March 25, 2008

Editor’s Letter: Why Republicans Should Support Same-Sex Marriage

“For Whom The Wedding Bell Doesn’t Toll.” Via Waylon Lewis, from the Winter 07/08 issue.

“Our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”-Abraham Lincoln.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'” -Martin Luther King, Jr., quoting the Declaration of Independence.

“The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.” -Justice Earl Warren, 1967 Supreme Court case, Loving v. Virginia, which struck down anti-miscegenation laws.

“Angie and I will consider tying the knot when everyone else in the country who wants to be married is legally able.” ~Brad Pitt.

“I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” ~John Donne.

For more, watch this video.

Friends of mine often delight in calling me homophobic-I probably am the most squeamish boy in history when it comes to the visceral notion of sticking my sensitive little friend where it’s not, in my limited experience, meant to go-let alone having someone stick their little buddy up my rear. I’d rather have an eye poked out, personally speaking.

And that’s a key qualification: personally-speaking. I don’t give a damn if other boys want to play with other boys’ bits, as long as I don’t have to play along. I don’t mind if girls want to love other girls. In fact, I can’t blame them.

I’m not trying to be funny, here: I’m serious. The whole gay rights issue comes down to guys not wanting to have their weenies hurt. Most folks aren’t prejudiced, really, they’re just squeamish. And squeamishness is no reason to take away people’s basic human rights.

We Americans have got to reread our poli sci and history textbooks. There’s personal and then there’s political. Basic American value #1: “all men are created equal” (writ at a time when ‘mankind’ referred to all humans). It took 85 years, however, before white men without property gained equal rights. It took 140 years before we gave the wiser sex the right to vote. And it took 180 before Civil Rights swept through our mottled brains and proclaimed black and white to be equal. Basic value #2: if someone ain’t hurting someone else, they can do whatever they want. That’s a Republican credo: Stay out of my business, Big Brother. Less government is best government. I don’t want you telling me how to act or think, let alone who I can smooch or marry.

The whole thing about traditional marriage being defined (that is, limited) to that between a man and a woman is bull. The Greeks and Romans created Western civilization-and for them, gay love was top tier. But is heterosexual marriage more natural? More than 500 animal species have been shown to enjoy brotherly (or sisterly) love. And I don’t see Family Values folk eschewing the auto-mobile or aero-plane because they’re not “natural” (nothing’s wrong with not “natural,” unless you’re in the produce aisle). As for the “Bible says homosexuality is an abomination” (Lev. 18:22) issue, c’mon: enshrined among our founding principles is the separation of Church and State. Which is a good thing, because the Bible also states that “polygamy’s cool” (Gen. 29:17-28; II Sam. 3:2-5), “mistresses may be kosher but…” (II Sam. 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron. 11:21), “…football isn’t” (Lev. 11), “only virgins are allowed to marry, punishable by death” (Deut. 22:13-21), “divorce is forbidden” (Deut. 22:19; Mark 10:9), that “if I die my brother has to marry my wife, or be fi ned one shoe” (Gen. 38:6-10; Deut. 25:5-10). But that’s not all! You can “sell your daughter into slavery” (Ex. 21:7) or “put to death anyone who works weekends” (Ex. 35:2). And there’s plenty more where that came from. So maybe we can’t take the Bible literally. Maybe we should focus on the spirit of Jesus’ message of love and mercy.

Still, if I came out of the closet here and now:
“I’m gay.”
I would suddenly find myself stripped of 1,140 federal rights.
If I said,
“Hah hah, just kidding, I love the ladies.”
…and clicked my heels together, tada: I’d suddenly have 1,140 new rights. Doesn’t make sense. I’m the same person.

Now, I love America. The idea of America, the ideals: freedom of choice. Freedom of assembly. Freedom of dissent (press). I love that I live in a country where I don’t have to agree with or like something to want to protect its right to march up and down Main Street. What’s that you say, daddio? You want to promote family values? Well then, you should know that Big Business (Republicans) knows that queer folk make for safe neighborhoods (time for Starbucks to move in).

This is something our generation, or movement, can put our foot down upon. Whether Republican or Democrat, straight or gay, we all believe in individual rights. In limiting the ability of government to control our lives, whether because we love to hunt or because we hate the so-called Patriot Act. Whether we like something or not, personally, has nothing to do with whether it should be legal. The good news: we Americans may take our time getting it (straight), but we do wake up: slavery is wrong. Women deserve the right to vote. Minorities should be equal. Now it’s time for a new generation of Civil Rights: it’s time to stand up, and stand together with all Americans, and say, “Let us, as a society, shake off this fi nal blind spot.”

View responses to Waylon’s letter here.

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