Thursday, April 9, 2009

Same Sex Marriage Heating Up in New Jersey

The fight for same sex marriage is heating up in New Jersey. After Iowa, Vermont and now DC accepting out of state same sex marriages (thank you magda) the fight is turning to New Jersey and New York for that matter. Opponents, however realize this and are slamming $1.5 million dollars into the state to stop it. "The National Organization for Marriage" is leading the charge and its goal is to "activate those people who already agree with us."

The organization's television commercial, called "Gathering Storm," asserts same-sex marriage advocates "want to change the way I live" by forcing everyone to accept that same-sex marriage is acceptable. That means wedding photographers and marriage counselors could be labeled bigots and sued if they oppose working with same-sex couples, the group said.

The problem you see, is when I go to these websites and try and find out just what these "traditional marriage" advocates believe, it is a tough task. What exactly do they believe? That same sex marriage hurts regular marriage? That is an obvious claim, but why? That question is much more difficult to find. Basically, the argument is that traditional marriage is defined by a man and a woman, not by same sex couples and it has been for millenniums. That is it. Nothing else. It is pure and simple homophobia. Traditional marriage up until 1967 was also defined by people of the same race only until Loving v. Virginia changed that.

There is also something wrong with the traditional argument. It does not hold up to scrutiny. According to a book: "Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage" an exhaustive look at marriage across all cultures, marriage for love goes back about 200 years and that might be pushing it. Putting aside for a moment the gross disproportionality impact that "traditional marriage" has placed on women, Coontz says marriage was an economic and political institution, not to be decided by something as trivial as love. This is why marriage was left up to the community, neighbors and parents so they could choose the "right" partner for you. A union that would work for economic and political reasons as well as reproductive reasons. We see this today in many cultures who still practice this type of arrangement.

Not until the late eighteenth century (1780's) did individuals in Europe start marrying for personal affection and even these marriages were at the behest of the male, an institution that purely and profoundly placed women in a secondary role well into the 20th century and arguably still today. Coontz says that many men sought out women who came from wealthy families so as to acquire "standing" in society. This is where the notion of "marrying up" comes from. Our own beloved George Washington owned almost nothing until he married Martha.

The argument is a farce, a pure and simple farce. Yet, our laws based on this notion cloaked in homophobia reflect it. Yes, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and now New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island close behind we are breaking the cycle of nonsense. It is slow, however and the draconian law of DOMA which denies couples federal benefits even if the state allows same sex marriage stands with no end in sight.

As long as we know we are living in a farce. It isn't the only one.

1 comment:

estanard said...

Are we fighting homophobia, or are we fighting religion? Or both? As long as religion can be used to justify murder, slavery, misogyny, apartheid, homophobia, etc., we will maintain a merciless existence. Religion continues to be an amazingly pervasive force, an overwhelming abuse of and justification for power. Religion is not just a radical sector of society. It is everywhere, in every society, practiced at every level, from being deceptively insidious to brazenly criminal. People use god to justify anything and everything, because how dare we argue with god? If we dare challenge god, we can never win. Okay, then. So should our goal should be to obliterate religion, or alter the nature and meaning of it? Whew, what a lofty goal. But, if we do that, what would take its place? What other power structure would be so pervasive, hold so much authority, that it could justify killing? Would we substitute something else for religion? Probably. But what? Could anything be as powerful as god? In this day and age, maybe not, given how far we've come. Or maybe so; maybe it is just as simple as pressing the panic button and firing the missile on a whim. Breaking down the theory and conjecture, all I know is that every time I buck a Republican, his/her defense is that I'm bucking god and that I should be ashamed for even entertaining the thought. Because how can I argue with god? How? We cannot win when our brothers and sisters pit us against an imaginary, omniscient force with infinite power--who conveniently also happens to agree with them on every front.