Thursday, October 2, 2008

More Prop 8 Hate

It's good to know where some people really stand when it comes to lesbians and gay men. Even though some leaders of the Proposition 8 movement claim that the movement "isn't a referendum on gay people" and that Proposition 8 supporters do not hate gay people, we all know that those claims whitewash reality.

Some advocates of Prop 8 really are just mean-spirited out of dislike, or hatred, of gay people.

Writing for rightwing news source, for instance, the writer who calls himself "Playful Walrus" wrote an article updating his readers on "The California Prop 8 Marriage Neutering Update."

Wait, haven't we heard that odd, scary phrase "marriage neutering" before? Ah yes, it's an odd, lingo-y, and scare-tactic phrase that never fails to bring a smile to my face.

But I digress. In his Pro-Proposition 8 piece, this Playful Walrus character writes of a gay man who opposes Proposition 8:

"James Overturf, an employee of the behemoth Los Angeles Unified School District, lives in Glendora with a guy he apparently got a 'marriage' license with, and 'their' two children."

First off, note how Mr. Walrus describes Mr. Overturf's legal spouse. Walrus says that Mr. Overturf "lives... with a guy he apparently got a 'marriage' license with..." as though Mr. Overturf sort of just willy-nilly picked some guy off the street to go get a marriage license with. To Walrus, Mr Overturf's spouse isn't his partner in life, marriage, and parenthood, he's just some "guy."

Then, of course, there's those trusty old scare quotes encapsulating the "marriage" of Mr. Overturf and his spouse. Those indicate scorn, sarcasm, and disagreement with word usage. It indicates that Mr. Walrus doesn't view Mr. Overturf's marriage as a legitimate one even though the marriage is, actually, legal and therefore legitimate. But worse than that, which I could maybe agree to disagree about, let's also notice the scare quotes surrounding the phrase: "'their' two children." Those scare quotes indicate that the children Mr. Overturf and his partner are raising are not really their children.

Many anti-gays are fixated on the fact that same-sex couples cannot produce children together. Because that is the only distinguishing factor between many same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples, they invariably use it as reason to deny same-sex couples equal rights. Yet Mr. Walrus makes a serious error in his prolific use of quotation marks. Logically, he is denigrating all parents, straight or gay, who raise non-biological children. Logically, he is saying that biology trumps everything: That no matter who is committed to raising a child, the people whose gametes joined together to biologically make that child will always be that child's real parents and don't anyone forget it!

Yet, within our complex human societies, parents can be those who biologically create children and/or those who nurture and raise the children. So, people can disagree as to whether or not gay people should be allowed to marry, but to question the parenthood of same-sex couples is just rude, unnecessary, and factually incorrect.

See, a good rule of thumb is to treat other people how you would like them to treat you in return. How would Mr. Walrus feel if someone referred to his wife as "some lady he has a marriage license with," his marriage as a "marriage" as though his marriage were not real, and his children as "his" children as if his children weren't really his? He probably wouldn't like it. In fact, he would probably feel offended, angry, and protective.

I'm all for debating same-sex marriage. But in the process, I wish Proposition 8 supporters could do so without simultaneously denigrating our families. Yet, oftentimes, questioning the legitimacy of our families isn't even the most rude behavior of marriage defenders. For instance, after stating that man-woman couplings contribute to society by producing children, in bold-faced type Mr. Walrus makes this claim:

"...same-sex couplings have not produced anything for society, except for the spread of disease."

Frighteningly, it is logical to assume that if one truly believes that same-sex couplings have no societal value, then one might also believe that same-sex couplings should not exist. In any event, are relationships really only valuable to society insofar as they are capable of reproduction? Such a worldview seems to strip away what it is that distinguishes humans from animals. While Mr. Walrus seems to think that humans are teetering on the edge of underpopulation, the reality is that we live in modern civil societies that are sort of beyond the wilderness mentality of "spread our seed or die."

Frankly, I can't believe that this man has put us in the position of actually having to defend our right to exist in society as same-sex couples. I can't believe that someone's lens through which he sees the world filters out all the good things about same-sex couples, and only lets him believe that gay couples do nothing positive and only "spread disease." Same-sex couples may not be able to produce children together, but we often adopt and raise children when other people are unwilling or unable to do so. Mr. Walrus may not like that we raise children, but the fact is, we do. And that is a valuable contribution to society.

Now, if couples are only valuable insofar as they are able to procreate, I suppose heterosexual couples who are unable or unwilling to breed are just as value-less to society as gay couples are. I wonder why Mr. Walrus doesn't explicitly offend them the way that he has offended same-sex couples. Maybe that's because, in his eyes, the dignity of heterosexuals matter, unlike the dignity of gay people.

After reading the article, I noticed that there is a little button that lets readers "Flag as Offensive" certain articles. I didn't press it. Even though there is evidence of hatred in this article and much that offends me, I have a hunch that the editors over at won't see it that way. Even though this mean-spirited article rudely offends many of us, we already know that our feelings don't matter to this crowd. When things are offensive to us delicate gays, we are just being overly sensitive and silly. When things offend the sensibilities of the "family values" crowd, they get to write discrimination into the Constitution.

Now, I'm not a Christian but as I've said before I do try to live simply by the Golden Rule. I don't always succeed, of course. I sometimes let anger get the best of me, particularly when people are spiritually and physically violent towards our community. But I keep trying and part of that means knowing that living by the Golden Rule means acting out of love, rather than hatred. In reference to certain "Christian" and "family values" advocates, I think gay rights advocates nail this concept when citing New Testament text in an anti-Prop 8 advertisement:

1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

It's unfortunate that so many anti-gays are nothing more than noisy gongs.

No comments: