At the W Hotel in San Francisco the reading material is thin. There's USA Today and, oh yes, USA Today. And in thumbing through last Thursday's paper, which took me all of thirteen point six five minutes, what most grabbed my attention were the letters commenting on New York passing gay marriage.
There were four letters total, two pro New York's decision, and two anti. (Interesting to note, the dissenting voices were given double the space.) One of the naysayers was from Texas and the other Ontario.
What's wrong, Ontario, did folks stop listening to your vitriol in your neck of the woods, where gay marriage is legal? Did you so want to be heard that your only recourse was to reach across the border, finding voice in the Letters section of USA Today?
To support their same sex marriage argument, the two anti letter writers cited the Constitution, the Bible, our Founding Fathers, American values, scientific data or lack thereof, and Merriam-Webster; an auspicious grouping to say the least.
On this week celebrating our Independence, it is my intention and indeed civic duty to speak out against these recycled arguments. Mommy has sat back too long and no USA Today sound-offs are going to get the better of me.
Texas cited the following Merriam-Webster definition of marriage, "the state of of being united to a person of the opposite sex...", which firstly, made me question the decade his dictionary was printed. Then, it struck me, if the Bible and other holy books are not to hold sway in the high courts of our land when making laws that effect the human rights issue of our time, then I'm pretty certain a 1964 copy of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary is about as impactful a mosquito bite to a rhino.
Texas continues: If other states follow [in legalizing gay marriage], our history books and our dictionaries will need to be rewritten.
I decided to do a little legwork and went to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary and what did I find? The exact definition Texas cited, with one glaring omission: a second definition, the state of being united to a person of the same sex...
Shame on you, Texas, for cherry picking definitions. It seems our dictionaries have already been rewritten. And you might want to brace yourself, Texas. In regards to rewriting history books, it's my understanding your state is in the process of doing just that.
Then Texas goes on to wring his hands, if this trend continues, America will cease to be America. Can you hear the opening strains of the Star Spangled Banner playing in the background? Can you see the fields of wheat blowing in the wind, superimposed over a waving flag? Because Texas is gearing up for his final volley, it's time to stand up for America, and the values it was founded upon - God, country and family. There it is, the tear-streaked Native American's face, the freshly baked apple pie cooling on the windowsill, the worn quill in Thomas Jefferson's calloused writing hand. Texas threw down a trump card, invoking the sage wisdom of our Founding Fathers. That must be our cue not to look too deeply. We should all just bow our heads in aquiescing silence. Right?
Is anyone else tired of those who hold up "American values" as a pinnacle of cultural excellence, unattainable to others? I'm sure the French, or the Japanese or the Namibian would have something to say about that. I personally cringe when either the left or right spout such platitudes. America is not a sports team that we root for with foam fingers and then once the game is over go our merry way. To quote Dorothy, "This is a real, truly live place. And I remember that some of it wasn't very nice. But most of it was beautiful." America's positive is very much tethered to its negative. Now, I love this country and I appreciate the benefits we are afforded, but to revere anything without looking at its whole is extremely short sighted.
And while on the subject of American values, Texas glaringly omitted a biggie...freedom. Freedom to live. Freedom to pray. Freedom to bare arms. Freedom to love. Freedom to marry. Freedom to raise children. Freedom to wear white after Labor Day. Freedom to let what happens in Vegas stay in Vegas. I'm as American as the next flag waving dweeb and my sexual orientation should never discount my freedoms.
Along the same lines, Ontario claims same sex marriage is unconstitutional. Have you noticed that unconstitutional is the politically incorrect of the day? With disquieting regularity, our political contenders bandy about that word without really knowing what exactly is in our fair Constitution. For clarity... What does The Constitution say about homosexuality? NOTHING. What does it say about marriage? NOTHING. (Ontario might have been confused with the time when George DubYa Bush tried to add the Federal Marriage Amendment to The Constitution, which would have legally defined marriage as a union between a man and woman, without Merriam-Webster's second definition. Had it succeeded, it would be the only amendment denying human rights. Talk about unconstitutional.)
