The mostly moribund Independent Record has seen a little life the past few weeks after a front page story about a two young women from Montana who recently married in California. Following a few weeks of letters to the editor, today the IR printed a column by former legislator Tom Rasmussen, who argues that we must not tolerate gay marriage, lest our nation, its values, and every recipe for apple pie ever written vanish into the dustbin of history.
It’s a pile of horse shit, and I’m tired of it.
Rasmussen trots what has become the argument du jour of homophobic bigots: that no society has ever endured, after endorsing gay marriage. While that historical analysis probably plays pretty well with people who think the Earth is only 6,000 years old, it’s an insultingly stupid argument to make to anyone else. No society has ever endured that offered true equality for all people, regardless of race or gender, either, and that’s hardly an argument to stop striving for those goals. History, especially American history, has been a slow march towards true equality, and to oppose gay marriage on historical grounds is absurd.
In fact, history might show the opposite of Rasmussen’s claims. The Roman Empire made same-sex marriage illegal in 342, and barely lasted another hundred years. By Rasmussen’s logic, the United States better repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, stat.
As for defending marriage, another of Rasmussen’s concerns, I just don’t get it: why in the hell are conservative Christians so afraid that homosexuality will spread like wildfire through the nation? Freud might have an answer to explain their irrational fears, but I have never been able to understand. When Rasmussen writes that “sexual confusion that would be created among young people is not fully measurable and is scary even to consider,” it makes me wonder if Tom watched a few too many scary movies in high school.
Rasmussen also introduces this compelling argument: because marriage is about producing children and gay couples can’t produce children, they can’t be married. Syllogism much? Many married couples choose not to have children; many cannot have children. I assume then, that when Rasmussen writes, “relationships between two men or two women are by their very nature sterile and, thus, not marriage,” that his heart is full of Christian compassion for sterile heterosexual couples, ones he would presumably deny marriage licenses to.
Finally, though, Rasmussen really pisses me off. Though I am far from a Biblical scholar, I don’t remember the tone of the New Testament being one of smug condescension, the tone that Rasmussen employs when he compares homosexuality to adultery and drunkenness. He suggests that gay men and women can be cured through Jesus, conveniently ignoring the fact that the American Psychiatric Association has demonstrated that there is no scientific evidence that sexual orientation can be changed.
Rasmussen closes his piece with this head-scratcher:
Certainly people who believe they are homosexual need love, support and understanding. They should not be discriminated against or have to experience bigoted behavior against them. They have every right in our culture to continue in their behavior if they choose to.
We must not, however, let a false sense of “fairness”, “tolerance”, or “non-discrimination” undercut a foundational part of the fabric of our culture. The price to society and succeeding generations would be too great.
I think I understand what this means. We shouldn’t discriminate against these sinners, who should be treated equally, other than discriminating against them in innumerable ways.
As far as I can tell, the foundational part of our culture threatened by gay marriage is bigotry, one of those foundational values that it’s time we work harder to eliminate. The only price of gay marriage is the discomfort felt by people like Tom Rasmussen, whose discomfort is no different than the people who opposed inter-racial marriage in the 1960s. No straight person will convert, no cultural traditions will be lost, and no church will have to perform ceremonies it opposes. What will happen is that people who love each other will be able to commit to one another legally, an arrangement that can only benefit individuals, communities, and the nation as a whole.