mrcreek: Rana palustris, the pickerel frog (Default)
[personal profile] mrcreek
Writing little essays is kind of fun. Let's try another one.

The issue of marriage equality, and equal rights in general for people all sexual orientations, is very important to both [personal profile] wintercreek and myself. However, even though we arrive at the same conclusions, I think we approach the topic from slightly different places. Understanding why people hold the opinions they do may be helpful for changing the minds of dissenters, so I think this phenomenon is worth investigating. If I may, I will caricature our two positions for the purpose of rhetoric; in reality, of course, there are multiple subtle factors influencing what we believe.

[personal profile] wintercreek is an extraordinarily compassionate person, which is one of the many reasons why I married her. Like most of the DW community as far as I can tell, she finds joy in the romantic lives of others. She is touched by images and stories of strangers finding happiness together. She wants all committed couples to be able to marry because she cares about their love life. In contrast, I want all committed couples to be able to marry because I don't care about their love life. To me, who you want to kiss is a personal matter. Not only is it none of my business, but if I don't know you personally I really would prefer not hear about it. Therefore, I have no right to impose limits on your romantic pursuits, and neither does anyone else. Even though my position is rooted in apathy, I am not apathetic about its enforcement. This is an issue of basic justice and liberty, and I would defend it with the same zeal as I would, say, free speech (including the freedom to make banal statements I could care less about).

Again, this is a slightly overly simplistic take on our reasoning, but it's based in truth. The same effect is seen in our fictional tastes, for example. [personal profile] wintercreek is much more likely to enjoy a romantic plot than I am. I don't think I am a particularly atypical straight man in this regard.

Statistically, men are consistently more likely to oppose marriage equality than women are. I haven't seen a poll broken down by sexual orientation, but I'm guessing that it is primarily heterosexual men who are opposed. Coincidentally (perhaps), it is primarily heterosexual men who are in positions of power and whose opinions will need to be changed for social progress to be made. Humans are complex, and I realize I can't extrapolate from my own sample size of one to all lady-loving dudes. Nevertheless, as a heterosexual male, I think many of us are more influenced in this area by our sense of apathy than by our sense of empathy. Our instinct is to ignore the sex lives of others, but unfortunately many men have been taught that what other people do in the bedroom is of utmost importance. If you want to make the most converts, tell people to go back to following their gut. Instead of showing them an emotional photo of a pair of brides or grooms embracing, consider reminding them how boring Meg Ryan movies are. There are a lot of people who will feel more supportive of matrimonial rights the less they hear about the lovey-dovey details, not because they find homosexuality disgusting, but just because they find it about as dull as heterosexuality when they aren't a participant.

As a side note, we don't really need to change anyone's mind, we just need to wait for the old people to die. The age divide is even more striking than the gender divide when it comes to gay marriage, and I am quite confident that the issue will be resolved and our current laws will seem laughably backwards in a generation or two. While this trend is reassuring in a big picture sense, it's still cold comfort to those whose rights are being denied right now. For this reason, I do advocate fighting for justice as soon as possible.

One of my least favorite people, Dick Cheney, did remarkably manage to express my sentiment perfectly with his summation of gay rights, "freedom means freedom for everybody." I can't imagine him saying, "what a cute couple." To win over the Cheney types, you need to think like a straight guy.
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