Speaking of Multiple Choice...
By A.D. Freudenheim

10 August 2003

Switching topics (but not straying far from the question of multiple choice), homosexuality has been all over the news lately: television shows; court decisions; varying attempts at legalizing marriage between homosexuals (or otherwise legitimizing these unions in the eyes of the state); delicately-phrased Presidential condemnations of the aforementioned efforts; and Anglican angst over two different gay priests, one here in the U.S., and one in England. (Who even knew that Anglicans had angst?)

That’s fine and dandy, but I ask in all earnestness: where are the bisexuals? And the trans-gendered? I’m not joking; I think we as a nation are, once again, stuck in a rut. The American need for simplistic issues with black-and-white decisions is rearing its ugly head once again. Why do people have to choose – or accept labels placed on them by others – to identify as either heterosexual or homosexual, and nothing in between? In fact, the argument over gay “marriage” strikes me as too simplistic. Why are we debating a broadening of the definition of marriage, only to limit it again?

Isn’t the real issue here about “alternative” families, about pushing our civic institutions to accept that what matters is familial stability, neighborliness, an increase in our individual and collective prosperity, and an ability to raise children to be productive, contributing members of our society? These are the core values even the conservatives say they believe in – and all of them have nothing to do with who fucks whom and in what fashion. Heather may have two Mommies, but what about Larry, who has one Mommy and two Daddies all happily sharing a house together?

I believe, firmly, that people should have the right to “marry” whomever they choose. Marriage should be a union of consenting adults, regardless of other factors, including sexual identification. Moreover, widowed partners in these unions are deserving of the same rights that have long been granted to the surviving partners of heterosexual couples. (Whether marriage should extend to religious ceremonies is entirely up to a given denomination and its own beliefs and constituencies.) There is, however, nothing that says these unions have to be between two people, yet here, too, we’re stuck in a rut.

I also know that in tackling this issue, the organizations pushing the agenda for gay marriage probably see this as a wedge issue: first, open up the discussion for “normal,” one-on-one homosexual unions, and then other opportunities for broader definitions of family will present themselves. Fine. But getting stuck in a rut of ideas – and the language used to describe these ideas – will only make it more difficult to take the next step. What we are really debating here is not “gay marriage,” but rather the full, civil, legal rights of non-heterosexuals. These rights are well deserved, and we should stop holding back on delivering them.

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