On the John
Civil Unions? That’s so gay!
Originally published in the Indiana Daily Student on February 26, 2004
Headline obnoxiously changed by an editor to “Marriage Malady”
First off, let me just say I don’t buy any of this hogwash about people opposing gay marriage because they want to “preserve the sanctity of marriage.” That’s like me saying I oppose the designated hitter because I want to preserve the sanctity of the National League. For those unfamiliar with baseball, the designated hitter is used only in the American League, so obviously the rule has no possible effect on the sanctity of National League baseball.
People who “wish to preserve the sanctity of marriage” are really just saying they don’t like the idea of two gay people marrying, or doing anything else together for that matter. Well, to all of you who feel that way, I’ve done some research and you’ll be happy to know even if gay people are allowed to marry other gay people, straight people will not be required to do so. This will surely come as a relief to all of the straight people worried that gays have an abnormal desire to marry people who don’t like them.
Of course, not all people opposed to gay marriage are opposed to gay people having equal rights, nor do they have any kind of bias against gays at all. There are many who are in favor of civil unions and equal rights for gay couples but are opposed to gay marriage because “marriage” is defined as being between one man and one woman.
For a while, I thought this was OK. Homosexuals just want equal rights, like the right to a government-recognized legal union that provides benefits to the couple. Calling it “marriage” would just be icing on the cake. But civil unions are a “separate but equal” proposition, and those don’t usually work, as illustrated by the end of segregation. While there’s no obvious inequality in gay civil unions like there was with unequal funding for segregated schools, I do know much of the law is built on the manipulation of language — and sooner or later somebody will try to take advantage of the simple difference in terms between “marriage” and “civil union.”
Plus, it’s kind of silly to give gays legal unions and equal rights but deny them a name just based on semantics. The acceptance of a same-sex couple’s civil union seems to be more of a change of the institution of marriage than the use of a word.
I’m sure I’ve offended some people by equating gay rights to black rights and segregation, but step back and have some perspective. Let’s say a national law is passed tomorrow granting gay couples the right to legally wed. Forty years go by, and it’s now 2044, where the majority of Americans believe gay marriage is normal because they’ve grown up with it. Politicians also endorse it, because it’s the status quo. Do you know how absurd it would sound for someone in 2044 to say gay marriage should be outlawed?
It would be as absurd as it would sound today if someone suggested blacks should be segregated from whites in 2004, 40 years after segregation was made illegal.
This nonsense about “promoting family values” also pisses me off. My parents are not great parents because there are two of them or because one is a man and one is a woman, although I’ve certainly benefited on both accounts. They are great because they care for, provide for and love my brother and me. A gay couple is just as capable of that as a straight couple. Besides, if you are somebody who knows gays are going to live in eternal damnation, the least you could do is throw ’em a bone.
Advice from the john: Confessions are good for the soul but bad for the case.
Copyright 2004, jm silverstein