The issue of Gay Marriage is not simply a social issue; it is not merely a legal one, nor is it a complex of both. Gay Marriage is a Human Rights issue and therefore is a philosophical issue. The issue of Gay Marriage–what? What about it? As alluded to above, I have reservations about calling Gay Marriage an issue; nonetheless, Gay Marriage does stand at the forefront of what we say about ourselves with relation to a person and his or her personhood. Our socio-political philosophy is fixed, adequately or not, on a philosophy of individualism or individuality. The issue of Gay Marriage thus brings to bear in our discussions or debates whether or not a political philosophy of individualism is viable, or if our way of defining it or explaining it has very much to say on the issue of basic human rights.
Any discussion of Gay Marriage will have to address basic human rights and how these rights are unalienable and universal, and how laws made to oppose them do not void these fundamental human rights. These discussions will also be part of a grander metaphysical discussion concerning the universality of human rights. This universality is something we better readjust ourselves for articulating because without dexterity in metaphysical explication of human rights, all political philosophy, even empirically based, but most specifically the epistemology of human rights ( and there is a philosophy of knowledge and knowing, an inquiry that examines the limits of what is knowable about human rights, for it is not solely an ethical question) suffers. Without the fore mentioned dexterity, we will only continue to fumble our way through support for the rights of gay couples to marry.
Human rights cannot be restricted to political philosophy alone, either. They must be discussed and defined metaphysically so they can keep their valence in all conceptions of a universal and transcendent humanity inclusive of all persons; that is, so they can continue to maintain their social and political relevance for us now and anyone in the future with respect for human rights and civil rights. For if we do not define them within a humanity that is universal irrespective of time and place, then we are subjecting the idea of freedom for all in all matters of sane and rational choice to topicality and subjectivity easily undermined by one or another will to power–the latter being exactly what social ethics becomes when rights are not unilaterally and universally applicable throughout time and in every place. But this cannot be achieved where we no longer maintain an absolute and transcendent capital ‘T’ Truth as a compass heading, where we undermine knowledge and the capacity to search for it and find it, and where because knowledge becomes impossible, we then raise Doubt as the highest form of wisdom, where anyone who does know something immediately becomes suspect.
What is reading? It is not superficially skimming the pages, no; it is not this anymore than a best-seller is literary, irrespective of what it is that makes a best-seller sell best. What am I trying to say? I will just say what is in my mind–I have known too many people who were too reticent to write because they feared their own minds, what was in there,perhaps, what could be lurking there, a premonition of selves hiding from the Self, hiding from other selves, wearing disguises inside; to write is to betray oneself, a friend had said. To translate, is to betray, another had said, reminded me that Italian as a homophonic pun on to translate and to betray. Maybe those who fear writing, becoming naked on the page, I used to like to say, is because they do not read, or cannot read, that is, they do not do what it is they are supposed to be doing while they are reading, and that is not simply to skim the pages that pass before their eyes like so many trees in a changing landscape out the window of the bus they are riding to Boston to visit friends–there are really no landscapes to speak of outside windows passing whatever scene passes them on the Interstate Highways of America’s Interstate Highway System—did you know that you can get on one and travel through all 48 contiguous states without departing the system, begin in Maine and you can travel through every state of the forty-eight. We were in Portsmouth New Hampshire for several days last year and did not once walk on any bridge crossing the Piscataqua River into Maine–interesting that we did not do that.