Monday, October 12, 2009

Keep Your Mud To Yourself--Free the Rainbow

I have been avoiding this blog installment for several weeks. A couple of my Gentle Readers asked for more information about some things I said in my very first installment. Specifically about my comment that I support 'civil unions' and oppose 'gay marriage'. The other question was about my Celtic/Buddhist spiritual leanings. I have avoided responding to these queries because I'd prefer to leave politics and religion out of my blog--there are plenty of them that cover nothing but. However, since I asked folks for subject topics it is only appropriate that I honour their requests.

Let me state here and now that what follows are MY opinions and I do not expect anyone to agree or advocate what I think. I'll try to clarify my viewpoint on the whole 'gay marriage' issue today. Religion will have to wait for another time--after I install the bullet-proof glass in all the exterior windows.

What do I have against 'gay marriage'? In a word: semantics. Any time you throw a defining word in front of a subject it dispels the entire notion of equality--which is the whole point of the drive for recognition. Marriage is marriage regardless of who comprises the couple. Perhaps we should begin with my definitions of the subjects. Civil unions are comprised of any two people of whatever gender combination entering into a committed relationship that is recognized by local, state, and federal laws. It includes all the rights, responsibilities, and benefits of conventional marriage. This means that either spouse has the right of survivorship to inherit an estate, have binding input where healthcare and custodial decisions are concerned, and receive compensation from insurance companies and retirement funds. Yes, 'civil union' sounds very much like conventional 'marriage'. The difference between the two is that 'gay marriage' really frightens and pisses off Conservatives, Hard-Line Christians, and Conservative Hard-Line Christians. Apparently they believe that 'marriage' belongs to them exclusively on religious and moral grounds and to allow their fellow citizens who happen to be gay (many of them equally religious) the right to marry will just muddy the water and turn 'marriage' into a farce. Sorry, but a 50% divorce rate and multiple marriages punctuated by infidelity within the heterosexual population pretty much takes care of the 'farce' department. I am not opposed to the institution--just the term. If you put the word gay in front of marriage it automatically negates the equality just as putting the word 'mixed' in front of marriage did 40 years ago. Somehow 'mixed marriage' just wasn't on the same level as 'same-race' marriage. And yet, today, married people of differing ethnicities are equally protected under the law in this country provided they are of opposite genders. I believe that any two people of legal age who truly love one another and think they have a shot at making their relationship work should be allowed to join in a legally recognized commitment. Regardless of race, religion, or sexual orientation. To badly paraphrase our most cherished national documents: All men (human beings) are created equal and have the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. No one or group has the right to deny their fellow humans privileges that they freely enjoy themselves. It's not about religion or religious beliefs. It's about equality and civil rights. Separation of Church and State. Call it whatever you want to, it comes down to fairness and common decency between all law-abiding tax paying citizens of this nation.

Gay people have come a long way since Stonewall. Soap operas, prime-time television, even their own cable networks have brought them into the mainstream. The opposite of love is not hate. The opposite of love is fear. We always fear what we don't understand. Or choose not to understand. Rather than spending millions on campaign ads for and against the issue, marching and protesting pro and con the subject, we'd all be better off focusing our resources and energy on dispelling fear of the unknown by working toward understanding what's truly at stake here. The equal right to love.

Perhaps then the waters would begin to clear when everyone stopped throwing mud into it.