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. To say that the issue of Gay Marriage is a philosophical one is not to make it what we like to call “abstract,” but to make it primary in our consciousness. Gay Marriage stands at the forefront of what we say about ourselves with relation to a person and his or her personhood; any sane, rational, intelligent discussion of the issue of Gay Marriage will say more about personhood than about marriage. 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, something we better readjust ourselves for articulating because without dexterity in metaphysical explication of rights, all political philosophy, even empirically based, but most specifically the epistemology of human rights, could crumble in our mouths. 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, the issue of gay Marriage.
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; that is, so they can continue to maintain their social and political relevance for us now and in the future with respect for human rights and civil rights irrespective of gender or gender identification, of sexuality or sexual preferences.
Of course Gay Marriage demands a re-look at, as well as a re-examniation of, the institution of marriage, and that is not so much marriage today, although it does insist we do so, but marriage as it has been enacted in societies, more specifically the United States, or generally, in the English speaking world. This will become clearer when we discuss how language–i.e, diction–affects mentality in general, more specifically, the mentality surrounding our ideas about marriage and who should be married. Mentality always affects the general attitudes about what should be; should, in Freudian terms, is a very super-ego word.
Marriage–as it has been discussed by persons in various cultures, codified by laws and/or customs, ritualized in religious practices and understood by how a people anywhere define it, giving it specified and special choices in the words used–must be opened to this investigation. This essay will attempt the fore mentioned re-definition of “Marriage,” at least with respect for and cognizance of how it has been articulated socially in English speaking countries over the past millennia or more. An examination of diction concerning the institution will be helpful in understanding how mentality concerning marriage and gay marriage has been inherited from an archaic way of phrasing what marriage is and who the players get to be on the social stage of marriage.
When I was an undergraduate and imagined that I was going to be a Philosophy Major carrying on to a Master’s or a PhD in philosophy, I used to begin philosophical essays with definitions of terms. It had been suggested after one abominable failure of a thesis in an Ethics and Society class. The Professor reiterated that I should define my terms so as to give the reader a firm footing on where I stood, where the reader also stood, or simply, what I meant by what I was saying. Trying to say or having tried to say–neither of these were to say. In this essay, I am going to write about the issue of Gay Marriage, an issue not for any reason intrinsic to the assertions of gay couples wanting to join in a union we have called marriage, or their desire to be included in the institution we call marriage when they so desire, but because our lack of understanding of the historical place of marriage coupled with a complete unawareness of just what we are saying when we use the diction of marriage and marrying has lead us down one or another lost roads or dead ends in our reasoning.
Thus again, re-defining marriage is paramount to furthering our American understanding of where Gay Marriage fits in the social equation of couple-unions today–and it does fit, that is, more easily than many of us on either side of this pro/con issue are likely to understand or admit.
Opinions are opinions, and facts are facts, but intelligent, rational thinking is other than tautological. The protection of everyone’s basic human rights is of supreme importance in the course of all human events, and the civil rights of homosexual couples demands that we articulate just what we mean when we say that Gay Marriage is marriage, or that Gay Marriage is marriage redefined or even when some of us say that Gay Marriage is an abomination of Marriage, the latter I have never been quite certain is as holy or sanctified as many conservative opponents to Gay Marriage suggest.
If marriage as a ritual contract can be sanctified, I am not sure why it cannot also be sanctified by gay couples? Unless this is the polemical position many opponents have chosen; that is, gay men and gay women cannot be holy, they cannot enter into sanctified unions, they themselves are contrary to all things sacred, and they are therefore for-always restricted to the profane. But then if all of this is true, why are the secular avenues to gay marriage closed? I mean, I would understand better if traditional religions stood opposed to Gay Marriage and did not want to sanctify the unions based on this anathema position; but, I am puzzled by the secular avenues being shut. There is no valid reference to any religious text in shutting the doors to gay couples when it comes to marriage or marrying in one or another conventional ways. We do not shut the door to secular marriage when a couple might be professed atheists. Belief in one or another interpretation of God or gods is not a pre-requisite to marrying, nor should the presumption of man and woman uniting to legitimize their children be the sole reference for what a marriage is or should be. I do stop at a living person wanting to marry a dead person, a child, or a goat–but facetious responses aside, let us continue.
