On Wednesday Erik posted a picture of two (presumably) married costumed lesbians, kissing while holding a sign saying Liberty, a sign saying Justice, and a child that is either from the Village of the Damned or Damien. It was one of those posts that I liken to the embedding of new movie trailers – kind of a short “that’s cool” moment where we take a quick, happy breath before diving back into figuring out who the real Americans are. As I write this, however, we are already over 160 comments thanks to a wee web-by firestorm. The cause of this firestorm? A post from ArtDeco, which I don’t even have to go back and reread to make sure I don’t misquote:
I started off being irritated by this “yuck,” and posted a comment or two that in retrospect I wish I could take back. (Sorry, Deco. I was a jerk. Consider this my public apology.) I was with most everyone else, agreeing that the “yuck” was just not appropriate. As the threads grow and more people chime in, however, I think I am coming to a different conclusion about the “yuck.” I am starting to wonder if I don’t in a way have great respect the “yuck,” and find it more productive then the rational arguments that Erik is hoping for.
When trying to explain his reasons for saying “yuck,” Deco states: “Homosexual affiliations are user-defined associations constructed around people’s sexual disorders.” To Deco, presumably, homosexuality is similar to, say, bestiality or scatophilia – things that make me say “yuck.” I could not disagree with Deco’s conclusions more – and I hasten to point out that 99% of the professional mental health community would agree with me – but it is an honest argument, and one that allows us to quickly get to the nut:
If you think the homos are a bunch of sexual deviants that prey on society, or if you simply find them “yucky” at some base level, you are probably against SSM. If you think that gays and lesbians are essentially like everyone else – save for the sex/gender* they are attracted to – and just as capable of being either positive community members or total bastards as straights, than you are probably for SSM.
When put like this SSM seems like an issue we can quickly decide about as a society.
Instead, SSM seems like one of those issues where the more that we ask for logical arguments, the more we get entrenched in (from my vantage point) insincere philosophical public policy discussions that feel like they’re designed to create inertia.
Off the top of my head, here are the most often used arguments against SSM, along with (to my mind) the obvious rejoinder that sets us off in circular go-nowhere arguments:
Anti-SSM Argument: Marriage has been defined one way for thousands of years.
Rejoinder: Actually, no. Marriage 1,000 years ago was nothing like marriage today. In fact, you only have to go back a hundred or two years ago to get to a time that it was mainly a property issue. When I was growing up the very definition of marriage excluded me marrying an African American, so obviously we can and do change the definition to meet our society’s changing needs.
Anti-SSM Argument: The state should only be concerned about marriages that will or might have children. Therefore, we just can’t have SSM.
Rejoinder: But then why is it OK for post-menopausal women to get married? Also, I’m assuming from this argument that you are OK with SSM if the couple agrees to adopt and raise a child, right?
Anti-SSM Argument: I would have no problem with it, but the Bible says you can’t.
Rejoinder: But the Bible also insists that we (insert your favorite archaic stoning law here) and we all agree not to do that.
Anti-SSM Argument: It’s just that I think it should be a State’s rights issue.
Rejoinder: Awesome! Then I’d like you to sign this petition to make SSM legal here in your home state, so that we can all… hello? Hello?
Anti-SSM Argument: Allowing SSM would destroy the sanctity of my own marriage.
Rejoinder: But if you… wait, what? How? OK, now you’re just making shit up.
I’m sure there are some who arrive at these points by pure Socratic reasoning, but for the majority I strongly suspect that deep down each of these anti-SSM arguments are simply a “yuck” dressed up pretty. These rational, logical arguments allow us to say “yuck” without the unseemliness of actually saying “yuck.” And they are getting us nowhere, or at best are forcing us to move to a public policy consensus at glacier-like speeds.
So if Deco thinks “yuck,” then I say more power to him for saying so. Those that agree with him should say “yuck,” those of us that don’t should argue that gays are just like everyone else, and we can let the undecideds look at that ever-increasing out-of-the-closet mainstream gays and lesbians and decide which of us is correct.
If we go that route, I’m confident I’ll like the outcome.
*Can we please not go there?