What’s the Big Deal with Gay Marriage Anyway?

Earlier today, Bill Swallow twittered about a group of anti-gay-marriage protesters, saying:

Bad photo, but there are people with “Honk for straight marriage” signs in Clifton Park. #intolerance http://yfrog.com/57t7vj

To this, I replied:

@techcommdood I’m all for straight marriage, as I am convinced that it can co-exist with gay marriage just fine.

I feel that this needs some clarification.

I am very fortunate to call a large group of very diverse people my friends. Knowing that some of them are homosexuals feels as normal to me as knowing that some come from far-away countries or have black skin.

Among these friends are two gay guys from San Francisco who have gotten married about a year ago after having been a couple for almost two decades. Whenever we meet, I can be sure that it’s going to be a grand time filled with great conversations and lots of laughter, as both are wonderful people: they are intelligent, funny, witty, caring, cheerful… Why are they all that?

Because they are intelligent, funny, witty, caring, and cheerful… Those traits reflect their character — it’s who they are. It is not, however, “because they are gay”, let alone “although they are gay”.

There just is no correlation at all between their being gay and their being wonderful people. In fact, I cannot see a correlation between a person’s sexual orientation and any of their personal traits. Much rather, sexual orientation is a stand-alone characteristic. If you will, it is merely a straight fact1 that doesn’t say anything about what that person is like, what makes that person tick, or what their core values are.

To put it bluntly, bastard are bastards because they are bastards, and great people are great people because they are great people, and in no way is this determined by their sexual orientation, color of skin/eyes/hair, height, weight, or what have you.

And while we’re at it, the same holds true for dangerous people, too. The notion that a person will pose a threat to the morals of the neighborhood just because they’re gay just makes me shake my head, but I honestly worry about the overall worldview of those who go so far as to claim that a homosexual person can “make” other people (usually the kids next door) homosexual.

“But homosexuality is a choice!”, I sometimes hear people say. But is it? Think back to your puberty and ask yourself when you made your conscious(!) choice in this matter: did you really have to wonder about whether you feel attracted to the opposite or the same sex and then freely pick one? I can’t answer that for you, of course, but I know for sure that, in my case, my body answered that question for me by giving me some perfectly non-ambiguous signs of which gender got me excited…

So, let’s go back to that tweet about straight marriage and gay marriage co-existing peacefully, shall we? In hindsight, and without this bit of context I have provided here, my tweet may appear as an attempt to ridicule the whole topic. That is definitely not the case.

This is a very serious human rights issue, and I do support the view that nations that claim to honor civil liberties must let both straight and gay couples marry and grant to them equal rights. In both cases, the marriage certificate is just an officialized piece of paper, documenting the bond between two people, which bond is an expression of their love, affection, and respect for each other. Nothing more, and nothing less; straight or not.

As for religious marriage ceremonies, I don’t have any reservations about leaving the decision for or against gay marriage up to the religious organizations themselves, and I honestly do respect those decisions. That’s because I believe in the separation of state and church, and it is the state that must guarantee equal rights for all, whereas religions are not obliged to.2

To put it another way, while most religions make judgements about who is a true believer, and who isn’t, that powerful, revolutionary-at-the-time phrase “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” does not define any exceptions. Not one.

So what about the question in the title of this post? Nope, gay marriage really isn’t a big deal at all. Well, OK: at least in an ideal world, it wouldn’t be.

  1. Yes, that’s a super-cheap pun, but I just couldn’t resist. 

  2. Do note that it is, again, the democratic, secular state that grants this freedom to the religious organizations, and not the other way round! 

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