As the battle over same-sex marriage heats up, the opponents of same-sex marriage are stepping up their rhetoric. It’s not surprising.
The idea of marriage for most people involves the idea of consummating that marriage and that means SEX. The idea of sex between two people of the same sex gives some people hives, and thus the fear of same-sex marriage. But here’s the deal, the problem is much deeper.
I think a lot of our opponents are afraid of us. They are scared not of our homosexuality, but our sexuality in general. Just like fundamentalist religions, their strict interpretation of scripture inevitably leads to a crisis of faith or a complete dumbing down of the eloquence of the ancient writings in the Bible and other holy books. These sexual fundamentalists see sex as strictly a means of procreation. Anything beyond that is “dirty” and “perverted”.
This is the attitude that makes the message against contraception resonate in some arenas. When politicians like Rick Santorum can actually find support for limiting availability of contraception, what they are really doing is giving voice to the fear that sex can be something other than breeding.
For sexual fundamentalists, if sex beyond conception is pleasurable, then it is wrong. They are locked in the same mentality that people like me rebelled against in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Though there was a lot wrong-headed about the Age of Aquarius mentality, there was some of it that was spot on. The fact that human sexuality is not a binary system and that there is a whole spectrum of sexual attraction and sexuality beyond the hetero-normative model is a fact.
For sexual fundamentalists that is a threat. Their world is ruled by simplistic order and bumper sticker wisdom. Critical thinking is not allowed. In their world the fact that LGBT people can find happiness and sexual fulfillment outside their rigid model threatens their belief system. Accepting same-sex marriage sends them into a panic because it triggers a crisis of faith. If there are more kinds of sexuality than just the heterosexual procreation version, they might have to examine their own sexuality more closely. Heaven forbid!
Just listen to people like Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage and you can hear the fear. She consistently lies about LGBT people and what we do to support her cause and more deeply her belief system. It is little wonder that the right-wing has attached religious freedom to the issue. For sexual fundamentalists it is a tenant of their faith. It might as well be the eleventh commandment, “Thou shalt not have sex except to foster children. And under no circumstances shoulds’t thou enjoy sex, least ye suffer crushing guilt”.
On the flip side, so many LGBT people want to pattern their relationships and personal sexuality on the rigid hetero-normative model. They want to assimilate into the whole binary system and look just the same as everyone else. Relationships that fall outside the straight analog model are as much anathema to these people as gays are to sexual fundamentalists.
For us to actually achieve real freedom, it’s going to take a concerted effort to combat the belief that there is only one model for relationships. It’s going to take people becoming comfortable with their own sexuality, gay or straight. It’s going to take moving the conversation from allowing same-sex people to marry to providing legal rights for all people and their relationships. It’s going to be messy and difficult and it won’t be easy.
Finding a path to freedom rarely is.
We must begin to talk as adults, honestly and openly about sex in all its aspects if we expect to see any real change. We need to acknowledge that the spectrum of sexuality is indeed a rainbow, not just black and white.