Our move toward a redefinition of marriage that would include gay marriage is not an impulse born of the desire to undermine the significance of the institution, nor would it in actuality shatter the institutional valency marriage has held for millennia. Marriage retains valency for heterosexual couples even if homosexual couples are granted legal access to marriage. In the gross and perhaps erroneous assumptions many have made for the institution of Marriage, Gay Marriage does not quite offend as it has been purported to do. Let us now look more closely.
Traditional marriage has been stuck in an archaic understanding of men and women, and has suffered the subtractive legacies of patriarchy, and the power plays politically that men have enacted over time to control women, most specifically, their bodies, their sexuality, which extends to the reproductive rights of women as well. Witch trials have often been an extension of this, even when they have been coupled with or gathered among other impulses and drives quite distinct from socio-political control and repression.
All midwives would have managed induced miscarriages and thus left themselves opened to the accusation of witchcraft, even if induced miscarriage could always be made to look like accidental miscarriage, and thus be a boon for a man who did not want to have another mouth to feed. The presumption is that men understood exactly what was happening, but all social masquerades mirror the masks we wear by nature in the form of personality or variegation of personality, and an extension of everyones many-selves Self. Men have always played hop-scotch around miscarriage, induced or not.
The traditional conception of the miracle of birth has left birthing and managing birth opened to a great many superstitions and superstitious responses or backlashes, particularly where women have been concerned, either as the birth-mother or the mid-wife. How men have used birth and birthing against women repeatedly over time in the history of misogyny ha been documented in witch trials. At this very moment in El Salvador, a woman having had a miscarriage is suspected of having had an abortion and might be arrested and imprisoned.
The issue of Gay Marriage and the issue of a woman’s right to choose are both part of a larger human rights issue which will become apparent as we progress in this essay. Now, a revision of what marriage was, what the expectations were, and how it fit into the mentality of ages past, was necessary centuries ago, and had even been broached by Mary Wollestencraft in her seminal treatise, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. It was (is) in the later treatise that Ms. Wollestencraft sought to “effect a revolution in female manners . . . and make them as a part of the human species,” for woman had been considered in her time, and for centuries prior, as a sub-species of man, a thing of modified personhood, someone sent into the world, “half made up,’ if you will. And perhaps we can better understand the associations of woman and her make-up if we pay closer attention to the ways women have been expected to present themselves socially or in the bed room; and the ways men have rhetorically carved her up.
The primitive ways we have understood marriage over the centuries has affected how we think of it today; how could it not. The way we have thought about many things over the last millennium that persist in our discourse affects how we think about them today. Just what the implications were for women in marriage when framed by the language of the past has left its imprint on how segments of our society define marriage today, and even residually refer to women in that institution. It certainly affects how we argue against gay marriage, and it has even left its mark on how supporters of gay mariage confound their own defense. We actually hear gay men using the term husband and lesbians using the term, wife. This just might have to change after reading this.
Words never lose their original potency, and the effects of language use are not restricted by contemporary connotations of words. More on the etymologies of the words used in the marriage ceremony, or how people talk of marriage, refer to the persons in a marriage, upcoming; but allow me to reiterate that the current absence of any astute, rational and intelligent re-imagining of marriage and the language of the ceremony and the contract, how it is still affected by an archaic world view that was useful to reinforce patriarchy and the continued repression of women, has impeded social progress toward how Gay Marriage could be accepted and thereby permitted; that is, without any attempts through courts or legislation to impede this acceptance.
Gay Marriage is inevitably bound up with Women’s Rights issues, as I have already said. Thus it is bound up with Human Rights issues as well, thus it is part of any discussion concerning the right to choose, which is the rights of self-determination, which is also the unalienable human right of sole proprietorship over body, which extends to a woman’s right to choose an abortion, as it also does to a gay man when he chooses who he loves or even just fucks; all this true for lesbians in their choices.
