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Saturday, January 05, 2013

Answers to the National Organization for Marriage's Questions, No. 2

There are several national organizations that are set up to defend "traditional marriage."  One such, the National Organization for Marriage, has a website page titled, "Same-sex Marriage: Answering the Toughest Questions."

Over the next few days, I will respond to their "answers," and invite you to join in.

NOM's Question from the opposition, Number 2. Isn’t the ban on gay marriage like bans on interracial marriage?
NOM's Answer: “Bans on interracial marriage were about keeping two races apart so that one race could oppress the other. Marriage is about bringing two sexes together, so that children get the love of their own mom and a dad, and women don’t get stuck with the enormous disadvantages of parenting alone.” “Having a parent of two different races is just not the same as being deprived of your mother—or your father.”

My response: Another non-answer akin to “bait and switch.”  NOM asks a question about comparing bans on gay and interracial marriage and switches to comparing one parent to two parents.  So let’s first deal with their non-answer and then address the actual question.

It is true that there are disadvantages to parenting alone.  It is also true that two parents, a mom and dad, also have disadvantages, else the divorce rate wouldn’t be so high.  There is no perfect allocation of people for raising children.  But this begs the question.  Is marriage only about raising children?  Of course not.  Bearing children (reproduction) is not essential to a marriage or we wouldn’t let the elderly, the impotent or those who choose to have no children marry.  However, there is no inherent disadvantage for a child to be raised by gay parents.  The American Psychological Association states in their official policy that "research has shown that the adjustment, development, and psychological well-being of children is unrelated to parental sexual orientation and that the children of lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those of heterosexual parents to flourish."

I do want to give NOM credit for realizing that bans on interracial marriage were, indeed, about one race oppressing another.  Majorities (as least those with majority power) tend to do this all over the world, in every society.  I only wish that DOM would acknowledge their own oppression of nonheterosexuals by working so hard to deny them access to marriage.  I don’t know what else to call it.

So, in addition to oppression, the comparison works on other levels.  The “supposed” reason the white majority did not allow racially mixed marriages was due to the presumed inferiority of the African people. In time we learned that there are no differences among the races; that, in fact, the notion of race itself is now being questioned.  People are, indeed, people.  Now we know that this includes LGBTs as well.  We all share a common humanity, with the same needs, desires, range of abilities and all things human.  On what basis can we withhold any human good that is open to any other human being?  The fact that they yearn for marriage is one more indication of their normalcy.

Hysterical and unfounded fear of the black man, especially of his presumed sexual powers, fanned the flames of racism and gave impetus to the need for laws to keep them away from our women and polite society.  Similarly, gay men are caricatured as oversexed, promiscuous, predator pedophiles whom we need to keep from our children and young men.  In fact, they are none of these, at least in no greater proportion than found in straight men (who are most of our pedophiles).

So, the ban against same-sex marriage is a close parallel to bans against interracial marriage.  And for the same good reasons we should eliminate any barriers that keep LGBTs from exercising the right most of us have to marry the person of our choosing.

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