Thursday, May 14, 2009

Something New, Something Old

(Note: This post is really only meant for 90% of the population. The other 10%, however, are perfectly free to read along if they like.)

Gay marriage is a hot topic again. Not that it has entirely cooled off since 2004 when, according to some, it derailed John Kerry's Presidential hopes. The story goes that people who otherwise might have voted for Kerry didn't because he was in favor of gay marriage. Actually, he was against it. At least, he said he was against it. But the cultural conservatives convinced just enough folks that this was a politically expedient lie. Now, not quite five years later, Carrie Prejean, Miss California, was denied the Miss USA crown because she said she was against gay marriage. At least that's what her cultural conservative defenders claim. They have also pointed out, as a way of boosting their defense of Miss California, that even Barack Obama is against gay marriage (his sincerity, and lack of political expediency, apparently not in doubt.)

Carrie Prejean might be on the wrong side of history, or at least current events. In the last couple of years, six states have legalized same-sex marriages. Of course, that still leaves 44 states against. What's holding those 44 back? James Carville once cited the "ick factor". Possibly, but if ickiness was all there was to it, half the population would be banned from displaying their physiques at our nation's beaches (and I'd be thrown in solitary confinement.) Pat Buchanan thinks it will lead to the breakdown of society. But seeing as marriage, once you get past the rice, cake, and tipsy toasts, is really a legal agreement between two people involving such mundane things as assets, what gays are really trying to do is break INTO society.

Based on what I've heard, and overheard, lot of people feel that if gay marriage is legalized, they'll suddenly be surrounded by...married gay people. While that may seem like an overreaction, consider what happens whenever a state does legalize same-sex marriage. The TV news is immediately filled with images of male couples in tuxedos, and female couples in wedding gowns, and males couples in tuxedos and wedding gowns, and female couples in wedding gowns and tuxedos, bounding up the courthouse steps to the nearest Justice of the Peace. It's no wonder that a Midwestern farm couple watching this on cable might get the impression that heterosexuality is going the way of the daily newspaper.

But if same-sex marriage were legalized, would you, in fact, be surrounded? Would the morning commute to work be made all that more difficult by all the wife-and-wife bikers with JUST MARRIED signs on their hogs? If you were to hit your thumb with a hammer, would there be a longer wait in the emergency ward because of all the men whose disks slipped carrying their husbands over the threshold?

I suspect your exposure to same-sex marriage will all depend on where you live, where you work, and how you spend your free time.

If you live in a neighborhood or town with a lot of openly gay people, or work at a company with a fair share of openly gay people, or you have a lot of openly gay friends, then, yes, you'll run into same-sex married couples every now and then. Maybe every now and then with a lot of immediacies and afterwards in-between.

However, if you live in a neighborhood or town with no openly gay people, or work at a place with no openly gay people, and you don't actually know any openly gay people, then you'll have very few, if any, encounters with same-sex married couples.

So try and keep an open mind.

Especially when others are shut out.

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