I was driving up I-275 the other day when I saw
something that made the whole same-sex issue seem very
clear. On the back of a YWCA van was written, “More for
girls does not mean less for boys.”
When I was in high school the athletics department
seemed to have unlimited funding. In the fall it was all
about football; in winter, basketball reigned supreme. Of
course, this was boys football and basketball. Girls didn’t
do sports. Sports were for boys!
Sure, the girls had the volleyball team, but nobody
really paid any attention to it.
All of that changed with Title IX, the 1972 Federal law
that bars discrimination in all federally funded educational
activities. Suddenly schools were required to fund girls
athletics equally to boys. More importantly, the new law
forced people to confront those long-held gender stereotypes
that athletics was the domain of boys and that playing
sports was unladylike. It took legal action to force a societal
change, and there was a lot of resistance to that change (but
I don’t recall any mention of “activist judges”).
Now, nearly 35 years later, no one gives much thought
to girls being athletes, and in many cases, the girls’ teams
engender as much excitement and school spirit as the
boys’ teams. Society’s perceptions of gender roles have
changed, and continue to evolve, and we wonder what all
the fuss was about.
More for girls does not mean less for boys.
Same-sex marriage is very similar. The legalization of
same-sex marriage is a virtual inevitability. The rhetoric
surrounding efforts to ban it becomes more and more
ridiculous as one by one, the arguments against it fail to
stand up to rational debate. The recent Washington state
court ruling upholding that state’s ban on same-sex marriage
was no exception. “Under this standard, DOMA is
constitutional because the legislature was entitled to believe
that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples furthers procreation,
essential to survival of the human race, and furthers the
well-being of children by encouraging families where children
are reared in homes headed by the children’s biological
parents. Allowing same-sex couples to marry does not, in the
legislature’s view, further these purposes.”
Neither, it would logically follow, does allowing postmenopausal
women, infertile couples or couples not wanting
children, further those purposes..
In other words, same-sex marriage threatens the very
survival of the human species. As a columnist in the St.
Petersburg Times stated, the courts are fast reaching the
point where all that is left is to grasp at straws in their efforts
to continue to legitimize discrimination.
As in Massachusetts, ultimately it will be the courts that
demand that same-sex marriage be legalized. And until
there is a societal change in the perception of what a
marriage is, there will continue to be resistance.
We ask how same-sex marriage threatens the sanctity of
heterosexual marriage.” In reality it doesn’t challenge
heterosexual marriage. It challenges our perceptions of
what has been the “natural order” of things.
This is new, uncharted territory. It’s different, and
different is uncomfortable until it’s not different anymore.
It will take time for people to change their perceptions
about marriage, just as it took time to change their perceptions
about gender roles and girls’ athletics.
And that change of mindset must include the GLBT
community. How many of us really take same-sex marriage
seriously? How many of us really fathom the level of
commitment that marriage involves?
I have always found weddings to be deeply emotional
experiences. My niece’s wedding this past winter was no
exception, and being the first wedding of that generation of
our family, it was especially so.
I have to wonder, however, if she had married a young
woman instead of a young man, would I have had the same
feelings? Would my eyes have welled up with tears of pride
Regrettably, if I am completely honest I would have to
admit, probably not. And I don’t believe I am alone.
It’s not enough for us to “support” same-sex marriage.
We need to change our perceptions of what a marriage is.
We need to let go of our own comfort zone of what has been
familiar, and give our relationships the value they deserve.
We need to celebrate the same-sex marriages of our gay
and lesbian loved-ones with as much fervor, emotion and
tears of joy as our most beloved straight family members.
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