Perhaps Gay Marriage does not make sense to many people because they still imagine, by some collective unconscious framing, that marriage is primarily man shackling woman; that is, marriage remains a social contract between men and women whereby women give up certain rights over their bodies for the privilege (understand this in its traditional meaning) of “being taken care of” materially and monetarily, which is why both the Romantics and the Modernists later equated marriage with a form of prostitution. (Privileges are offered in place of rights that are not respected by law or are violated by custom..)
Regardless of how much this thinking has changed, regardless of how we have modified or qualified our roles in marriage, much of the traditional views and expectations remain residual, and this is not a nod in the direction of maintaining an etymological fallacy, but how the customs of language do not and often cannot erase the history of words and their cumulative semantic values. Of course we have evidence to the contrary in our contemporaneity for this view that marriage is bound in an archaic way of seeing men and women and their roles determined by gender, which is just the point I am making. We have already been in the process of revising our thoughts on marriage, tailoring our actions accordingly; however, we still remain confused when asked to define and articulate what we mean by the institution of marriage, and this has left us unprepared to deal with the issue of Gay Marriage. But then most of what we need to say, need to articulate, define, in the matter and manner of our freedom escapes too many of us, and I am talking about the educated who should be able to do so, at least those who need to support the idea that we should do so.
The lack of any articulate examination of the history of marriage may run parallel with our continued absence of a healthy historical consciousness concerning everything that happens in our lives, but the way marriage has been maintained over time—that is, culturally, interpersonally, customarily and legally— has forestalled how Gay Marriage could be–should be–included in our definition of marriage today, one apart from contractual agreements on the part of woman to be a breeder. This absent consciousness of our traditions and our language has prevented us from seeing how Gay Marriage as a variegation of the accepted norm could even liberate marriage as a social institution for everyone, particularly in how the role of women could be altered from the one framed by the narrow parameters of traditional marriage, itself informed by agrarian animal husbandry. Marriage is bound to change more positively for women with an acceptance of Gay Marriage as marriage, simply and forthrightly.
The acceptance of Gay Marriage will change how the traditional role of woman in marriage has been and continues to be defined against her personhood. Nothing as archaically constituted as traditional marriage should have endured for as long as it has without addressing the way marriage has been understood by our culture and in our language; or how it has been presented through one or another channel in our media. How the rhetoric of marriage had been articulated over the centuries has not much changed throughout those centuries—and I am focussing specifically on the English language, particularly how the etymology of the diction used in contemporary ceremonies (as well as in common parlance irrespective of social or economic class or one’s politics) has informed the rhetoric used to defend the status quo of marriage. This diction has been woven into the laws used to support the customs of marriage, and has shaped the opinions that the successive mainstreams of our society have held and have used to express their concerns about marriage that inform what we say currently.
There are only two main points herein to understand: the one, marriage is a contractual and/or ritual union in love between two adult humans; or the other, that is the traditional one, and this is that marriage is a cover by law for the rights of animal husbandry. The former is a move toward greater civilization, the latter, a move toward darkness and an archaic way of conceiving human rights. And we must not miss the point that this is a human rights issue; just as we must not miss the diction of marriage, whereby a husband, as in husband and wife, is exactly the husband as in animal husbandry, the science of animal breeding. The husband is the manager of the breeder’s brood. Human marriage must be taken out of the concerns for and management of animal husbandry.
Now, if marriage is a bond between two people who love each other–and we have come to say this about marriage, sometimes obliquely–then how is it that gay marriage offends anyone. It should not be offensive in the least, unless we are saying that gay men and lesbians cannot love each other. I do not know if anyone, even many opponents, would want to, or need to, argue this nearly un-winnable position. Why would anyone say that gay couples are not in-love, if homosexuality is no longer considered a mental illness, mental illness still a criterium that prevents marriage today? Of course, there are still those who imagine they are being kind or progressive by opposing Gay choices in lifestyle as indicative of mental illness, but I am not here to address the profoundly ignorant.
