A Lotus Grows in Brooklyn


Fighting the Good Fight—in print
July 7, 2009, 3:57 pm
Filed under: LGBT | Tags: , , , , , ,

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Two stellar articles are out right now on the current state of the same-sex marriage fight. You should really read both of them because they are highly illuminating and clearly reasoned.

First, Hendrik Hertzberg in the New Yorker takes a look back at the popular thinking about homosexuals at the time of the Stonewall riots 40 years ago. Stonewall Plus Forty

“Perversion” was a firing offense throughout the federal government, not just in the military. The American Psychiatric Association classified homosexuality as a “sociopathic” mental disorder. In the Daily News, gays were “homos.” In 1966, three years before Stonewall, Time, then the voice of middlebrow, middle-class respectability, published a long essay on “The Homosexual in America.” The magazine, while acknowledging that “homosexuals are present in every walk of life,” concluded that homosexuality:

 ‘is a pathetic little second-rate substitute for reality, a pitiable flight from life. As such it deserves fairness, compassion, understanding and, when possible, treatment. But it deserves no encouragement, no glamorization, no rationalization, no fake status as minority martyrdom, no sophistry about simple differences in taste—and, above all, no pretense that it is anything but a pernicious sickness.’

090706_r18634_p233Yowza. Yay for 2009! Well, almost. Hertzberg shows how Barack Obama has failed to follow through on his campaign promise of “real equality for all Americans, gay and straight alike,” and calls on the president to “kick that door open.” He says that if he doesn’t, “his gay supporters and their allies should do a little kicking of their own. The community organizer on Pennsylvania Avenue will get the message.” Yes!

 Second, David Cole, writing in the New York Review of Books, provides one of the best point-by-point refutations of the argument against gay marriage that I’ve ever seen. The Same-Sex Future

Some highlights:

 “The first argument, based on preserving tradition, is circular: it seeks to justify the limitation of marriage to unions between a man and a woman on the ground that marriage always has been limited to unions between a man and a woman. As Judge Judith Kaye of the New York Court of Appeals has written, ‘The justification of ‘tradition’ does not explain the classification; it merely repeats it.’”

He even puts forth two of my own favorite twin points:  that it’s a fallacy to say marriage needs to be protected as a religious and procreational institution, when heterosexuals such as atheists and the infertile are allowed full marriage rights!

 “The fact that the tradition of marriage has been shaped by religious doctrine does not strengthen the objection. In fact, religious views on this question, like on so many others, are deeply divided. Some religions hold that marriage must be limited to the union of a man and a woman. But other religions, such as Buddhism, Unitarianism, and Reform Judaism, hold just as deeply that individuals should be free to marry those of their own sex. Under our Constitution, the state has no legitimate interest in endorsing one religious view over the other.”

 “A variant of the tradition argument maintains that the state has a legitimate interest in preserving the institution of marriage. But how exactly would extending the right to marry to same-sex couples undermine marriage? It would certainly change the institution, in the sense of including couples that were traditionally excluded. … If one were truly committed to preserving the institution of marriage, it would make more sense to include same-sex couples who seek to become part of the institution.”

Yes, yes, and yes! These writers make the case so elegantly that I won’t waste space reiterating what they say in my own words. Go read the articles. But I am so happy to see big, well-respected magazines devoting so much space to these viewpoints. I hope the people who can make a difference read them.

Top photo taken at the NYC Pride Parade by me. Illustration by Robert Risko.

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