Saturday, July 6, 2013

In Defense of Same Sex Marriage

Just so it's out there on record - I don't do a lot of profile picture changing, but it doesn't mean I'm not massively in favor of same sex marriage, etc. I also don't wear flag pin but I love America.
We have a lot of issues in our society with how we tie gender identity and sexual preference to identity and to the relationships we form with other people, organizations, etc. I have so much respect for the people who choose to publicly be who they are and with who they love, meeting the rough and jagged edges of our culture head on, and bleeding on the cutting edges of our society and slowly wearing them smooth.

The "traditional marriage" that those who oppose same-sex marriage hold up as a sacred thing, not to be tampered with, is not the wholly unimpeachable tradition it's made out to be in such traditions. Like almost every other aspect of society, marriage has undergone continual change in the modern era as gender roles have been redefined to acknowledge the humanity and rights of women in the home, the workplace, and society at large. These changes have been hard, but they have been for the better, slowly peeling away the unconscious associations of sex/gender with personhood that are embedded deeply in our society.

I, and I suspect many other men of my generation and before, are brought up in this world and learn, are taught, a sortof “when-harry-met-sally” view of relationship to women: men and women can’t be friends, because no matter what, the relationship between a man and a woman is ALWAYS defined in terms of sexual coupling; even when a man and a woman are not together, it is viewed as them actively not having sex with one another at least on the male side. Thus, before you ever get to the person on the other side, there’s a ‘problem’ to be solved. An object in the way, a screen of rules and questions that makes it that much harder to see the depth of the person on the other side of it. Yes, of course there are biological bits to it, but biology is often a good goddamn excuse for what we don’t want to change because its hard. So we blame our dicks, or their dicks, or whatever, and we keep seeing these other people as complicated machines, problems to be solved, instead of as the reflections of selfhood that they are. And it’s fine. Because it’s our biological nature. Our original sin. Can’t be changed, only regretted.

There’s a passage from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (the first one) that’s often quoted in traditional marriages. You probably know the one -- it starts out, “Love is patient, love is kind...” It’s a wonderful passage about loving another person; it is most emphatically NOT about traditional marriage as a special relationship in this regard. The context is that of loving EVERYONE in this way regardless of their unqiue qualities. It’s about not resenting those that appear to be better than you, or thinking yourself better than others in a different position.

Does same-sex marriage force us to reexamine and change our definition of what a “traditional” marriage is? Of course it does. But we’ve been doing that for over a century and with largely successful results. Same-sex marriage forces us to separate our ideas of what loving another person is, what being married to another person is, from sexual identity. In so doing, it forces us as a culture (or at least me), to stop using the gendered shorthand we use when thinking about those we care about, and might, just might, help us see each other as people. For love does not delight in evil, but rejoices in truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perserves.

No comments: