Gay Marriage and the War on Terror

I know it's not popular with a majority of the public or with the Presidential candidates, but I support gay marriage.

With the exception of Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel, both of who have as much chance of being President as the late Leo Durocher, even the supposedly "progressive" leading Democrats at last week's Gay and Lesbian Forum dared not back same-sex marriage, fumbling with their answers and looking away from the camera. Who knows what they really think? (Dodd and Biden didn't even deign to show up.)

On the Republican side, no one is going anywhere near gay marriage, although, ironically, the decidedly urban Rudy Giuliani seems more genuinely comfortable with gay people than any Presidential candidate of recent memory. Nevertheless, he now opposes same-sex marriage and cloaks his deeper feelings, whatever they may be, behind legal analysis and states rights. In short, he's a politician running for office.

But I don't have to do that. I support gay marriage and the War on Terror and I believe my views on both to be linked in a matter that is not tenuous. But I'll get to that - first allow me to discuss marriage. I am not going to deal here with current legislation like DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act), nor with the "let's leave it to the states" doctrine, which seems more like the premise for a sitcom given the millions of people commuting daily between places like New York and New Jersey. Nor will I get into my views on how gay marriage should be achieved - legislative versus judicial. Although I recognize valid arguments on both sides, I don't feel qualified. I am going to express my gut on the matter.

For me gay marriage is a human rights issue. It is a natural development of the civil rights movement of the fifties and sixties, part of extending to gay people what was extended to African-Americans at that time. Simple equality. To hold those beliefs, of course, you must believe that homosexuality is not an evil, but another part of nature. I see homosexuality that way for two reasons. One - personal: I have lived most of my life in New York and Los Angeles and known and worked with countless homosexuals, a number of them now with children. I found these people to be good and bad human beings, good and bad parents, to the same degree heterosexuals are - no difference. In other words, they are normal people. Two - scientific: It is becoming increasingly clear that sexual preference, although in part environmentally influenced, is largely fixed at birth chemically (fetal baths, etc.). It is also clear that it is virtually immutable. Attempts to change sexual preference have been utter failures. Meanwhile, homosexuality appears in animals with some frequency. It seems safe to conclude it is, in essence, part of nature.

Now I realize that many still deem it a sin from their core religious beliefs. Those people should be - indeed are - free to hold those beliefs within the contexts of their religions. Many others, however, do not hold those beliefs and it is unfair - a violation of the separation of church and state, if you will - to enact laws based on the reputed sinfulness of homosexuality. Precluding gays from marrying is at least in part that. We are denying them the rights we all have simply because they are homosexual - an act of discrimination. (Yes, I realize domestic partnership legislation is almost a done deal, but the word marriage still carries with it strong symbolic significance of social acceptance.)

And, yes, too I know a significant group still regards gay marriage as a threat to marriage itself. If that is so, then marriage is in worse shape than is popularly believed. Actually, it seems to me the reverse is more likely true. Gay marriage should strengthen marriage because it will bring homosexuals more closely into the fold of the family and into the fabric of everyday life. If we are religious or spiritual people of any sort, we should have empathy and sympathy for the desire of two individuals - gay or straight - to commit to each other for life. We should see it as a good, not as some dangerous plot to undermine our social structure or as the harbinger of polygamy (when it is again more likely the reverse).

All that said, I doubt I will be voting in 2008 because of the candidate's stand on same-sex marriage and not just because (see above) it is difficult to determine what those candidates really think on the issue. Those of us concerned about human rights, about the separation of church and state, about gay rights and women's rights, about democracy itself, have bigger fish to fry - the War on Terror. And here is the connection in my belief system.

Because I am such an adamant adherent of gay rights, women's rights, human rights - the values that evolved out of the Enlightenment - I have to vote for the candidate I think will best carry forth that war (by whatever means appropriate at the moment) to defend those Enlightenment values. This means, unless I am very lucky, that I will not always love that person in all areas. Indeed, I may have to swallow some very bitter pills, but these are serious times, by far the most serious of my lifetime. And I was born at the end of World War II.

I never cease to be amazed - and perhaps it is my own myopia - that my former colleagues on the Left can be blind to this situation. They act as if the threat is not real and is only a blip caused by a post 9/11 overreaction by George Bush, thus ignoring virtually all of Western history since the year 800, not to mention the overwhelming demographic changes of recent decades. (John Edwards - interestingly an opponent of gay marriage - recently called the "War on Terror" a bumper sticker. At least, he's consistent.) The very people most threatened by the ideology of Islamism and the institution of Sharia law - gays, women, freethinkers - are often the very people least likely to defend themselves against it. What we have on our Left is a culture of denial equal to, if not exceeding, the German Jews of the 1930s and one that has taken the canard about all politics being local to an almost ludicrous extreme.

So, yes, I am a supporter of gay marriage and undoubtedly will remain so, since it is consistent with my values of long duration. And, yes, I will continue to agitate for it in my writing and elsewhere. But in return I call on my friends on the Left - straight or gay - to help defend that real source of liberalism the Enlightenment, because if we lose and fall under religious law, there not only will be no gay marriage, there will be no women's rights, no freedom of the press, no basic human rights, not even - as in the case of Iran - any music.