Ontario then says, The Bible clearly and unequivocally condemns homosexual acts. Let me point out right off that I'm not a Biblical scholar of any sort. Also, I don't want to hold up the "separation of church and state" banner like Wonder Woman's deflecting bracelets without articulating any position on religion whatsoever.
Interpreting anything from the Bible and applying absolute truth to today's modern sensibilities is a tricky task. Take the following passage: If a slave owner hits the eye of the slave or handmaid and ruins it, the slave owner must let the slave go free. There's a whole bunch of wrong with that biblical wisdom, the least of which being no mention of restraining orders or health insurance premiums. Our world was so incredibly different back then. For instance, you could blithely say "slave owner" without feeling seven shades of mortification.
There are those who point to Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of how "God hates fags." They tell us He showered fire and brimstone upon the twin cities to rid them of dykes on bikes and fancy nancy boys. If this is your belief, I invite you to reread those passages. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were filled with greed, avarice and nasty people who were just plain mean. There is no mention of Lot and his wife living over the Pleasure Chest.
There are those who say certain biblical passages bespeak of intolerance towards homosexual behavior. After all, in Leviticus it does say, You shall not lie with a male as those who lie with a female; it is an abomination. However, if you read just a teensy bit further, you find out it's also an abomination to eat shellfish, wear garments made from two types of material, trim your beard and sport tattoos. But there doesn't seem to be a plethora of sign carriers and vitriolic Ontarians condemning shrimp eaters or those who wear mixed blends.
I don't find it hard to imagine there were those in Jesus's time that frowned upon same sex couplings, nor that these beliefs ended up in the Bible. But the Bible and other holy tomes are merely blueprints, and our interpretation of these blueprints must adapt to suit our ever-growing, ever-changing society. We no longer keep slaves. Women can be our spiritual leaders. We wouldn't think twice of denying a blind man, or a lame, or he that hath a flat nose entrance to a church. It's time for our views on homosexuality to shift as well.
I'd like to ask two simple questions. What did Jesus say about homosexuality? NOTHING. And by insisting on a gay life style am I breaking one of the ten Commandments? ABSOLUTELY NOT.
Then, without missing a beat, Ontario glissades from religion to science, which makes me snort iced latte through my nose...just a little.
I'm not saying religion and science cannot live side by side, but some Bible quoters wear their Creationist beliefs with pride, and I am amazed how they can disregard irrefutable scientific data when it suits them, and yet shout from the tallest tower when Science supports their argument.
Ontario claims scientists cannot with one hundred percent certainty point to a gay gene. Here's the thing, Ontario. Gay marriage shouldn't have to hinge on whether scientists finds homo DNA. Sure, there is a continuum of gayness. There are some, like my husband who's had that special tingle towards men since he was three. Trust me, if a gay gene exists, Michael has it in spades (no racial slur intended.) But we have to accept that there are those who might not have been "born this way," no offense to Gaga. And like my brother who became Catholic when he married my sister-in-law, I know those who have embraced a homosexual life because they chose to follow their hearts.
In a recent interview for a hoity toity elementary school, my son announced with prescient clarity, "Daddy is a drag queen and Papa is a half queen." I think what he would have then said had we not shhhed him with our eyes would have been, "And it's all okay."
People are gay, Ontario. And not finding the gay gene does not disprove that fabulous and undeniable fact.
And then, in my opinion without thinking, Ontario barrels right into the marriage is for procreation assertion. You don't need me to poke holes into that chestnut. We all know couples who got hitched who weren't going to have children. Besides which, all you have to do is read the juicier tabloids to find out marriage is also for Green Cards, and health insurance, and unplanned pregnancies, and making new Hollywood super couples, and corporate mergers, and hiding gay lifestyles, and paying the big bucks to Charlie Sheen's divorce lawyers. I'd like to add one more to the list; my personal favorite, partnership. Marriage is for good ol' fashioned partnership. But procreation? In this over-populated world, really?
In the USA of today, not the Nazareth of yesteryear, whether born this way or not, homosexuals want the freedom (there's that word again) to live with, love and marry who they choose. And when broken down to those few words it seems silly to withhold rights. Doesn't it?
Hats off to New York.