Monday, November 08, 2004

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: When the Personal Shouldn't Be Political

The New York Times > Opinion > Op-Ed Contributor: When the Personal Shouldn't Be Political

Okay. Let's have a little talk about the facts of life. We will never go back to the 1950s, no matter how hard people try, and when people other than white men imagine the possibility of doing so, it is understandably painful to think about. Black people- into the shadows. Women- back to your kitchens! Gays- back into the proverbial closet. The genie is out of the bottle. The Fab Five has spoken. They're here, they're queer, and yes, as much as it pains some, we have to get used to it.

As much as some people would like to have this magical time-travel experiment back to the Beaver Cleaver days, the idea of voting on "moral values" simply because you don't want to recognize the world we live in today is just a gussied-up version of bigotry and intolerance. I'm tired of telling myself to get used to the conservative perspective on things while their idea of reciprocation is to call Lefties traitors, heathens and morally bankrupt yuppies. I admire people who use their faith to help others. I respect people who use faith to better themselves. I, and I think Jesus is here with me on this, am disgusted by people who use faith to justify their bigotry.

I have openly gay friends. Many of the people who believe in Bush's kind of faith do not have openly gay friends, so I might be able to understand their lack of empathy on this subject. But I have gay friends who are, for the most part, a good sight more monogamous than many of my straight friends. The argument that gay people would abuse marriage because of their promiscuous lifestyle simply does not stack up when one considers that nearly 37 percent of men and 22 percent of women admit to having extramarital affairs (note also that this site makes the claim that Christian couples break up more than non-Christian couples for reasons of infidelity). People are unfaithful, regardless of orientation.

And nobody can tell me that "Who Wants to Marry my Dad" hasn't done more damage to the sanctity of marriage than any gay couple could.

A lot of anti-civil-union folk like to play the childbearing card. Since it is impossible for gay unions to produce children, they are not valid. Excuse me if I am about to reveal more than you all wanted to know, but there is a fairly good chance that my male/female marriage, should I choose to have one, will not produce children: either by choice or by my own physical inability. The child argument stings for me, because it invalidates the marriages of every infertile couple on the planet. But it seems that this is the best that they can argue.

But the main point I am trying to make here is that the Constitution should never be used to keep a group of people from having rights. As much as the anti-gay-union lobby likes to talk about slippery slopes and how we will go straight from civil unions to incest and polygamy, the simple fact remains that a far scarier slope will be created if we start putting words in the constitution that bar a group from enjoying certain rights simply because of who they are. The Constitution should protect minorities who are outvoted by the majority (are you listening, Antonin Scalia?).

Imagine what could happen if the Constitution started banning other rights now enjoyed by people in the minority. Would they ban marriages between people who were mentally handicapped? The elderly (bottom line of a lot of anti-union arguments is that people don't want to think about gay sex. On that line of reasoning, you better believe they'd outlaw elderly marriages . . .)? To me, the consequences of taking people's rights away by a Constitutional amendment are far more frightening than any gay marriage.

We can't go back to the 1950s. And it would seem the difference between progressives and conservatives is that we have enough sense not to want to.

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