Sunday, May 10, 2009

The State of the Union

I have become increasingly persuaded that opposition to gay marriage is not just about homophobia. I say this not to belittle the persecution, threats, and general horrors perpetrated by those opposed to gay marriage - those are awful and it makes me sick to my stomach.

But I do think the gay marriage opposition is about what gayness means in general: redefined boundaries of what it means to be a man, and what it means to be a woman. This post at Pandagon adds more fuel to that fire, despite being ostensibly about some Georgia preacher who thinks women should, essentially, stop talking back to their menfolk and learn their role in life - submission. One of the cliched things you hear from those opposed to women's rights is that a man should be able to get peace and quiet, and even if he's not boss at work, he should be boss in his own home - he's the husband, the father, and the head of the house. But how does that work when you have two husbands? Who is the boss then? Likewise, the Quiverfull movement - a disgusting piece of ideology if ever there was one - teaches women to be, essentially, brood mares to their husband's tribe, submissive in all things. "Father knows best" is one of the tenets it teaches, but of course, if you have two mummies, there is no father - so where does that leave discipline and order? Who is going to tell these women how to live their lives if there's no man?

So it's not just about being gay, it's about how gay relationships redefine societal roles, and the traditional submission of women to men. And so gay marriage does threaten people.

It's interesting, around the time of the elections, there was a series of ads - sadly, too little, too late - in California which had straight married couples revealing the shocking news that their marriages were not directly impacted by gay marriage being legal; they were still married, still in love, still happy. The sky had not fallen. But I actually don't buy the argument that gay marriage doesn't affect straight marriages. If gay couples can get married for the tax benefits, or immigration benefits, or "for the children," that does make straight marriages less "special," because now these things are open to everyone, not just the people fortunate enough to fall in love with someone who has "opposite" genitals (to misquote Miss California). Yet it makes straight marriages much, much, more special, because now everyone who loves each other can do so. The privilege is revoked, but the fact that you love someone and they love you, and the state and your friends and family can all recognise that - that is special.

No comments: