To love, honor, obey, and procreate…
Just when I was starting to think that getting married might not be inconsistent with my personal beliefs, Australian Prime Minister John Howard had to open his big, fat mouth and ruin it. In the political equivalent of a “Me too!” Usenet posting, he went on the record this week as saying he was against gay marriage and would try to legislate against it. “Marriage, as we understand it in our society,” he said, “is about children, having children, raising them, providing for the survival of the species.” What in the world does one thing have to do with the other? Is he honestly suggesting that the only valid marriages are ones that result in children? My Grandma got remarried in her fifties; should that have been outlawed? What about people who are sterile? What about those of us that just don’t want kids right now? (You better get busy, Brigita, Kristen, and Moire. If I don’t see each of you with a kid in nine months I’m going to report you to the Marriage Police!)

It’s funny because I would’ve been less upset if he had based this on religion. I still wouldn’t agree, but it’s an established viewpoint that a lot of folks share. As much as he’d like to imitate his best buddy George, though, Australians don’t like politicians who make decisions on social policy based on religious convictions. (It’s a refreshing change, let me tell you.) So he tries to couch it in terms of evolution. Hello? Survival of the species?? Last I checked there were about 6 billion of us on this planet, Johnny. I don’t think you need to put homo sapiens on the endangered list just yet. Besides, why should allowing gay people to legalize their unions have any effect on the rate of straight marriage or procreation? Would Bob and Mary Hetero suddenly place less importance on their kids if Chip and Reichen exchanged vows? Not friggin’ likely.

I know I’m in full-on rant mode here, but damn this pisses me off. I think I’ve gone completely anti-marriage again. It’s depressing to think that no matter how you justify it and what your wonderful reasons are, people like Howard will simply view you as one more statistic on “their” side. And no offense to the rest of y’all, but I’d sooner go raise 18 illegitimate crack babies in the woods than give John Howard one tiny bit of satisfaction or any opportunity to lump the two of us in the same demographic.

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  1. i’ve gotten into discussion/arguments on the subject with folks from the other camp, who have used the “unnatural” argument as well, to which i countered that (1) homosexuality exists outside of our species and (b) much in the same way that some kinds of frogs can change their sex in response to population fluxuations, the emergence of homosexuality in a society could be some kind of ecological response to our ever-increasing numbers.

    of course that last one is a relatively crazy hypothesis, but no less crazy than “Baby Jesus cries when married people don’t have kids.”

  2. I’d like to see some examples of where homosexuality exists in animals like it does in homo sapiens. There is homosexual-like behavior. Like in dogs. One male will mount another, or a female will mount another female. A female will even mount a male. But this isn’t a sign of homosexuality like we see it. Instead, this is a behavior of dominance and is used to create a pecking order within the pack. We don’t see co-habitation equivalents, etc.

    I personally agree that the institution of marriage should be confined to heterosexual couples. And for me it does have a religious basis. But it can also be argued in a biological way as well.

    Another thing to think about, is once we take away the heterosexual exclusiveness of marriage, do we now need to allow other forms of marriage in order to stay in line with our “Civil Union” definition of marriage? Should we actively encourage polygamy? Parent-Child marriages? Even Human-Animal marraiges? In all cases we can justify “Well, a relationship does exist, and they do love each other, so why not.”

  3. hmm. try looking up the bonobo monkey. why would god create an animal like that? (or are they just crazy SINNERS?!)

  4. Jason, you have a very good point about homosexual-seeming dominance displays among primates. i’ll concede you that point.

    personally, i am fully aware of the glass house in which i and my eye-plank reside, so i commend all of those who have waited until marriage to have emotionally and bible-fulfilling non-sodomite (ie non-vaginal) hetro intercourse with nothing standing between them and procreation but rhythm and a prayer.

    and i mean that sincerely, knowing at least one couple who were virgins on their wedding night and have successfully used natural family planning for several years before recently conceiving.

    (ok, mostly sincerely)

    should i throw into the mix that it was only recently that religion and society didn’t think that inter-racial marriage was an acceptable norm? no? ok…

  5. I’m so with you on the procreation thing, Kris… that ‘survival of the species’ quote is ludicrous. This is why GW’s recent child tax credit annoys me. I’m all for strong families & family values, but it seems skewed to reward people for having more kids while at the same time China prevents folks from doing the same. I don’t think that people will expand families just because of a tax rebate (lord knows that $400 doesn’t begin to offset the yearly cost of raising a child), but the implication is that couples who can’t or don’t choose to have children aren’t being ‘Good Americans.’

  6. I don’t think the government is implying that having more children means you are a good American because of the tax rebate. If that was the case, then we could infer that all tax breaks imply being a good American. For example, You’re not a good American if:

    you don’t go to college and in turn can’t use education tax breaks
    you don’t buy a house and in turn don’t take advantage of itemizing your loan interest
    you don’t contribute to a retirement plan pre-tax, and thus minimizing your taxable income
    you don’t have investment losses and thus don’t take advantage of writing off those losses
    etc…

  7. The problem for me is that religious folks tend to think that marriage is One Defined Thing, whereas most other people accept that is has different meanings. Do you accept the validity of weddings in Vegas and City Hall? They’re not religious at all. They’re civil ceremonies that create a legal bond between two people. Everybody knows somebody who got married just for the tax break. Some people get married for a green card. If the US already allows all of these secular versions of marriage, what’s the problem with adding one more? Nobody’s going to force the Catholic Church to start hosting gay weddings. I just want my gay friend to have the security of knowing that if his partner gets hit by a bus, he’ll be able to visit him in the hospital. We’re not trying to take anything away from anybody else.

    And since when did marriage become an “institution” anyway? It’s not a defined organization like the Catholic Church. It hasn’t remained unchanged since the dawn of time. What we really mean by institution is “tradition that some folks are obsessed with preserving”. Baseball is an institution. High school prom is an institution. That doesn’t mean they’re sacred to everybody. Why can’t you be free to get married in your way and think it means whatever you think it means, while other people are free to get married their way with their own reasons? Is it just that they’re using “your” word for it? Bring on the civil unions then!

  8. I read that someone mentioned the whole “survival of the species” rubbish. Wonder if anyone has noticed that the rampant procreation in the world today is making it less likely that the planet can sustain any species, well probably mammals anyway. So not breeding to a certain degree is good for the survival of the species.

    Also. Wasn’t marriage created as a contract of ownership over someone else?

  9. I meant to respond yesterday to this post, but had a crazy day, and didn’t have enough time to leave a good answer. So now, I’ll just leave it this: I totally agree with you, Kris. We should all be able to formalize domestic partnerships and be recognized by society and the state as more than “just friends” for financial, social, and legal issues.

    Don’t let the man (or men: John and W.) get you down about marriage, Kris! Let it be what you make (or don’t make) of it!

  10. A contract of ownership for purposes of breeding. To be specific.

    One could (if one were male) in the Bad Old Days, send your broodwoman (er, sorry, wife) unceremoniously back for a refund if she failed to provide you with offspring. Or male offspring. Whatever. Exchange her for a younger, fertile model (because God knows, the problem was never in YOUR manly testes!).

    I’m tired of the arguments. I’m tired of ignorant people dragging out useful bits of hearsay from history and their preferred bits of the bible to defend their nasty little prejudices. While conveniently ignoring all the less useful parts.

    And I certainly don’t think we need to be doing too much more breeding, no.

    Let us just, please, stop being silly about this, let there be a legal way of formalising partnerships of WHATEVER kind. And the religious nutbars and the conservatives can go off in a corner and fight about what sort of partnerships they will choose to recognise, and stop boring the rest of us.

  11. Hear hear! Well said, CompassRose. I think it’s funny that people say, “Well, what’s next? Should polygamists be allowed to get married too?” I think anybody that lives together and wants to codify their arrangement legally (for the protection of all) should be allowed to. Why not? They could just live together anyway and we wouldn’t have any way of making sure people (and their kids) weren’t being exploited. And EXACTLY, everybody else can decide whether they choose to “recognize” them or not, but in the eyes of the law this issue should be cut-and-dried.

    But, yeah, you said it better. 🙂

  12. here’s the argument in comic form. 🙂

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