Thoughts On H8

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Harrison Leonard
Contributing columnist

I do not support same-sex marriage. This may come as quite a shock to CSUN students, many of who are likely unaware that a real live traditionalist walks among them. I am concerned that the bulk of the arguments you have heard in opposition to same-sex marriage are made in the context of religious conviction. I understand why irreligious people may be unconvinced by theological reasoning. Here, then, are seven non-religious, apolitical thoughts about same-sex marriage. I raise these points not to win an argument or achieve agreement, only to clarify where we differ.

1. Let’s agree to be semantically correct. It is same-sex marriage, not “gay marriage.” Gays can marry – they just can’t marry each other. This debate revolves not around who can be married, but who can be married to whom.

2. It is a disservice to black Americans to compare the Gay Rights movement to the Civil Rights movement. Many prominent leaders in the black community have expressed dismay at comparisons between their struggles of the 1950s and 60s and gay rights issues today. There have never been separate drinking fountains for homosexuals. There have never been segregated bathrooms or restaurants for homosexuals. Homosexuals have never been denied the right to vote on account of their orientation. Homosexuals have always enjoyed the freedom to be with whom they choose. And homosexuals receive equal treatment under the law in the form of domestic partnerships and civil unions.

3. This issue all comes down to one word, doesn’t it? One would think that if this were truly only about the desire to be treated equally under the law, the gay community would be willing to compromise over the word “marriage.” It seems like a fine compromise: the gay community gets the legal status they desire, and social conservatives/religious people preserve the title they cherish. But it’s clearly not about that. The gay community wants to change the definition of the word “marriage” because it would signal that society at large approves of their lifestyle choices.

4. I have heard supporters of same-sex marriage call those opposed to it “radicals” who are trying to “impose their values” on others. Let’s say for the sake of argument that history proves you, the same-sex marriage proponent, absolutely correct about same-sex marriage (and history proves me to be wrong). Nevertheless, I ask you, who is more “radical”: the person who wishes to preserve the definition of marriage as it has always been, or the person who wishes to change that definition for the first time in all of human history? Really, who is “imposing their values” on whom?

5. We Americans too often confuse compassion with standards. Compassion and equity are wonderful in our personal lives, but a successful society requires standards.

6. Supporters of same-sex marriage have framed the same-sex marriage debate around the idea that if two people love each other, they ought to be able to marry. In other words, love should be the only qualification for marriage. If you frame the marriage debate in this way, it will become an unfair form of discrimination for you to tell anyone else that they cannot marry the person, persons, animals, or other objects of their choosing.
After all, who are you to question the sincerity of someone’s love for someone(s) or something else? Why couldn’t any three individuals marry? Why couldn’t a man marry a little boy? How about a woman and a little girl? A man and his dog? If you think I’m being extreme or engaging in “slippery-slope” politics, I want you to Google the following: Lee Jin-gyu; Selva Kumar; and/or NAMBLA.

7. I hope it is abundantly clear that I don’t hate gay people. I am not bigoted and I do not dislike homosexuals. I may not approve of the homosexual lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean that I am incapable of treating gays with the utmost respect and human decency. My thoughts reflect an affirmation of traditional marriage, not an attack on homosexuals. If you, the supporter of same-sex marriage, denigrate those you disagree with as “bigots” and “filled with hate,” you will not get anywhere and you will be doing a disservice to your fellow human. There are decent human beings on both sides of this debate. Let’s not lose sight of that.


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  • steve

    gotta say, no, equality is NOT the most important aspect of success and happiness. working hard and doing the right thing sort of take precedence over that. no one is guaranteed happiness, life is unfair, and equality is a myth. if there was such thing as equality there would be no such thing as handicapped people, or poor people, and so on. on that note when are people going to acknowledge that yes, homosexuality IS a deviation from the norm, in a technical sense. no, there is nothing “wrong” with them, and no they shouldn’t be punished, but being different from the general population will preclude them from certain things, such as traditional marriage. for a good frame of reference check out the story of that girl in reseda who was told she would never find employment in the medical field because she was a midget, and she turned around and sued. well maybe they were discriminating against her, but there was a reason for it.

