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"Pardon me if I don't throw rice - Commentary by Joseph C. Phillips"
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This past Monday at 5:01 p.m., homosexual marriage became legal in California. Pardon me if I don’t throw rice.
Last month, the California Supreme Court rode rough shod over the will of California voters, the California legislature, which failed in its attempt to legalize homosexual marriage, the clear will of the rest of the country (45 states have outlawed gay marriage), as well as cultural and moral traditions dating back to the beginning of time. Of course, this remarkable display of arrogance did nothing to dampen the spirits of the dozens of gay couples that lined up to receive marriage licenses and the dozens more that traveled to California from out of state in order to be married.
For these couples and those that will follow them, the decision of the California Supreme Court was a triumph for love. Of course, love was never the issue. There is not one argument offered by those of us that oppose homosexual marriage that puts the capacity of homosexuals to love or to be loved at issue. Indeed, to suggest that two human beings are incapable of caring for one another deeply and passionately because they are of the same sex is as repugnant and backward as the idea that to oppose gay marriage is to be a bigot or a homophobe. Nevertheless homosexual marriage advocates succeeded in making the discussion about human worth, when that was never in doubt. What was and continues to be in doubt is the state of marriage when it has been reduced to a purely romantic endeavor and/or a way to gain benefits from government.
The purpose of marriage is not the demonstration of love and faithfulness; it is not about coupling. Yes, those are important elements of a successful marriage, but the purpose of marriage is the bonding together of a man and a woman for the purposes of bearing and raising children to be active and contributing members of society. The state encourages marriage through the granting of benefits because societies have rightly judged that traditional child centered marriage is best for children, best for the state, and ultimately best for the culture. No traditional marriage is not and has never been perfection realized. It is instead the grander idea to which all societies have striven since time immemorial, which is to say until a couple California judges decided they knew better.
The fact is that very few Americans are really concerned with who is living with whom and what they do in the privacy of their bedrooms. Honestly, we cringe when thinking about our parents dalliances; we are not spending time conjuring up visions of our neighbors. What people are concerned with is what behavior government sanctions in their name.
The opposition to homosexual marriage is not an opposition to the idea of the universality of love, but a rejection of the idea that the state, and by extension, society must validate every loving relationship as equal.
If marriage is simply about coupling – sex and love and nothing more – then upon what basis would California or any other state deny “marriage equality” to those that favor polygamous relationships? Understand that I am not of the opinion that homosexual marriage will lead us down the slippery slope to bestiality or child abuse. However, I do think it a fair question to ask those demanding “marriage equality” what their rationale is for refusing state sanction of those life-styles even they disagree with. Why do the same romantic arguments not apply to those wishing to marry multiple partners? Does anyone seriously contend that human beings are incapable of loving more than one person at a time? We have already decided that the actual make-up of the family unit is unimportant so why not have three parents? Certainly children will benefit from three times as much love and attention. Or do we reject such arguments because we recognize that ultimately the institution of marriage must be about more than love and more than equal access to government benefits. And then, can’t we finally agree that society has a right even a duty to recognize the differences in certain of our human relationships and refuse validation of those it finds counter to its grander ideals?
Joseph C. Phillips is the author of “He Talk Like A White Boy” available wherever books are sold.