Okay then, if gay men and lesbians are not mental defectives, then their sexuality should not be raised as a point in asserting they cannot love. If they can and do love another gay person, and this love is reciprocated, then gay couples can create a union of love, a relationship nurtured and fostered by love, a relationship that grows in love, a relationship that receives all the benefits and extensions of a loving union.
I am not joking when I say that I am sure there are people who consider homosexuality a mental illness–we are a country of three hundred million people; the world is a world of seven and half billion. But I am addressing sane, intelligent and rational people, not the lunatic fringe of American society–and those I am calling lunatics are not lunatics because they disagree with me, but because they disagree with intelligence, rationality, sobriety, facts, science, education, and anything anyone could call enlightenment.
I am also sure there are those who consider homosexuality a moral illness, and I am not talking about fanatics or zealots in the cause of a fundamentalist Conservative hegemony, as scary as that sounds to me. I am sure there are still people who think homosexuality is a sin. Sin or not; moral disease or psychological malady or not–being gay is a variegation of human, and human mandates our respect for any human’s basic human rights.
I have known many heterosexual couples, though, who were fruitful when they attempted to multiply, but did not love each other, and should not have gotten married, and were even ill-suited as parents. Heterosexuality does not have a monopoly on love, caring, compassion, adequacy in parenting, and so on in the manner in which we do parent in this society. Fifty per cent of heterosexual marriages end in divorce; what does that say about heterosexual unions? I do not know anyone who would argue that a heterosexual couple is ill suited to be maried since heterosexual couples have a 50% chance of winding up divorced. There are a number of reductio-ad-absurdum arguments the opposition of Gay Marriage has not and probably cannot address intelligently.
If love is a pan-human condition, then it is a condition that lesbians and gay men can enjoy or falter within. Unless we are saying that homosexuality is an inhuman condition? I am not certain that any opponent wants to venture into this position, although it would be interesting to hear, allowing the contemptibility of the opinion to air and not fester sub-socially. But the objections to gay marriage, I have suspected, are other than this. The objections many raise against gay marriage as not being legitimate marriage are founded on one unspoken premise, and that is that gay men and lesbians, within their sexual practices, cannot be breeders; and we must come face to face with how traditional marriage has coalesced and initially accreted around the gravitational center of husbandry, that is breeding rights, contractual and codified as such. What this points to for us is that what we call conventional marriage has been held captive by not only the traditions and contractual agreements surrounding human breeding for too long, but the residually effective diction from these arrangements made in marriage.
Homosexual unions in and of themselves do not produce children, and as such, do not qualify as rightful marriage in the mind of many objectors. I mean, if marriage is to be restricted to heterosexual couples, then the presumption is that marriage must have something to do with making babies. Or, am I mistaken? Is there some other reason behind the exclusion of homosexual couples from marriage and the sole inlcusion of heterosexual couples? It seems as if this is prime in the opposition to Gay Marriage, but let me say that heterosexual unions do not produce in this way when one or both of the spouses are sterile. Furthering the assumption on my part that traditional marriage is firstly and latly about breeding is the fact that being unable to produce children is still grounds for the other spouse to petition for divorce. Society recognizes as grounds for divorce the inability to produce a child. It is then safe to assume that most objections to gay marriage are a reaction, mostly unconsciously, perhaps even collectively-unconsciously, to a non-productive union.
For our society to remain consistent in this way, we would have to have enforced divorce for couples who cannot have children, and for couples who decide not to have children too, perhaps; that is, if we are going to continue to say that Gay Marriage is not marriage in the traditional sense. Do we want to annul marriages that cannot produce children–some still do in the course of finding out that one of the couple cannot help produce a child. Perhaps if one of a couple still wants a divorce under such circumstances it can become the choice in a personal argument of expectation and not a de facto decision based on marriage being primarily about breeding which most people do not even believe anymore.
