Who I am is not important to know–yes ,I have chosen anonymity and not out of deference to Virginia Woolf’s assumptions about Anonymous as an author. What my name is could not be less important; where I am from also could not be less significant for what you need to learn, to understand, to know. These facts, unfortunately, do have influence over what we think, what we say about, what we learn or allow ourselves to understand. For this reason I have left them out–what I am in the matter of gender, of religion, or political persuasion, of ethnicity or race–these are as useless to the ascertaining of Truth–what do we need to know except the words of an essay when the trial is to bear upon our reason some conclusion we might want to call human and humane? Yes, anonymity is a mask I wear, the expositor himself or herself or other-self does wear a mask; the role is a mask as the one’s we used to wear or could again wear on our theater stages, but then what is life but a theater, all the world we must remember, the stage upon which we perform many roles, embodying how many characters–and where we reenact the same character, time has in its passage transformed the role because we do know that role and character are not identical. The page too is a stage–the proverbial page which may be one or a hundred in the writing written by the writer; every writer is an actor; the role of author, the role of expositor, the role of narrator . . . I am beginning again to confound the terms character and role. I do not want to revisit Stanislavski here, as I had visited him in my time spent in the theater–yes, I worked in the theater, off-off broadway, how long ago now I will not divulge.
In this essay concerning gay marriage, a redefinition of marriage will be broached. How this redefinition of marriage is a long overdue reexamination of the institution, as well as a necessary adjunct to addressing the basic human right of choice and full sovereignty over one’s body, whether a person is a man, a woman or other, whether gay or straight or other, will be addressed and proved. Proof, of course, in our contemporary forensic sense of proof may not come to fruition, but proof as we have understood in the literary sense is intended and if I may be bold and a bit egoistic, resolved. I now offer at this inception these remarks in essay which will stand as the trial of the idea that gay marriage is a human right as well as a civil right, although only remaining an issue for those who do not understand the human right at the heart of the matter. 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 resonances in the words used–must be opened to investigation. This essay will attempt a 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 formed over millennia concerning the institution of marriage affects how we understand and respond to gay marriage today. These measures toward defining marriage or articulating how marriage has been defined will show us where we can go and how we can get there. This redefinition with respect to where gay marriage fits–all of which will be based on how all discussions of gay marriage have inherited the archaic way of phrasing what marriage is and who the players on the social stage of marriage get to be–is necessary.
Traditional marriage, for a long time coming, has needed a re-examination, an articulate re-definition. The institution of 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, which in turn has affected how men-centered societies have legislated against a woman’s right to choose a safe medical procedure when induced miscarriage is the preferred option during her pregnancy. Witch trials have often been an extension of this control, even when they have been coupled with or gathered among other impulses and drives quite distinct from socio-political control and repression. Witch-trial mentality and the individual psychology developed within has much to do with how gay marriage is perceived and understood in our contemporaneity. We are all a little bit the Puritan in our manners and concerning the matters that do not reflexively follow traditions or conventions, whether we understand them well enough to support them intelligently or not. Let it then be said tat gay marriage is marriage, and that there is no contradiction of the traditional facts of marriage by admitting this. The protection of everyone’s basic human rights is of supreme importance in the course of all human events, and the civil and human rights of homosexual couples demand 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. Any society that does not support and defend the civl rights of homosexual couples is a society insufficiently liberal and less than democratic. Americans do not hold a monopoly on hypocrisy, yet hypocrisy in manners and matters that contradict democratic principles seem glaring enough in our society, partly because we are the last best hope for humankind to live democratically and in peace, if I may expose a prejudice I still hold in spite of how many examples I have from our history that fly in the face of an affirmative commitment to democratic living.
If marriage is a ritual contract that 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 opted for; 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 secularly. 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. I am not offended by Jewish marriages or Hindu marriages–and I am not herein being facetious. The metaphysical differences between a Jewish and Christian marriage are not as glaring as some might assume from the topical or superficial distinctions they might innumerate. But the metaphysics of Christianity and that of Judaism are discrete. They are not one. A ritual Hawaiian ceremony or one from Papua New Guinea also does not offend my sensibility of what marriage is, although it might–it could. Nonetheless, how it offends me is my choice, not my obligation to interfere in the lives of others.
