Before the election, I read several moving blog posts explaining why Californians should vote No on Prop 8, which bans gay marriage in the state.
These posts usually showcased a friend or relative who had a same sex partner. We are shown how this couple went through struggles to have children, and are now happily raising a child. How could you not admire this couple? Are they not loving parents? Aren’t they raising their children with as much care and affection as any straight couple? This is a FAMILY! Why shouldn’t they have the right to be married and express this special love?
Something bothered me about the tone of these posts. They were buying into the same Biblical view of marriage as the opponents of gay marriage: that marriage exists for procreation. The main argument presented was that “Gays can Be as Good Parents as Straights.” Not surprisingly, most of these posts were written by parents.
Yesterday, I saw quite a few links to Keith Olbermann’s take on the subject. In the six minute special commentary, he makes a plea for “love and the spread of happiness.” The issue is all “about the human heart.”
“The world is barren enough… with so much hate in the world, so much meaningless division… this is what your religion tells you to do?… this is what your heart tells you to do?… You are asked to stand now on a question of love.”
While I was touched by the power of the commentary, something bothered me about this argument as well. If parents were pushing the Biblical/procreation angle of marriage, Keith Olbermann was using the lingo of the Renaissance courtly lovers, as if he were standing outside the balcony of the fair maiden, whispering words like “heart” and “love.”
Why does marriage need to be about heart and love? Marriage has had different meanings throughout history. For most history, it was more of a business arrangement. It is not my role to decide why people get married. Straight couples can get married for all sorts of reasons. There are arranged marriages. People marry for money. Out of loneliness. Out of fear. For me, the best argument for gay marriage is that — gays should be able to do what straights do, even if it for a dowry. Even if the marriage is a terrible mistake.
This weekend, I went out for sushi with two friends, who happen to be two guys in a relationship. Being the only straight man of the group, I was the only one who couldn’t hold my liquor, and I got drunk on two glasses of sake. They invited me to sleep on their couch, which I did. I wish I could tell you some exciting “gay-oriented” stories about the night, but nothing very unusual occurred, not even any dancing to “It’s Raining Men.” As stereotypes, my friends are very poor gay characters. Nothing like the guys on “Will and Grace.” When I tried to tell them about seeing Stephen Sondheim’s new musical “Road Show” at the Public Theater, and how I am seeing a revival of “Pal Joey” next week at Studio 54, they just looked bored.
“How gay!” they muttered to themselves, laughing at me.
Even when I undressed, I was hoping that one of them would at least mention my new striped boxer briefs, but I didn’t even get any glances. My friend seemed more interested in me showing him how to use Facebook.
Later that night, my two friends had a little “couple’s fight.” From what I gather, one of them was supposed to have deposited a check in the bank, but he forgot, and the other accused him of being irresponsible. It was an argument not dissimilar to hundreds that I have had with Sophia.
Would I recommend this gay couple to get married? Probably not. Although they love each other, and probably would make great parents, there are still some unresolved “issues” between the two.
But if they want to get married, go for it. Why should the law stop them from doing the same crazy things that straight people do?
That’s my argument.