If it is no longer de facto that marriage entails the expectation of having children, and if one decides to divorce for the inability of the union to produce a child, then the decision for divorce must be made on the grounds of personal expectation, since the contract was between the two under consideration and not all marriages as in effect or de facto every marriage was. If this is the case, then marriage is no longer about breeding and is now about love? It may or may not be about love–it could be for economic solvency too. But breeding is no longer the prime or overriding reason for marriage, thus there is no sensible reason for gay men or lesbians to be excluded.
We are not herein discussing adoption, which is always the religious answer for a heterosexual couple that cannot have children. Adoption, though, is not breeding; and still, if one examines adoption practices we see that to breed is still a big part of marriage. But then this is just what gay unions address. Marriage is no longer ruled by the processes involved in insemination (unless we want to address the ways insemination in surrogacy could be used by homosexual couples); marriage is now and forever only about love or the choice to join in a ritual contract binding two sane adults–let us not forget that homosexuality is no longer a mental illness (and do I really have to tell you that my tongue is firmly in my cheek?). The issue of Gay Marriage puts to the forefront the question of whether marriage is principally about making babies, or even of it is the only institution within which a couple can have children.
If we are opposed to Gay Marriage because it stands outside of traditional marriage’s link with breeding and breeding rights, then we are on shaky ground. Moreover, as I have alluded above, anyone who is infertile must also be excluded from the right to marry, if we are taking the position that gay marriage is not traditional in the sense that gay couples cannot breed. If we allow infertile couples to marry and stay married then perhaps we are moving in the direction toward marriage as a bond of love and not the breeding contract it has been traditionally. This, of course, is not the fist time we have heard that marrige is a bond between two people who love one another. At least idealistically, marriage is this. Cynical attitudes about marriage being a bond in love notwithstanding. If marriage is open to contractual agreements more economic than amorous, then there is even less reason to oppose Gay Marriage.
What Gay Marrige does, as I have iterated above, is free marriage from the shackles of breeding and breeding rights and the legitimizing of the brood. Remember that a brood mare is a female horse that is set aside for breeding. Traditional marriage sets aside women for breeding. Gay men and lesbians cannot be set aside for breeding–unless there is some form of surrogacy, which we still seem to have problems with, irrespective of there being surrogacy in the Old Testament. I suspect that this is an aspect of the Old Testament that even some fundamentalist Christians cannot abide? Or they are then horribly inconsistent. Perhaps their ethics belong in a cafeteria and not their churches.
In traditional marriage, throughout all the English speaking world, a woman becomes a wife; a man, a husband. In English, these titles, if you will, reveal something intrinsic in the traditional mentality concerning marriage. ‘Wife’ comes from the Anglo-saxon word for female, not woman or spouse. In this context, female is equal to breeder, as the female of any mammalian species is the breeder of her brood. The distinction of female in any species is a sexual one, and that is without any of the neutral connotations we assert in our identifications with gender. Gender is a grammatical term and one of sociological reference when talking about women and men. Male and female are the two sexes of any species, distinct for their roles in breeding, primarily.
A man becomes a husband in marriage, and in effect becomes the master of the union’s breeding; he is the one that manages the brood of the breeder, the female, or the wife in this instance, the Anglo Saxon wif. The latter is also part of the compound wif man, or, ‘woman.’ Before marriage a woman is a female person (what we mean by ‘person’ is contained in the use of the Old English word ‘man;’ what we mean by ‘man’ was contained by the Old English were as in were-wolf, man-wolf or wolfman; the Old English were having nothing to do with the contemporary English past tense form of the verb ‘be’ ‘were,’ nor is it restricted to use in the former connotation). After marriage, she is only a female. Note the deletion of her personhood. Moreover, as mentioned above, the word ‘husband’ is contained in the origin of the word ‘husbandry,’ the science of animal breeding, which is exactly what traditional marriage reduced woman to, an animal, perhaps a pet, domesticated as were cows, horses and pigs.
