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Ruling on gay marriage a reminder of the discrimination toward all.

by Martha Clayton Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2003 at 3:01 AM

A response to the Massachusetts SJC ruling on gay marriage.

The recent decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is not just a gay rights issue. The issue affects all non-white and female citizens in the United States as well. The language that is being chosen by people who oppose gay marriage makes it clear that the oppression they seek to impose goes much deeper, targeting everyone who is not part of the white, male, heterosexual population.

I have always had sincere difficulty with the phrase “institution of marriage”. When I think of an institution, of any kind, I tend to think of a large foreboding building from which you can not easily leave, which I guess is one way to look at marriage.

But real, true marriage should not be a prison. It is an obligation entered into willingly, by choice. You are making the ultimate commitment to each other, a public announcement that you and another have reached an agreement to forever watch over each other, to take care of each other and love one another.

Certainly, there is a legal definition of marriage as well. You are legally bound to one another; you are traditionally restricted from ‘romancing’ people other than your spouse and you are often expected to have children and grow old together. It was precisely this “legal” definition of marriage that the Massachusetts SJC was trying to separate from any religious or moral definitions. Nowhere in the legal definition does it say that marriage is only for a heterosexual couple. That implication can only be arrived at by stretching the interpretation of having children to exclude all non-sexual means—in short, by excluding adoption as well.

Governor Romney of Massachusetts says, “I agree with 3,000 years of recorded history.” (AP Wire) However, the vast majority of those 3000 years defined marriage as a man’s ownership of a woman, that a woman was her husbands’ property. Is this another aspect of history that he approves of? Would Mr. Romney like to profess the legal ownership of his wife? I seriously doubt it, because many things have changed during 3000 years of history including the definition of marriage.

What else from history does he agree with? Does he agree with the thousands of years of history that condoned slavery or the years in the United States when women, minorities and anyone who wasn’t a White, Christian, land owner couldn’t vote or own a business? Or maybe he is referring to the years when it was illegal for Caucasians and non- Caucasians to marry.

Mr. Romney is in fact a ‘buffet’ historian and moralist; picking and choosing the parts of history and moral culture that support his argument at the moment because he doesn’t actually have a good answer as to why gay marriage should be illegal, and neither does anyone else.

We hear over and over again from people who oppose gay marriage that allowing gays to marry will compromise the institution of marriage. What does this mean? In what way can making a union between two people legal and binding compromise anything?

Isn’t this in fact a bolstering of the institution of marriage? Shouldn’t our society be thankful that people are finding someone to love and be with indefinitely? I mean really think about it. We have a divorce rate that is out of control, shouldn’t we be happy that people want to get married at all anymore.

We used to hear that being gay was bad because gays are supposedly promiscuous, now we hear that they are destroying the institution of marriage because they want to make legal declarations of their monogamous relationships.

And what about divorce? Why are those who claim to be so worried about the integrity of the institution of marriage so hung up on what gays are doing and not working to outlaw divorce. Isn’t the ability to divorce the real foe of the institution of marriage? Jesus was opposed to divorce. He declared that ancient Mosaic Law only allowed divorce because of humanity’s “hardness of heart”. But today there is no attempt to outlaw divorce because that would be a violation of a person’s basic right to choose. To choose who they want to be with and if they want to be married at all.

What we are really being told by people who oppose gay marriage is that this right to choose is only extended to heterosexuals. And according to Governor Romney’s practice of following the tenants of 3000 years of history, we should only extend this right to heterosexual men because once a man owns his wife she is his property and property has no rights.

The pronouncements by people who oppose the recent Massachusetts SJC ruling does more than expose the continued discrimination against gays in this country. It shows indeed a “hardness of heart”-- the continued discriminatory opinions and practices of those who are supposed to work for the people in this country, a fundamental flaw that will be our undoing.

Martha Clayton

Married Heterosexual

Los Angeles, California

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