A Couple of Things About Queer Rights Discourse I Would Like to See Changed


I've been to a couple of rallies protesting the passage of Prop 8 lately, and I have realized that I HATE signs that read something like "I'm straight but I don't hate" or Straight but not Narrow." Can't you just carry a sign arguing for gay and queer rights? Or even a sign like this? Do you have to somehow announce your A) straightness and B) broadmindedness in a way that suggests you're actually really afraid someone might think you're (gasp!) gay?

Second, I always feel vaguely disreputable and uncomfortable when people argue for the validity of gay rights on the grounds that sexual orientation is not a choice. This doesn't mean I reject the compelling scientific and personal evidence supporting the claim that sexual orientation is not a choice. I believe it's not a choice. I just think it should be respected as a choice, because even if orientation isn't a choice, deciding to pursue a relationship with someone of the same sex IS a choice--a completely legitimate choice, as far as I'm concerned.

I don't see why someone shouldn't be able to CHOOSE a same-sex partner, for any reason whatsoever. I think doing so should be about the same as becoming a poet or a vegan or a tuba player: OK, not choices most people make, but entirely respectable nonetheless.

Within the purview of the US government and constitution, why shouldn't it be completely legal and acceptable for someone to CHOOSE a same-sex partner? Don't tell me it's because God finds it objectionable, even if he told you so himself, because he tends to complain about different things to different people. Furthermore, whether or not he approves of something doesn't always seem to have much impact on its legality. For instance, he's told Mormons that he objects to booze and coffee and tobacco, but they're all still legal, even in Utah. He told Jehovah's Witnesses that he objects to patriotism and birthday parties, and they're legal. He told Christian Scientists that he objects to flu shots and surgery, and they're legal. He told Catholics he doesn't approve of birth control, but it's still legal (at least for the time being). He told everyone he doesn't approve of greed and selfish disregard for the plight of the needy and the poor, but they're still legal--hell, they're revered, at least by Wall Street and the Republican party.

Now, I realize that choosing a same-sex partner and being able to marry that same-sex partner you've chosen aren't exactly the same thing--right now, you can do the former but not the latter, except in Massachusetts and Connecticut. But they're also not that different. And marriage, like any and all institutions, has evolved throughout its existence. It has had different gradations and types, some of which we don't like to think about, especially the weird kind God apparently thought were perfectly OK at some point, like concubinage or polygamy. We could still have those if we hadn't decided we wanted higher standards than ones God insisted on. So why can't we have higher standards for equality in marriage now? After all, God is a really slow learner. It's up to us to set the right example for him.



Yeah, and God is pretty clear about what (s)he thinks of usury -- which is charging somebody interest on a monetary loan. But that's legal. Maybe it never occurred to the Christian right that the reason the US economy is going to hell in a handbasket is that usury has become the norm.

Frankly, I wonder what God thinks of what people say that (s)he wants or thinks.

Concubinage still exists where I live - in Belgium. It's true it has evolved since Biblical times, but it is the name given here to two people of any gender who want to live together in a household but not marry. You register this state at the town hall, the same place you marry (again, whatever your gender). Concubinage allows those that do not believe in the institution of marriage to have the same fiscal advantages of marriage without entering into that arrangement. But you cannot be in concubinage and marriage at the same time, which I believe did happen in the Bible.

Holly, you are right that marriage is a choice. And I affirm with you the right of any two adults to choose to be married. Having been through the experience of waiting for the law to change to get married myself, I can also say it does make a difference. Society treats me differently now I'm married - even though I'm married to someone of my own gender - and if that's true in the US, then one should have the right to enter into this agreement with the state and each other.

Hi Juti--

You are absolutely right about the current state of the US and the role that greed has played in that. I sometimes wonder how rightwing "christians" reconcile their devotion to Jesus Christ with his insistence that what you really need to do to be moral is take care of the needy and the weaky.

Hi Matt--

Thanks for the info on concubinage in Belgium. I admit I find that weird and unsettling, mostly because all the research I did on ancient concubinage indicated that it was essentially sexual slavery, in which the concubine (who was always a woman) had virtually no rights.

I'm also glad to know that Belgium works so hard to accommodate the beliefs and preferences of its citizens. Why shouldn't a state do that?

And I am glad that marriage has had real benefits to you, that it wasn't just an optional ritual you chose to have done, just for the heck of it. My knowledge of your marriage is one of the things that makes me such an ardent support of gay marriage.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on November 18, 2008 8:01 PM.

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