded married couples as a matter of course, ostensibly because of a dislike of Gays but probably really simply out of the joy of saying “no”. Even where Gay Marriage has been recognized legally, the Gay community is facing such incidents, and a different term would only multiply them. There is always some sphincter who wants to clench up simply for the pleasure of being obstructive.
I think that many Gay people are shocked at how much venom this issue has brought to the surface. They lived in Gay-friendly communities like New Hope PA, or San Francisco CA, and now they feel singled out. In truth the multicultural pattern that the American Media projects is to some degree a fantasy, still, and not just for Gays. The rifts between generations or religious sects are still very much there. Many a respectable older person deeply believes that their grandchild is a bastard, because her parents were married by a Justice of the Peace, or a Reform Rabbi, or in some manner other than The Right Way. We Americans mostly don’t talk about such people, or if we do we caricature them to an extent that makes them absurd. But they are real, and widespread, and if they are going away, it is a slow process. The Gays tripped over this. Which in no way excuses us from dealing with their reasonable aspirations fairly.
A big part of the problem is the degree to which married status changes how one is dealt with by the government. And, given the history of marriage and government there probably isn’t a way to disentangle the two. But perhaps something in that direction could be done if we moved toward the customs that exist in Argentina and (I’m told) some other formerly officially Catholic countries. In Argentina the government only extends legal recognition to civil marriages, and many couples hold one ceremony to satisfy that requirement and a religious one to satisfy their religious beliefs. This would free Gay Marriage from the charge that it was an attempt to make people alter their religious beliefs, at least to whatever degree Gays were willing to leave the various churches who would not marry them alone.
I remain uncomfortable with many of the excesses of Gay Pride events. Homo-eroticism either leaves me completely unmoved, or actively annoys me. I think that the Gay lifestyle so celebrated by the Gays themselves is self-destructive and tacky. None of that matters. Fair is fair. Gays should be allowed to marry.

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