The recent decision by the California Supreme Court overturning a ban on gay marriage has, once again, thrust this issue into the malestrom of political debate, and, simultaneously, revived the sagging fortunes of groups on both sides.
On the liberal left, the gay marriage movement is stoking up its engines for a major push to legitimize–so they believe–homosexual relationships in a social as well as a civil sense, and make the final push for gay “equality.”
On the right, particularly the religious fundamentalist right, the scaremongering direct mail fundraisers are enjoying a major bonanza, frightening tens of thousands of little old ladies in Middle America to cough up $10, $20, and even $50 contributions to the Religious Right’s ongoing campaign to Save Marriage From Godless Queers.
Both sides are seriously deluded, albeit in different ways. Let’s start with the Godless Queers…
Marriage is all about children: otherwise, there is no real reason for it, and especially not in the modern world, where internet hook-ups, de facto polygamy, and rampant promiscuity are widely accepted. It is, in short, an economic institution, a financial framework for the bringing up of a new generation. Marriage is an agreement between two adults that they will, together, provide for the needs of their offspring, and, indeed, when the time comes, pass on their accumulated wealth.
This is not to say that childless marriages aren’t really marriages, or that all the emotional and psychological trappings of traditional marriage–monogamy, commitment, and, yes, love—are irrelevant. I am here talking about the civil institution of marriage, as it has evolved in the English-speaking world, and not the cultural phenomenon that has evolved over many millennia—something not created but rather co-opted by the State.
As Camille Paglia points out:
I think [gay marriage] is a flash point for antigay backlash…. That’s the problem: calling it a marriage. If you ask the working class guy on the street, ‘Do you believe in gay marriages?’ it makes him absolutely have a convulsion of revulsion. Marriage was traditionally meant for male and female. It was a bond for the raising of children, so it always had a procreative meaning too, and it has a long sacred tradition behind it. I hate any time that gay causes get mixed up with seeming to profane other people’s sacred tradition. The gay activist leadership has been totally clumsy about that. Rather than treating it in a serious way and saying ‘We respect the tradition of marriage,’ gay activism is associated with throwing balloons of blood at the steps of St. Patrick’s.
Pagilia is right. Marriage is not a civil institution but a religious-cultural tradition that the State has (so far) been forced to respect and recognize—and it is centered around procreation, which is not an issue most homosexuals have to deal with.
Which brings us to the central argument against gay marriage, which is that it is based on a heterosexual model of sexual and emotional relationships, one that just doesn’t fit the gay lifestyle. The whole idea of getting gays hitched is derivative of the central error of egalitarianism, the counterintuitive conception of human beings as being “equal” and, therefore, interchangeable—and therefore one-size-fits-all. Egalitarianism isn’t really a political ideology: it’s a religion, one quite capable of withstanding a sustained assault of clear evidence to the contrary.
I direct your attention to anecdotal yet telling evidence of this misconception by pointing out that, in the rush to the altar by many gay couples in California, the most prominent, and, I’ll bet, most numerous, were female couples. Women, of course, love the idea of marriage, and an old lesbian joke illustrates this penchant for connubial bliss:
What does a lesbian bring to a second date? —A moving van
The sequel to this knee-slapper, however, illustrates that the procreative principle works both ways: What does a lesbian bring to a third date? —A turkey baster ….
Lesbians can, and do, get pregnant: they raise children, thousands of whom are presently alive and kicking. In San Francisco, they make up a significant—and growing—part of the public school population. Lesbians, therefore, fit into the procreative model of marriage, even though they cannot reproduce without the passive participation of men who donate sperm. Gay men, on the other hand, are … men, and no man really wants to get married.