The LGBT "Threat" to Straight Marriage
is stirring, a sea-change is abroad in the land. It is a very exciting
time to be an LGBT
activist, and also a frightening time. Recently, the U.S. Supreme
Court struck down the sodomy laws in
the 13 remaining states that had them and overturned
the infamous Hardwick decision. This has already been
called our Brown vs. the Board of Education landmark
In the blessed and favored land to our north, the
Province of Ontario started the ball rolling, or at
least the gay wedding bells ringing, with other
provinces following suit and the entire Canadian
government expected to legalize same-sex marriage.
At the grassroots, people of imminent good sense are
more and more speaking up for the LGBT minority in
their midst, even to the point of electing openly Gay
bishops in the Episcopal Church in New Hampshire, and
in the Church of England. Unfortunately the Archbishop
of Canterbury has intervened successfully in Britain,
hopefully less so in the U.S., on the side of church
unity as opposed to justice. But the sea change is
still out there.
the Religious Reich is foaming at the mouth at our advances. Here I
focus on one such bit of
blather. A commentary by Mark O'Keefe, Newhouse News
Service, appeared in the Ft. Worth (TX) Star-Telegram,
on July 19, 2003. In it, Mr. O'Keefe writes, "Some
[conservatives] see opportunity in a new battle arising
from the June [Supreme Court] ruling: gay marriage.
Handled correctly, strategists say, it could re-energize
religious conservatives, putting them in a posture of
defending heterosexual marriage instead of attacking
the rights of gays."
"Defending heterosexual marriage!" Wow, the power they
think we have. OK, I am a single Gay man, and have been
single since my "tragic divorce" ended a 10 year
relationship in 1992. I would love to take advantage
of my newfound sexual legality (thank you, Supremes!)
and even dash off to Canada to get legally hitched.
All I am lacking is a man with which to do these things!
But you know what? Destroying heterosexual marriage is
not on my agenda! I don't know of ANY LGBT activist for
whom this is the goal. To be honest, straight people
have been doing a pretty fair job at destroying the
institution of heterosexual marriage, with divorce rates
well over 50%, abuse rampant, and dysfunction seemingly
the norm. They certainly don't need us!
Mr. O'Keefe goes on to report
that "Senate Majority
Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., has endorsed the effort [to
defend heterosexual marriage from us gay people], saying
'Western values' and the 'sacrament' of marriage must be
OK, first of all, marriage isn't a sacrament in most
churches and unless Sen. Frist is a Roman Catholic, he
is seriously misinformed about his church (in fact Sen.
Frist is a Presbyterian and clearly VERY misinformed
about what a sacrament is).
Second, what "Western values" are
we talking about? With the institution of marriage in such disarray,
could the good Doctor/Senator from Tennessee seriously
be suggesting that allowing same-sex couples to marry
could possibly further damage an already dicey
Third, why does Sen. Frist and other right-wingers think
LGBT people have such power?
And I guess, fourth, why does the Senator feel that
straight institutions are so fragile that they are
easily overcome by proud, honest, open LGBT people?
Since when do
we have the power to destroy straight institutions?
Since when is heterosexuality so flawed that
homosexuality poses an irresistible appeal to the
unwary? I have wondered about that with the perpetual
huzzerai over role modeling. It seems that straight
homophobes think, "We can't let Gay people teach, or
be Scout leaders, or be pastors and priests or
especially, God forbid, bishops, because seeing out,
proud, and successful Gay people would so inspire our
youth to abandon their natural heterosexuality that
everyone would become Gay!" So fragile is the allure
of heterosexuality! Oh come on!
Maybe they are right! My
friend Lawrence Reh comments on his excellent list-serve, "Our community
could, some day, become as blasé about matrimony as
some heterosexuals, but for the present, I suspect
that committed same-gender couples are better marriage
role models than many heterosexual unions which have
resulted from peer pressure, parental expectations,
unwanted pregnancy, or the perceived advantages in
climbing career or social ladders."
I think it is all very silly. Some religious
conservatives seem hell-bent on policing the
activities of others in the morbid fear that some
one, somewhere is having a good time. Are WE having
fun yet? The reality is that giving me rights does
not mean that you have fewer rights. It simply means
that we BOTH have rights. My being able to marry
takes nothing away from my brother and his wife. It
just makes my relationship more just and fair. My
being opening Gay does not take anything away from
my openly heterosexual friends. Nor would I want
But that sea change IS happening, same-sex relationships
are becoming more equal with heterosexual ones. To
prove it, the Bravo network came out with a new reality
marriage television show this week called Boy Meets Boy,
in which an eligible (and rather charming) Gay man gets
to choose between 15 other men to date. The only catch
is that unbeknownst to the Gay hero, three of his
prospective suitors are really heterosexual men and
only in it in the hopes of catching his eye and winning
the money. So at least on Bravo, gay relationships are
being brought equal to straight ones, characterized by
sensationalism, lies, deceit, and greed. I feel so
Of course, the Religious Reich hasn't been heard
screaming about what these reality marriage shows are
doing to the institution, oh excuse me Sen. Frist, the
sacrament of heterosexual marriage. Maybe because that
is what heterosexual marriage is really all about?
Nah, my parents were straight and their marriage was
rock solid and wonderful. Maybe they took their lead
from Gay couples they knew, not hypocritical religious
bigots like Sen. Frist or the current crop of reality
marriage travesties on television.
If Sen. Frist and his cohorts in the Robertson-Falwell-Phelps American Taliban
really want to end the threat to heterosexual marriage, they should turn
away from Gay and Lesbian couples. Maybe we are more
the solution, than the problem!
The fact is that well-reasoned law, not the
pronouncements of bigoted church leaders, will
prevail. It is important to remember it was as
recently as June 12, 1967, when the U.S. Supreme
Court (in Loving v. Virginia) declared the
miscegenation laws in Virginia and 15 other
states unconstitutional. Before 1967 interracial
marriages were illegal in those 16 states. Bigoted
church leaders and even a majority of public opinion
disagreed with the Supreme Court then, too. And
somehow the institution of heterosexual marriage
is the director of Chi Rho Press,
a gay and lesbian Christian publishing house. He has served the Universal
Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches for more than 25 years. He
has written a number of booklets, including Writing
to Congress and The
Least of These: A Christian Social Action Bible Study on Matthew 25,
which are currently distributed by Chi Rho Press. He can be reached at Adam@ChiRhoPress.com.
Copyright © 2003 by the author
All Rights Reserved
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