    • Member of the LGBT Community

      I want to make sure I understand what you are getting at. You are saying that treating people who are a “deviant from the norm” as second class citizens is the right thing to do. How is that okay? Treating me as someone who is beneath you is not okay and is not the right thing to do. You also say we shouldn’t be punished, but not allowing us the same basic rights as heterosexuals is punishing us. I will agree with you when you say that no one is guaranteed happiness and that life is unfair; however I think that you should treat people how you want to be treated. Heterosexuality and homosexuality aren’t two different things. They are different versions of the same thing. Do you see the root word “sexuality” in there?

      You make several contradicting statements in your comment. I think you should think about what your statements actually mean before stating them.

      • steve

        Okay well to clarify, what I mean by deviation is that homosexuals are still only a fraction of the population. “You are saying that treating people who are a “deviant from the norm” as second class citizens is the right thing to do.” That is putting words in my mouth. I never said that. Without condoning their viewpoint one way or the other, it’s my understanding that what opponents of prop 8 take issue with is changing the law to accommodate that small segment of the population, especially when it comes to something as important as marriage. It would be like changing the official language in the US to Chinese so as not to offend the Chinese-American population. I know, that comparison is crude perhaps, but it doesn’t mean that Chinese people are beneath or inferior to any one else. Bear in mind that the law was voted in democratically, does that make more than half of California hateful and bigoted? Or just folks or feel strongly about keeping marriage heterosexual, without any condemnation of the gay community attached? To reiterate what the original article said, gay people aren’t being denied their basic rights as you contend. They aren’t being oppressed or thrown in jail. As far as I know marriage is the only aspect where their rights differ in this country, according to the law. Unfair maybe, but your well being and quality of life should not rely only on being allowed to be married. And yes heterosexuality and homosexuality are different. Like men and women are different. Whether you like it or not.

        • Harrison

          Those who oppose same-sex marriage, according to most on the Left, clearly ARE hateful and bigoted, Steve. The Left is able to dismiss the views and arguments of those on the Right by simply stating that those of us on the Right are not just wrong, but bad. Dismissing our humanity as hateful, bigoted, racist, homophobic, islamophobic, sexist, xenophobic, etc. Why bother debating with a hateful bigot? Think this assessment is wrong? Simply scroll to the top of the page and compare the veracity of the comments made against me personally with the respectful tone I included in my piece.

          As Dennis Prager is so often wise to point out, being on the Left means never having to say you’re sorry.

  • steve

    I just want to say kudos to harrison, for having the guts to support an admittedly unpopular stance, and also for maintaining his composure i.e. not resorting to petty insults. let’s not forget that most of the state of california still thinks that marriage should be between a man and woman, otherwise it would have been legal. and the fact that president obama, the darling of college campuses and the liberal media, has unequivocally stated his objection to gay marriage. harrison is absolutely correct in saying that much opposition to gay marriage is also founded on practical concerns. it’s not all about self righteous bible thumpers. just something to keep in mind.

  • Kris

    Let’s go back in time to Loving v. Virginia again. A white man wants to marry a black woman, and is suing the state for that right. If the author was a juror on that case, this is what they might say:
    “ A white man cannot marry a black woman. This isn’t about black marriage, but interracial marriage. Besides, black people have some rights, so why don’t they just compromise the rest? Give them a separate but equal civil union. They shouldn’t be imposing their values of racial tolerance on me when the definition of marriage has maintained its holy immutability since he beginning of time. Society requires standards! If we allow black people to marry white people, what’s next? Men marrying dogs, or, worse, men marrying other men? No, I don’t hate black people, I’m just defending traditional marriage.”

