Saturday, February 28, 2004

Activism for Something That Shouldn't Need It
I realized that I rarely say anything about the outside world on this blog. Maybe I'm just really self-absorbed, maybe I'm just too busy to really pay attention to much in detail, maybe I'm just trying to use this time writing to live inside my own brain for a little while instead of always having to be turned "on" and outwardly focused on my students all the time. But for all that I might be busy, I do actually hear and read the news, and as my mother forever notes, I'm an opinionated person. So here's my opinion of Bush's latest farce of presidential leadership.

Here are some questions I give you: Why do people have such a hard time letting other people live their lives? Why are some people so convinced that homosexuality is wrong? Why do so many people appear to think that homosexual marriage in particular is a bad idea? And why in the name of all things rational and sensical would the president of the US (or rather, his advisors) think that it makes political sense to propose a Constitutional amendment to legally define marriage as being strictly between one man and one woman, specifically making it impossible for homosexuals to marry, and thus writing discrimination into the very foundations of the legal system of our country, the so-called bastion of tolerance, the great melting pot of all cultures? Why is the "leader of the free world" trying to lead us backwards into less fortunate times in history, as if none of us ever learned anything from past mistakes?

Seriously, it has never made any sense to me at all, from the first time I can remember thinking about it, that people would have a problem with homosexuality. Why should it offend other people if two other people fall in love with each other, and happen to be of the same sex? It strikes me as a lot worse if we demand those people settle for a relationship that conforms to social norms outwardly and leaves them miserable, angry, and bitter. The world already has enough of those. Likewise, why do people get so upset if they even think someone of the same sex thinks them attractive? I have tried over and over to explain to some people that they should accept it as a compliment and treat it like attentions from anyone else they aren't particularly interested in dating. This explanation seems very reasonable to me, but it doesn't seem to work for everyone. I don't think I'll ever understand the apparent visceral reaction they have.

Beyond that, let's just look at the idea of marriage. The very basis of marriage has changed drastically from what it used to be. It is no longer necessarily a contract for economic survival, the production of a new generation to make a familial workforce, a political binding of families. We now have the luxury of marrying for love, companionship, and joy, which truly is a recent phenomenon. (For an excellent history of marriage, try reading What is Marriage For?, by E.J. Graff.) What right have we to deny the current status of marital binding to homosexual couples, just because it wasn't an historical viable liaison?

There is nothing that will prevent homosexual couples from living together, from loving each other, from having lives, so why resort to such petty denials? You'd think that conservatives would prefer to see homosexuals married, so they would be bound to living "upright," monogamous lives, just like heterosexuals, but no. They'd rather see LGBT couples as completely separate, sub-class citizens, unworthy of basic rights. Perhaps denying them marriage makes the idea that such unions are immoral easier to believe. If they were allowed to get married, they might appear legitimate. Heaven forbid.

This is such an obvious issue to me, I cannot believe that Bush will get the amendment approved. However, the general populace of the world proves its stupidity over and over again, so I'm not just going to allow my disbelief dissuade me from doing anything. I'm actually going to take some of my poor grad student stipend and give it to the Human Rights Campaign's Million for Marriage drive. They're trying to raise $1 million to stop the amendment, as well as get 1 million names on their petition. I can't do much, but I can do this.

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