Any 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. I am puzzled by trying to imagine that if we allow gay men and women legal access to marriage, my marriage is somehow lessened or inflated or undermined . Religious freedom means religious toleration; however, theocracies are not about religious freedom. Theocratic pressure on government has nothing to do with the freedom of religion. Islamic Fundamentalism or Christian Fundamentalism find themselves on opposite sides of a singularly minted coin of intolerant motives, gestures, influence and power (where either is powerful) and authority (where either has authority). Both are notoriously homophobic. The issue of gay marriage and the issue of a woman’s right to choose are both part of the larger human rights issue of choice and self-determination which will become apparent as we progress in this essay. It is from this place that religious fundamentalism must be addressed, We cannot remain silent in face of pressure and postures from the conservative religious right. Fundamentalist pressures that arise out of ignorance and a want of experience, coupled with a decline in literacy and a general [humanist?] education have only manifested themselves in America and around the world in one or another grotesque reactionary monstrosity masquerading as free human expression or righteous defense of God, as if any one of us can know the mind of God.
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 Wollstonecraft 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. What does it say about a society when a woman in public without make-up is seen as somehow incomplete? But then what does it say about a democratic society where a homosexual man must wear the mask (dis-guise) of the heterosexual man?
The residually 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 marriage 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 further attempts through courts or legislation to impede this acceptance. 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. Bride and bridegroom; wife and husband; the etymology of these words is integral to several points to be made upcoming. How these words are ubiquitous in all English speaking cultures, repeated by virtually everyone at some time when discussing marriage or married people, in all preparations for marriage by wedding parties–yes, all around everywhere we go, irrespective of class, race, gender, sexual orientation even.
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. Agrarian societies manage human affairs much as they manage the affairs of their domestic animals. Human, though, is not animal, even though we are all of us Homo-Sapiens, another species of animal in the world. We must articulately address these salient points concerning our humanity if we are ever to understand that humanity can only flourish when it is a humane endeavor. 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 wolf man; 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. Has this not been a recurring cry by women for decades and in hindsight over the centuries. 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.
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 (and you are to 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 always reserved for the repressed or oppressed, never for the elite–the elite have rights in a society protected by law.) Could Misogyny be at the heart of opposition to gay marriage?
Regardless of how much the thinking about what constitutes marriage has changed, regardless of how we have modified or qualified our roles in marriage, much of the traditional views and expectations remain residual. Of course we have evidence to the contrary in our contemporaneity for this view, 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–so, not to beat a dead cow . . . most of what we need to say, need to articulate, to 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 virtually 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 a universal acceptance of gay marriage as a human right. Again, let me say that this human right precedes any law granting legal access for gay couples to the institution of marriage. It is not the law that gives anyone a human right. It is the law that respects or disrespects human rights.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 most specifically in our language; or how it has been presented through one or another channel in our media. So it does not take much to see that gay marriage is inevitably bound up with Women’s Rights issues, as I have already said. Thus it is bound up with the Human Rights issue of sole proprietorship of body, thus it is part of any discussion concerning the human right to choose, which, as mentioned above, is the right of self-determination, which again is the unalienable human right of sole ownership over body, which extends to a woman’s right to choose an abortion, as it also does to a gay man when he chooses whom he loves or even just fucks; all this true for lesbians in their choices as well. But why others are concerned for who another person has sex with is beyond me; any imagination that sees sexual expression as demonic or evil says more about the person thinking this way. Yes, Evil to him who evil thinks. I do draw the line between sex and violence, what happens when the inter-course ceases being human sexuality, in the broadest possible definition, and turns into violence and brutality. They are not the same thing, but a man having anal intercourse with another man is not different than a man have anal intercourse with a woman or a lesbian strapping on a dildo and having anal intercourse with another woman. Getting your kink on and violating another person non-consentially are not the same thing.
There are only two main points here in this essay to understand: the one, marriage is a contractual and/or ritual union in love between two adult humans; the other, that is the traditional one, 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–yet again–this is a human rights issue. Human Rights are inalienable for all members of the human family, if I may paraphrase from the opening of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a proclamation from the General Assembly of the United Nations, 10 December 1948. 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–and I am asking for patience if not indulgence for repeating myself–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. 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, gay marriage is an issue only in the minds of those who seek to separate this idea from Human Rights. 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. They would have to admit that what they are saying is that gay couples are somehow less than human. Is that where they want to go? Is that what they are wiling to say? Watch the hop-scotch played when this is raised.
