A Rose by Any Other Name: On the Subject of Same-sex Marriage and Other Questionable Choices
By Jim Wherry, First Posted July 6, 2015 | Written June 26, 2015.
Last summer, I moved from Fairbanks, Alaska to Columbus Georgia for a new job. I knew I was saying good-bye for good to arctic temperatures and wild changes in the length of day. What I did not know was that I would become part the civil rights history of the South.
I am gay (I prefer the technical term, “Queer as a Three Dollar Bill”) and I became engaged to a great guy from the Philippines. We are both politically conservative and so we did this by the book and lawfully applied for and obtained a fiancé visa.
He arrived at the end of May, and with today’s Supreme Court decision, we went down to the Columbus, Georgia Government Building and were married about 2 hours ago! I am so happy!
The howling – of course – has begun in earnest on TV, the radio and letters to the editors of our favorite hometown newspapers. I’d like to take the opportunity to address some of the wilder protests of shock and horror and try to reassure my straight, religiously conservative friends.
First, same-sex marriage is not an assault on marriage. Rather than being an assault on marriage, it is an endorsement of that “institution for the people who ought to be institutionalized, in the first place.”
Same-sex marriage is also not an endorsement of homosexual sex. The fact that heterosexuals go to church and talk about what I do in the privacy of my own bedroom is a little creepy to begin with, but honestly: recognizing same-sex marriage does not mean you are endorsing me: it’s the other way around. When I married, I endorsed your institution by joining it. I agreed for many years with the actor Ian McKellen, when he said, “Frankly, I’ve always thought that the fact that we didn’t have to marry was one of the best things about being gay.” And then he went and married Patrick Stewart off to his girlfriend. Ah, well: Love is blind. But seriously: if same-sex marriage is an “assault” on marriage, what effect has it had? Since we began allowing same-sex marriages, has your own marriage gotten worse? Do you no longer feel “as married” as you used to? Are you thinking about divorcing? Have your children called to tell you that they intend to continue to live in sin because “if those homos get to do it, what good is it, any more? We no longer feel special!”
Second, same-sex marriage will not “destroy our civilization.” As far as I can tell, our civilization has not come crashing down around our ears in the past few years. Well, no more than usual. But if this new phenomenon is going to hurt our civilization, how will it destroy civilization? Will gay men get married and then strap bombs on themselves and blow up tall buildings in downtown New York? Will we stop paying our taxes? Stop putting coins into parking meters? Will we go into the homes of the blind and re-arrange their furniture?
Third, yes, the Bible speaks against homosexual conduct – no getting around that – but it also speaks against a lot of other things. A recent group of Evangelical and Catholic ministers got together earlier this year and proclaimed that same-sex marriage was a far greater threat to our nation than fornication or adultery.
Now that’s odd, because this group ought to know that the Bible condemns all three acts. First Corinthians 6:9 actually hits all three in the same verse. But these ministers were clever and they knew that the majority of people in America sleep with someone before they marry them. Pre-marital and non-married sex (fornication) is nearly universal among Americans.
The ministers also knew that many heterosexual marriages end in divorce that had nothing to do with adultery. All good Catholics know that Jesus said, if you remarry and your first divorce was not because of the adultery of the other person, then you and the new spouse are committing adultery, every time you sleep together.
Strategically, these ministers were trying to build a coalition because they know that we homosexuals are a minority, but taken with all the rest, we’re an overwhelming majority, and if you’re going to try and take someone’s rights away from them, make sure you picking on the little guys.
*Sigh* Fornicators, Adulterers and Sodomites. Oh my!
But some of my religious friends may be missing a point: I don’t want to live in your theocracy and neither do most of us, whether it is run by ISIS or by our local church. And hey, don’t blame us for every wrong in the world. Remember that story about Sodom & Gomorrah? No homosexual sex ever did take place in that story. And the group of presumably heterosexual men were offered two young girls, Lot’s daughters!
Now look, “I’m sure that most heterosexuals are probably not child molesters. Some of my best friends are heterosexuals. I’m just sayin’. . . .”
But good Lord! No self-respecting gay man would have sex with women of any age or in any form! Vaginal sex is fairly repulsive to me. I agree with Roger from the TV show American Dad: “I never could trust anything that bleeds for three days and doesn’t die.”
So if none of these arguments work for fundamentalists, what are the real reasons they oppose same-sex marriage? To begin with, they find what we do to be “icky” and do not want to endorse it.
As I’ve said before, same-sex marriage is not an endorsement of what I do in my own bedroom, or how well I do it. More to the point though: I’ve seen your porn, and I know what you people apparently do, and apparently there is a lot of sodomy that goes on among heterosexuals!
It really comes down to this: the fear and the hope is that “if gays are allowed to marry, they will feel good about themselves, but if we can prevent them from marrying and make them feel bad, maybe they’ll stop being gay!”
Folks, it doesn’t work that way.
We were gay before same-sex marriage was allowed, and we’ll be so even if it was not. But yes, it was enjoyable to experience the simple pleasure of just being an “average” American, looking for wedding rings, and having the formal celebration of our engagement with my fiancé’s family in the Philippines.
As for me, I just turned 50 years old, this month. I spent a lot of years living in the closet, struggling with my own feelings and feeling ashamed of myself. At this point in my life, I’m an accomplished lawyer and I have served my country in uniform for more than 16 years. I deployed twice to Iraq, once in the invasion and again in 2008-2009 (I didn’t get it right the first time, so they made me go back). I’ve served in Africa and taught the ethical use of force to Ugandan soldiers. All so that you and I would have the same freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom to be tolerant of others, that some people seem to take for granted and abuse.
I don’t really have much left to prove. And shouldn’t those of you who are concerned with marriage be working on that hideous heterosexual divorce rate of yours?
We are your brothers and sisters, your sons and daughters, and occasionally we are your uncle who lives alone and is always telling you the reason he never married is that he “never found the right woman” – you know, the one with those three cats? Yeah, he’s lying to you: he’s gay.
Jim Wherry lives, writes and works in Columbus, Georgia.
Views expressed are not necessarily those of the Department of Defense or any component thereof. But they should be.