You do also know that bride and bridal are related, and bridal is the adjectival form of the noun ‘bride,’ and ‘bridal’ is exactly the word that had been used in puns based on ‘bridle bit,’ what a horseman puts in the mouth of his horse. The husband muzzles the wife in traditional marriage. Now we know that jokes permeate the psyche; common parlance affects mentality, mentality shapes common parlance. For centuries in English speaking societies where horses were used, ridden and bred, bridle bits have been used; and in as much as homophones are often the root of puns, bridle bit gives rise to the puns about marriage, how the bridal bed is a symbolic bridling of the woman, her bridal bed is her bridle bit.
Gay men by their sexual practices cannot produce children, which underlies, as I have said, many objections to Gay Marriage. A man’s colon or rectum or anus has none of the functions of the female uterus, cervix or vagina. But then anal intercourse between heterosexual couples does not produce offspring. I do not doubt that many who object to Gay Marriage might also object to heterosexual anal or oral copulation because they violate the Biblical proscription against sodomy, or because any sexual act that might not result in a child is perhaps demonic or simply degenerate (itself a term used to denote prurience but has its origins in actions that do not generate, and even when used to reference a metaphorical generation, as in art, for instance, that is, what does not generate is degenerate [something the Nazis had an affinity for identifying].The origin of the words used is for something that is progenerating-like, as in producing children who are our progeny).
I am not going to discuss masturbation as it is understood in these minds; masturbation being the greatest metaphor in parallel for the kind of thinking that takes place in these minds . . . I am not going to venture any psycho-analytic diagnosis. Sexuality in itself, let us say, as well as the practices therein, whether hetero- or homo-, is freed by the acceptance of Gay Marriage.
Until we change the diction of marriage, though, the rhetoric cannot change. If we do not change the rhetorical constructs we use to refer to marriage and persons in a marriage, then the mentality about marriage will not change. If mentality does not change, individual psychologies will continue to be shaped according to an archaic framework. If this is true, though, that marriage is about love and not about breeding, then why is infertility still grounds for divorce? If marriage is exclusively adjunct to homo-sapiens animal husbandry, then gay marriage makes no sense; if marriage is a union between two humans who love one another, then gay marriage reinforces this notion by taking out of the equation of marriage once and for all the conditions of breeding. Heterosexual marriages that do not produce children for whatever reason, by choice or by biology, are as fruitful as those that are fruitful and multiplicative.
All of these points notwithstanding, we still see attacks on abortion clinics and a savage opposition to the availability and distribution of birth control, both of which run parallel to the sometimes savage and even violent reactions to the idea of Gay Marriage or homosexuality. One conclusion from this could be that sex is not for pleasure in our culture. If we examine our popular culture and its entertainment, we would see clearly that when sex is for pleasure, it must be framed as grotesquely as possible. The proliferation of pornography can tell you just what the collective unconscious of America thinks about sex. And I am not herein trying to proscribe or prescribe for anyone’s bedroom, but what we do in our bedrooms and what we see on the stage of our social interactions, the platforms we perform on as we know this world is a stage, exist in different categories, whether associatively or dissociatively.
Gay marriage is therefore marriage liberation. It is not only an issue of gay rights but of women’s right, in as much as it removes women from the yoke of traditional marriage or the contractural obligations in husbandry. The issue of Gay Marriage, being a Human Rights issue, in as much as it is an issue of the right to choose, fosters a broader understanding of everyone’s basic Human Rights. As fore mentioned, Gay Marriage liberates heterosexual marriage, and once and for all, as I will repeat again here, removes the definition of marriage from the legacy of breeding, although certainly not parenting, which it will thus redefine, as it has been redefining it for us in our society for the last quarter century.
A redefinition of parenting will also bring about a redefinition of the roles of mother and father; it will have an impact on paternity claims, and child care, especially in places like Family Court. Could we be leaving our Puritanical reflexes behind? I would hope so. It is imperative that we do so. There are so many ways in which we find ourselves the flip-side of a singularly minted moralistic coin, the other of which is Muslim theocratic reactionary theology.
