I began touting my true liberal agenda at an early age. When I was five years old I was kicked out of Sunday school (yes, Sunday school) for saying that I didn’t like God if he was going to send my Hindu friend from school to hell for not accepting Jesus in to her life. In an exciting twist, mom was quite proud of me and I was saved from ever going back to the place of singing “Jesus loves me” – except, apparently, if you’re Hindu or, heaven forbid, like Hindu people.
I fall solidly in to the liberal camp, and have done for most of my life. When I was five, I wanted to be the President, but quickly modified that to wanting to be the Secretary General of the United Nations (and Kofi Annan’s inspiration kept that one going for years!) so that I could save the world. Most people were just surprised that a five-year old knew that the UN existed, let alone that it had a Secretary General. While most little girls wanted to be ballerinas, I could tell you that Botrous-Ghali had the job that I wanted. Growing up, I watched the news and read the newspapers and had opinions on things and admired awesome people like Nelson Mandela.
I am a left-leaning, Guardian-reading, liberal feminist bleeding heart liberal who opposes religious hatred, war (and pretty much any fighting), unfettered access to guns, racism (and all other unpleasant isms), and all forms of discrimination. Essentially, I’m pretty ideologically predictable. I think we should protect our environment, tax rich people lots of money to run a great welfare state, provide universal access to healthcare, have [good] sex education in schools, let women make their own decisions about their bodies, spread awareness of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, rehabilitate our prisoners, pay women equally for equal work and enforce better paid parental leave – for men and women. I also – predictably – think that gay people should be allowed to get married. And adopt children. And inherit their spouse’s estate. I.e. that gay people should be treated exactly the same as straight people. Funny that, that principle of equality.
It’s a big deal at the moment. There is support for (and hatred of) DOMA in the United States and arguments over the very same issue in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Recent polls in all of these countries have support for marriage equality at an all-time high – it’s even a significant majority in New Zealand, where a marriage equality bill is partying its way through parliament. Places like the Netherlands, Argentina and South Africa (and others) have pipped everyone else to the post and legalised same-sex marriage, but opposition persists. And the arguments are always the same: marriage is for procreation; the Bible says that…; what about the Christians; what about the children; you can’t just change the definitions of things; children need a mum and dad etc etc, each equally bigoted.
I have a response to all of them.
1. Christianity (the Bible, Jesus, sin, all of the religious-y things) and the definition of marriage
Just because you believe in one particular conception of the universe, doesn’t mean everyone agrees with you. You are more than entitled to continue to believe whatever you would like, but do not attempt to force it on everybody else – they don’t share your opinion! I don’t care if you think that “lying with a man as with a woman” is a sin, for people who don’t believe what the bible says the whole “sin” thing is a non-issue. Believe what you like, just don’t force the rest of us to agree. And if you think that allowing gay marriage is forcing you to agree, think again. No one is forcing you to get gay-married. You don’t have to participate at all. It’s not encroaching on your ideals – unlike your ideals, which are encroaching on ours.
Christians, marriage is not something that you own. “Marriage” is a blanket English term that is applied with equal meaning to a union between two people from a variety of cultures and religious groups – Muslims, Jews, Hindus, traditional African cultures, atheists – everyone gets married. Soon, with any luck, gay people will be able to too. You do not have a monopoly on the term “marriage” or the “correct” way to practice it. If you want to “own” the definition of the word, feel free to apply the Judeo-Christian conception of marriage to the Hebrew word for it, it’s the only one you have any real claim to.
The State is responsible for deciding who can and cannot get married – they are the ones that grant you a marriage license and administer the legal aspects of the affair. You can proclaim your love for God and Jesus and vow in front of a pastor in a church to your heart’s content, but if you don’t sign the little bit of paper, you aren’t legally married. It isn’t up to the church, so the church should mind its own business.
2. Marriage is for procreation
This argument is rather silly, really. By this logic, old people, infertile people, people who have simply decided not to have children or to adopt would all be unable to get married. It’s made even sillier by the fact that heaps of gay people are/want to be parents.
3. Children need a mother and a father
Nonsense. Children need [a] loving guardian[s] – irrespective of sex or sexual orientation. It is important for children to have all kinds of role models – grandparents, teachers, brothers and sisters, parents – but it is in no way essential for children to have a mother and a father in the classic white-picket-fence-2.4-children kind of way. Some single parents do an amazing job, some two-parent families are horrible environments to be in and many, many gay people are/would be amazing parents.
Also, don’t quote science on this one (or the procreation one). Much like the “scientific” evidence that anti-vaccine campaigners use, it’s all nonsense. I can picture Science standing there, with her hands up in the air, saying “I am not responsible for this one. Don’t look at me!” Unless you can provide some actual, credible citations, I’m not even interested in hearing you out.
4. What next? Polygamy?
Whoah. Steady on. I see what you’ve done there! The classic slippery slope argument! “Next thing we know, people will be wanting to marry their dogs!” No. Dogs are not consenting adults, so it’s not even remotely analogous. Polygamy is not the travesty that many people think it is – provided it’s consensual (always the key word!), I can see no real issue with it and many countries/cultures allow it under the status quo. So no, gay marriage won’t lead to dog-marriage and the complete moral degradation of society. Unsurprisingly.
5. What about my straight marriage?
What about it? It changes nothing. Straight people will still be married and will still be able to get married – in a church if they want to! It’s just that gay people will be able to get married too. Unless your spouse is in the very back corner of a closet and the legalisation of gay marriage would cause them to leave you for someone of the same sex, I fail to see how gay marriage has anything to do with you.
You know what will happen when marriage equality is achieved? Gay people will get married. That’s it.
I am not gay. I am just a straight girl with a reasonably good grasp of the humanity of a world full of gay people who deserve to be able to love one another however they see fit – if they want to commit to one another (a very conservative ideal, really) and raise a family, who are we to decide that their love is not enough? Love is love, and all loves are created equal.
My little sister is gay. She has a beautiful girlfriend who loves her dearly. She’s happier than I’ve seen her in years. I long for a world in which she has the same rights as I do to legally marry the person she loves. And I have so much respect for all of the men and women who are fighting for the rights of my little sister and others like her. Thank you.
“Damn right I support it.”
The title of this post –  – comes from one of my favourite pro-marriage equality protest signs. Check them all out here. They’re great.