  • Justin B

    Harrison, you start of your argument based on semantics. It really is unnecessary to draw a distinction between “gay marriage” and “same-sex marriage.” They are synonymous, much like “traditionalist” and “ignorance.” Maybe I’m wrong; it might not be an issue of ignorance as much as it is negligence. Either way, there is something fundamentally wrong about this argument.
    You argument is well-versed. However, I’m not looking to “clarify where we differ,” as you so eloquently put. Reason being, that difference is the status-quo; if Californians truly look to model ourselves as a progressive state for equality we don’t need to “clarify issues,” we need to win hearts and minds. This requires attentive debate, not lame discourse.
    With that said, I’ll do my best to offer some insight for the points you have risen, excluding the first seeing as though it was already addressed.

    • Justin B

      2. To compare the two directly, the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement and GLBT Rights movement are different. There is no question there. You can wash that just based on historical context. With this in mind, there’s also little question that both movements involve Civil Rights. So, it wouldn’t be a stretch to call the GLBT Rights Movement the “Civil Rights Movement of Our Time.” When a group is being oppressed by a majority, doesn’t that sound a lot like the Civil Rights Movement? In this case, Evangelical Heterosexuals or Catholics who put their faith in a church whose leadership should be charged as sex offenders. Sure, I agree that the oppression isn’t to the extent of that which was displayed in the 1960’s movement. Yet on that note, the homosexuals and heterosexuals also haven’t fought a Civil War.
      3-4. “The GLBT community wants to change the definition of the word “marriage” because it would signal that society at large approves of their lifestyle choices.” The word “marriage” has no traditional permanence. In example, the hypocritical Mormons who almost single-handedly funded this proposition are well known for their fantastic track record of polygamy. Where do they get this concept from? The god-fearing bible. As a “traditionalist,” you should be aware of the term’s history. It’s not a lifestyle that is in need of acceptance, its legal rights. I’m fairly certain the “GLBT Lifestyle” is already widely accepted. Have you turned on the T.V. at all in the past ten years? Take a drive a little further south on the 405 and you’ll find out whom and what defines Los Angeles culture. Marriage is equality; “civil unions” are not. This is a perfect transition from the 2nd point; doesn’t this sound an awful lot like those outdated “separate but equal” institutions? I’m also fairly certain that we have all learned that despite the name, “separate but equal” institutions aren’t equal at all.

      • Justin B

        5. “We Americans too often confuse compassion with standards. Compassion and equity are wonderful in our personal lives, but a successful society requires standards.” A two sentence summary about the nature of the American, I love it! I personally believe that we should reinstitute slavery in the United States to ramp our GDP and improve our economy. Is slavery intrinsically evil? Possibly, but why muddle standards which could improve our country with compassion? Please, with what’s given here there are hundreds of examples on how compassion is needed within a society. So when I’m in the privacy of my own home I’m a compassionate individual, yet when I step out into the public sphere I become a cold-hearted vampire?
        6. I campaigned with Equality California and HRC to do voter outreach in conservative communities. When I heard this argument relating human love with animal love as a prerequisite for marriage, I skipped over the conversation entirely. After a few discussions with these people I came to the realization that they are just too idiotic to recognize the distinction between humans and animals. Despite what you may think, (homo)sexuals are still (homo)sapiens. This in and of itself should be enough to rebuke your argument here.
        7. You are more than welcome to make claims that you’re not bigoted or homophobic. However, the arguments that you present in this article say otherwise. I sincerely hope that the majority of the younger generation is more open-minded about this issue. It worries me when I see articles like this published on a college campus.

  • Drew

    My brother is a second year law student at ASU and recently finished a FACT BASED paper for his class on Sexual Orientation and the Law. I think it would behoove you to read this as many of your comments are clearly not supported by facts.

    If you are interested in clarifying your ignorance, I would be happy to send it to you.

    Contact me at schwartz.an@neu.edu

    -Drew