Thursday, June 07, 2012
Gay Marriage; Guest Blog by Bill McCamley
“These people who are making a big deal out of gay marriage?... Why not? We're making a big deal out of things that we shouldn't be making a big deal out of... Just give everybody the chance to have the life they want.” Clint Eastwood.
Love between two people is wonderful and recognizing that love for all people should be legal.
That being said, I have an admission to make. I really don't know why, but as a straight guy I get very uncomfortable seeing two men together showing affection. Something about it, until recently, made me feel downright squeamish. Many straight friends have admitted similar strong feelings, and they are so powerful that we use them instead of reason to make marriage laws.
In discussing this subject for years, three arguments become clear when denying gay people the right to marry. However, when examined closely each fails to hold up.
Religion. The Bible has many deep, worthwhile lessons. Loving your neighbor, unbounded forgiveness, and care of the less fortunate are so important to any community. But if laws were only based on strictly Biblical teachings, bad things would happen. For instance, divorce for any reason other than cheating would be forbidden (Matthew 19:9) and tattoos would be illegal (Leviticus 19:18). So, wouldn't you expect that people who use the Bible to deny marriage for gays and lesbians argue as forcefully for these and other Biblical messages? They don't, and their use of the Bible as an argument for lawmaking loses its strength.
The Gay Agenda. Many fear that gay people will use politics to force their ways on those who disagree with them. They view the marriage debate as an assault on a personal view of natural order. But this happens any time people fight for equality and those exact arguments have been used for years against issues like women getting the right to vote, racial integration of the military, and allowing black and white people to marry. Today, most everyone recognizes that these changes created a better, more vibrant, and tolerant country. Gay marriage will too.
Children. The most consistent argument against equality is that commitment and love are not sufficient reasons to alter the definition of marriage; it should only be about raising children. If this is true, then should women past menopause be allowed to marry? What about sterile men? Or straight couples who choose not to have children? I personally know couples in each of these categories and the positive effect that marriage, with the love and support it signifies, has had on their lives. Most Americans agree. So howccan it be used to deny that same right to gay couples?
There is another, bigger reason to support legalizing gay marriage: the definition of a person.
For two summers, I worked at a camp called Seeds of Peace.Teenagers from the Middle East came to the US and talked about the problems in their areas with kids from the other side. It led to a deep understanding about how people justify horrible actions.
Often in these conflicts, the only thing many on one side know about the other is what they hear from other people or the news. So to many Israelis, Palestinians are not “people”; they are terrorists who blow up buses. To many Palestinians, Israelis are not “people”; they are jack-booted thugs who destroy homes. This substitution makes it easier to accept anger and violence. People weren't being harmed, only “thugs” or “terrorists.” The camp's whole point is to get these kids to look at each other as humans. Doing so makes dialogue easier and violence less justifiable.
The same problem exists with gay people. For better or worse our laws reflect our community's views, and the message we send by denying gay marriage is simple: Your love defines you. Our society's definition of an evolved love involves marriage. Therefore gay people, who cannot get married, are not people; they are “queers”, “abominations”... or worse.
The effect of this is obvious as debate over gay marriage has taken center stage. For instance, preachers have been seen all over the news and the Internet, calling for parents to punch their children if they act effeminate, advocating for confinement of all gay people in concentration camps, and, even asking the government to simply execute gays. To them, discrimination and violence against gays and lesbians is not only acceptable, but good. Yes, these people are extremists. But their calls for hate trickle down, and the consequences are horrific to kids.
Gay teenagers and lesbians who come out are at a much higher risk of being kicked out of their home, being abused, and committing suicide then straight teens. Recent high-profile suicides in California, Iowa, and New Jersey of gay teens bullied and threatened by classmates and roommates only serve to give a gruesome face to these statistics and illustrate the intolerance and fear which many gay Americans experience on a daily basis.
So if you are straight when you consider this issue, you may feel like I do – an initial repulsion. But when that happens I ask only one thing. Think. Understand that base reactions are not good enough to make or justify laws. If you do, I am confident you will come to the same conclusion I did.
Life is tough. If you are lucky enough to find true love with someone, whatever gender, who gives it back; if you want to to support that person so you can cherish life's good times and help them get through the bad together; if you want to get married, committing those values to each other; then you shouldn't be stopped.
All of us should support you with everything we've got.