Before you continue your reading: this isn’t a piece against gay people and normal people should not care less what others do between the sheets, unless they are into kids. But it seems pretty clear that the issue of gay marriage is not an issue of love and respect for human rights: it is about economic benefits and freedom of speech. This may sound like an “astonishing” and perhaps – according to many – unpopular conclusion. But is it, really?
Following the recent decision taken by Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s office, which puts an halt on the official recognition of “just married” gay couples, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin issued a statement according to which Governor Herbert’s decision would be at odds with the most basic humanitarian principles.
The decision, said Mr. Griffin, “harms hundreds of Utah families and denies them the respect and basic protections that they deserve as legally married couples… Governor Herbert has once again planted himself firmly on the side of discrimination by preserving the second-class status he believes gay and lesbian Utahans merit.”
However, matrimony is an institution, not a right. It is an institution according to which the state recognizes a special social status to normal couples, because of their ability to procreate human beings. In other words, it’s a “do ut des” – like ancient romans used to put it: “I give you this, you give me that”. In this equation, the term “this” would be a son, or a daughter, and the term “that” would be… tax benefits and a somehow “privileged” social status.
By procreating, natural families ensure that the very premise upon which our society is based – that is: the natural family – can continue to exist. At this point, educated pro-gays advocates usually argue that even gay couple can have sons and daughters, by adopting, or by various other means. However, that isn’t the same thing as procreating. In fact, the act of procreation is – according to modern day dictionaries – “the sexual activity of conceiving and bearing offspring”.
Seen in this light, the issue of gay marriage becomes a legal issue that has to do more with the concept of “no taxation without representation”, than with the field of civil/human rights. But still, this is not the point.
The point is that gay marriage has nothing to do with civil rights because it isn’t an issue of respect and love. Gay people are already respected by the vast majority of normal-reasoning human beings: even though they can’t get married, in fact, nobody is preventing them from being together and loving each other. Moreover they can love each other even without being married. If you’re against gay marriage, it does not mean you’re against gay people.
For example, if somebody is against the fact that nineteen-year-old boys can receive a pension only because they haven’t paid enough taxes to earn that pension, that does not mean that that person is against nineteen-year-old boys in general.
But it seems to me that in recent years a very vocal minority has successfully distorted the common perception – through television programs, newspapers and movies – and tricked a very un-vocal majority into thinking that the issue of gay marriage has something to do with human rights. In reality, though, that is a false statement as well as a rather un-logical assumption.
According to dictionaries, the word marriage still means “the formal union of a man and a woman, typically recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife.” The word “matrimony” comes from the ancient Latin “matrimonium”, which obviously implies the presence of a “mother”, or the presence of a utero, if you wish. The Holy Bible clearly states that sodomy is an “abomination unto the eyes of the Lord”, but nobody believes in the scripture anymore, right? Nonetheless, the axiom – in a certain sense – is still valid. The word “abomination” has many synonyms, none of which is gentler. For example: atrocity, disgrace, horror, obscenity, outrage, evil, crime, monstrosity, anathema and bane are synonyms with abomination. But in its most profound meaning, the word is appropriate when applied to sexual intercourse among gay people. Gay marriage is “a thing that causes disgust”. However, nowadays politically correctness will prevent you from talking about being disgusted by such things. In other words, if you see two men – or two women – kissing each other in the middle of a busy street at noon, you should not allow yourself to experience the feeling of disgust. Or – if you do feel disgusted – you should not voice your feelings, for fear of being reprimanded by the aforementioned very vocal minority.
The usual argument against this natural feeling of disgust that advocates of gay marriage utilize has apparently to do with evolution, in the sense that – in their opinion – there seem to be a positive relation between the celebration and the appreciation of gay culture and intelligence. To put it simply: if you don’t advocate for gay marriage, then you MUST be a bigot, a retrograde or – at the very least – a caveman that blows on fire. One should disagree on this. Even if you never visited a cave, you can still think that allowing tax benefits for gay couples is not a good idea. And that does not mean that you are against gay people in general. And that does not mean that you haven’t read Aristotle (or Plato, or Nietzsche, or Machiavelli or Dante, or Berlinsky) and that you don’t know how to use a computer, or that you have lost your capacity to read and discern.
To paraphrase Bob Hope’s overly-exploited line, “I’ve just flown in from California, where they’ve made homosexuality legal. I thought I’d get out before they make it compulsory,” one could say something like: “allow me to disagree on the issue of gay marriage, before agreeing on it becomes compulsory”.
You might agree or not with what Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson said about the institution of marriage, but you can still firmly believe that people like him are nonetheless perfectly entitled to voice their concern about the issue, as long as they do not offend anybody. Otherwise, one could very well say that gay people cannot tell normal couples that they are not – in fact – “normal” from their point of view, but instead they are bigots.
Evelyn Beatrice Hall’s famous quote, (erroneously attributed to Voltaire) “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” renders the idea: gay marriage is not an issue of love or respect anymore, but rather it has become an issue of freedom of speech. And normal reasoning people should be entitled to be against gay marriage, even though gay people do not disgust them.
You see? Bigots and cavemen that argue against gay marriage, as strange as it may sound to you, do have many arguments to put on the table. To quote but a few: they have psychological arguments, sociological arguments, legal arguments and – finally – even moral and biblical arguments. By the way, if you despise the Bible, then they are logically entitled to despise the Quran or the Bhagavad Gita. But the only argument that the advocates of gay marriage can put on their table is that arguments against gay marriage are old-fashioned. And apart from the fact that old fashioned does not mean stupid, otherwise – by the same token – Aristotle is a stupid and Einstein is a stupid, that does not seem a good argument. If you shout it out loud enough, your argument does not become any more powerful, but just more noisy. To say that gay people have a right to marry, just because hinting at the opposite is bigotry, should not render your argument more insightful, at least in theory and at least by following logical reasoning. Nazi supporters were shouting out pretty loud, back in the days of the Third Reich. They thought they were right, but where they, really? And no: this is not arguing that Nazi could be compared to gay people, or to the advocates of gay marriage, this is just following logic. And logic is reasoning conducted or assessed according to strict principles of validity. The valid principle here is that normal – that is to say: heterosexual couples – can procreate while homosexual couples cannot. Does that mean that homosexual couples are – in a way – sub-normal? No, but it does mean that they are abnormal, ergo: they are deviating from what is normal or usual, typically in a way that is undesirable or worrying. And gay marriage is undesirable only because it grants privileges and tax benefits that are a prerogative of heterosexual couples merely because heterosexual couples can procreate and homosexual couples cannot. Therefore they should not be entitled to the same benefits as much as a nineteen-year-old boy isn’t entitled to a pension. The usual educated advocates of gay marriage at this point will argue that, by the same token, sterile couple – or couples that do not wish to procreate – should also be prevented from getting married. The obvious answer to this very weak argument is that, in any given society, rules are made according to a majority of people and sterile couples are a minority, therefore they don’t count.
But in modern politically-correct terms arguing against gay marriage has undeniably become a no-go area in certain political environments, and that is why one can come to this rather unpopular conclusion according to which one should be, instead, entitled to argue against gay marriage: precisely because someone is shouting out loud that you shouldn’t be entitled to do this. The contrary statement is obviously also true: one can – and should – argue in favor of gay marriage, if he or she feels the need to do so. But if in your opinion one should support gay marriage only because whosoever doesn’t is a bigot, than you must be aware of the fact that that isn’t arguing, that is insulting. You find me offensive? I find you offensive for finding me offensive.
Originally published on L’Occidentale.it