I used to think that it was naive of us to expect the mainstream of our society to accept homosexuality coming our of the closet, when heterosexuality had only been out of the closet in our culture for about fifty to sixty years, and poorly received at that by the turns in how popular culture deals with or represents sexuality. You do understand that this is not hyperbole. Sexuality, in our media and popular culture is always in need of being marginalized or of marginalizing itself. This is changing, but there is still far too many examples of sex and sexuality that point to a collective unconscioous fear of sex and sexuality. This fear in America is repressing our attudes about isues concerning gay marriage, as well as abortion rights. This is a tightrope we walk in America.
Our notions of personhood are also stunted by this notion of how sex and sexuality is first, fore-mostly and lastly about breeding. Issues concerning the nature of personhood and transgender persons and how they are persons first and last is confused and confounded by this inability on our part socially to deal with sex and sexaulity in a healthy way.
I am approaching the idea of Gay Marriage from more than the position of civil rights, which is how it wound up in the Supreme Court, which is a very good thing to have had happen. We must understand, though, that it is not the Court that gives Gay Couples the right to marry. It is not even the law that can do that. Human Rights precede the law, and Gay Marriage is a Human Right, the Human Right to choose. Yes, again, we are talking here about Human Rights (as in other essays, Human Rights must be capitalized to signify its capital place in our hearts and minds). When talking about Gay Marriage, I take this to be self-evident and not a point for debate. If it is understood that we are addressing basic Human Rights when we discuss the issue of Gay Marriage, perhaps the opposition could not be as vehement.
Moreover, where human rights are concerned, the law can uphold a right, the law can protect rights from abuse, the law can even get behind them and ensure that they are maintained in a manner that impedes future violation—and this is where the Court comes in—; but a basic Human Right is an unalienable right, and the denial of legitimacy by standing laws does not eliminate the right. The Human Rights of a slave exist and persist irrespective of the slavery. Slavery certainly disrespects and, more so, violates the Human Rights of the slave; but the slave has Human Rights in spite of the violation. The Human Rights of Gay couples exist irrespective of what the law says.
The law, again, in a slave society legally enforces the perpetuation of the slavery; but the slave’s human rights are absolute and universal, most especially at moment of their violation. This is where Gay Marriage resides–universal, absolute and transcendent Human Rights. Yes, let us proclaim liberty throughout the land for gay couples, that gay couples have unalienable human rights irrespective of the laws that support or impede social progress toward accepting Gay Marriage as a variegation of marriage.
Addressing Gay Marriage as a civil rights issue is a necessary adjunct to addressing Gay Marriage as a feminist issue, which it is, and not because lesbians are women. Gay Marriage is a feminist issue in as much as Gay Marriage will forever change how partners in the marriage contract are looked at, talked about, referred to; all of these apart from and forever distinct from how tradition has engaged these roles and used the terms to name them. Addressing the civil rights of homosexual couples is correlative to addressing Gay Marriage as a Human Right’s issue, so the Supreme Court was correct in addressing this case now as it has. I cannot stress this enough, though, about the Human Rights of gay couples being bound up in the legal sanctioning of Gay Marriage. Let all repetition become motif; the motif here is universal Human Rights; all in the cause of universal Human Freedom.
The interesting thing about the Supreme Court decision, though, is that it declared that any State’s attempt to block civil marriage of gay couples is unConstitutional. This shifts the focus of Gay Marriage from a Human Rights issue, universal, absolute and transcendent, to a legal matter, one where civil rights are specifically if not solely addressed, and not necessarily in conjunction with a discussion of Human Rights. This shift in focus does not eliminate–or should not be allowed to eliminate–from our view, just how much we need to keep our eye on Gay Marriage as an issue fully lodged in the fight for universal Human Rights. To say I agree with any legal decision that ends with the Constitutionality of Gay Marriage sounds silly to rational and intelligent ears, but it might not seem superfluous in the debate when we understand that sometimes in a democracy, power is numerical. I add my voice to the sum of voice, an extension of adding light to the sum of light.
Let me then say that Gay Marriage is Marriage. In this way, the truth is tautological.