I don’t know about you but when I stick my head out into the winds of American political discourse, I not only get a queasy, noxious feeling, as though something once loved has died unloved, I also feel as though everything is moving backward more rapidly than forward. How is it we have come this far in so many ways and yet seem to be regressing to the point where the pursuit of witches will be the next item discussed by various factions of those meant to be tending to the government? Take, for example, the issue of same-sex marriage that still occupies so much political real estate when the greater concerns should be about our dismal financial collapse and human greed that achieved it.
The central reasoning against same-sex marriage is, of course, couched within religion, espousing that marriage is a ‘sacred institution’ between a man and a woman. I’m not at all clear what modern American fundamentalists or conservative politicians mean by ‘sacred institution’ since for the largest part of human history up until the most recent of times, women, by and large, have had very little say in who is to be their husband and were generally treated as chattel. In many parts of the world this situation still exists. What could possibly be sacred about slavery? It’s hardly surprising that most politicians, bishops, ministers, preachers of the gospel, popes, rabbis, mullahs, writers of Christian, Islamic, Hindu, and Buddhist scripture, and dictators were and are men, not to mention the gender of most religion’s primary deity.
What is also never mentioned in these proclamations about the sanctity of marriage is that nearly fifty percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce; this percentage continues to rise. Additionally, an equally large percentage of babies are born out of wedlock. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics showed, in 2007, forty percent of babies born in the US were delivered from unwed mothers.
The current arguments against same sex marriage, the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy, and gay rights in general are driven not so much from religious institutions as they are by political deviousness. Certainly not for the first time in history has this obfuscating shell game been played. While technologies change and cultures shift, the deception is and always has been pretty much the same. The extreme wealthy (individuals, corporations, and policy institutions) pay politicians to pander to the public’s lack of knowledge and stoke the fires of fear. A perfect smokescreen rises, almost always under the guise of religion but devoid of fundamental ethics.
Gay issues are the perfect foil for this irredeemable power-hungry system because same sex desire remains the least understood of human complexity. Even though there is abundant scientific evidence supporting homosexuality as a naturally occurring expression, still many people, especially religious conservatives, believe that gays choose to be gay; therefore they can change. Such are the beliefs and proclamations of the husband of one of the current contenders for the Office of the President of United States and who, in fact, has made a business-reparative therapy-out of converting gays to straights. Presumably it is her conviction as well. It is amazing and terrifying that this kind of voodoo rubbish can prevail anywhere within miles of the least bit of intelligence, let alone at this level of political discourse.
The notion of choice is predicated on the Biblically historical belief that humans are the beneficiaries of ‘free will’ while nonhumans are not, presumably because we became too smart for our own good. There is an abundance of scientific evidence that supports the contrary; over 1500 species participate in various levels of homosexual activity.
It is expedient and more politically effective to convert everything to either black or white and conventional media, with its own repressed filters, adds to the confusion. There is no absolute ‘state’ when it comes to human sexuality and never has been. There is black and there is white. But there exist uncountable grays in between.
If we believe a gay person is homosexual by choice, should we then believe heterosexuals are likewise straight by choice? If this is so, then all heterosexuals are as capable of having same sex desire as all homosexuals have. Can this be? Unlikely. What is more likely is that a percentage of heterosexuals never experience same sex desire. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are homosexuals who have absolutely no desire for the opposite sex. Between the two, there is a remarkable gradation from one to the other. Pan sexuality is an indivisible fabric of grays, blacks, and whites woven from genetic predisposition but immensely pressed upon by cultural weight. Human sexuality is complicated, complex and rich in diversity.
Millions of individuals marry, have children, then decide to ‘come out’, choosing to express their natural state of same-sex desire. ‘Coming out’ is a choice, divorce is a choice, cruelty is a choice, intolerance is a choice, greed is a choice, and bigotry is a choice. Same sex desire is not a choice. It is a state of being. It is neither right nor wrong; it simply is. The less attention we pay to those who claim otherwise, the better off we’ll be. As poet and filmmaker James Broughton once said, “Don’t pollute the Divine with religion; it takes all the fresh air out of Paradise.”