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. I know that this is difficult for too many to understand or accept. But it is an integral point in any defense of Human Rights. 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 law in such a 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. Our acceptance of the dogma that there is no universal human nature–valid in the extent where it remains valid, invalid where and when it becomes invalid–has affected how we understand universal Human Rights. I hope they are herein addressed.
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, as I have asserted above, will forever change how partners in the marriage contract look at each other, are looked at by others (including the society within which they reside), are talked about or referred to; all of these apart from and forever distinct from how tradition has engaged these roles and used restrictive 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 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.
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 this loving union. If so–and I believe this to be the case–then how can we in all rationality oppose gay marriage?
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 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. I am not herein, though, advocating a Leave them to heaven position for us.
To have a look back at the idea of breeding being bound up with our notions of marriage, I have known many heterosexual couples, 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. I have known homosexual couples who were great and loving partners although they were not fruitful and had no intentions of being so. I have known heterosexual couples who could not have children, although they would have made excellent parents, or at least the general consensus in assumption was made by many who knew them.
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 married 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.
Perhaps it has been made clearer herein that many of the objections raised against gay marriage as not being legitimate marriage are be founded on an unspoken premise, and that is that gay men and lesbians, within their sexual practices, cannot be breeders. 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. An ancillary view concerning the preoccupation with breeding, producing a brood, extends to the ways laws and opinions have sought to manage a woman’s pending reproduction when pregnant. There have been states in this union that have passed laws forbidding a woman access to an induced miscarriage even when the pregnancy was the result of rape. These are societies that take breeding seriously enough to codify pregnancy and birth out of the hands of a woman’s choice. These are societies that have legislated in opposition to universal human rights. These are also societies that could reflexively legislate against marriage that has nothing to do with breeding or the potential to be fruitful. It does not take a great deal of thought to understand that 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. Again, neither does a heterosexual union 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 lastly about breeding is the fact that being unable to produce children is 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 of thinking, 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. What Gay Marriage offers us, as I have iterated above, is to 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.
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 if we are to examine what else is said about marriage, for marriage, how we have sought to define (re-define) the institution, we will see how marriage has already been under revision, even though it has persisted in maintaining contrary rhetorical structures and arguments. Breeding then is no longer the prime or overriding reason for couples to get married today; 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. We could come to a place where we allowed homosexual couples to be adoptive parents, thus the members of this non-fruitful union could be parents, although not breeders. Again, this would make parentage about love and presence as opposed to paternity and maternity. 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?).
So again, 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 word’s use 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.
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. Another point to make concerning our responses to the idea of gay men and women wanting to marry is rooted in our collective unconscious fear of sex–and we are afraid of it, and what we see in our popular culture’s expression of sex and sexuality often has inscribed in all subtext, fear, fear and more fear. Sex is certainly not for pleasure in our culture. If it is for pleasure, the pleasure is marred by obsession or at least identified as obsession whether it is or not. This of course is for the most part and not in every instance. 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, or anyone’s erotic journey’s, interludes or affinities–I will not address fetishes. 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 that is a stage, exist in different categories, whether associatively or dissociatively.
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 first 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. 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 adequately enough. If mentality does not change, individual psychologies will continue to be shaped according to an archaic framework. If it 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.
Gay marriage is therefore marriage liberation only if we allow it to be so. To disallow it is to walk hand in hand with misogyny. Once more, it is not only an issue of gay rights but of women’s right, of human rights, the rights of heterosexual men as well–in as much as gay marriage removes women from the yoke of traditional marriage or the contractural obligations in husbandry, both men and women are liberated. 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, men, women, transgender, transexual, black, white, Asian, Hindu, Muslim, Jew, Christian or Atheist–even Republicans and Democrats, politicians, lawyers, bankers and bureaucrats. Yes, 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.
Now 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 unconscious fear of sex and sexuality. I cannot watch television or mainstream movies without repeated hints at how negatively we feel, think and speak about sex; how sex is too often nasty or dirty or some other word pejorative. We create an unnecessary dichotomy between lust and love, separating them in a way that creates confusion, that confounds their mutual and reciprocal shared necessity. Being overwhelmed by a desire to fuck is almost invariably referred to in metaphors that speak of the demon nature of this desire to fuck; it is almost never referred to as godly. This fear in America is repressing our attitudes about isues concerning gay marriage, as well as abortion rights and gender identity. Our notions of personhood are also stunted by this notion of how sex and sexuality is first, fore-mostly and lastly about breeding. No one can fuck for the sake of fucking and call it love. 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 sexuality in a healthy way. They are all of a piece.