I've been watching the coverage of the parade of gay couples getting married in San Francisco, and the images' most most powerful message is how happy these people are. And frankly, just writing about and thinking about all the beaming, happy, joyful faces I've seen, in the 15 second image bytes the media present to us, gives me a pleasant glow, a frisson chill up the back of my neck. .
No, I am not gay. I am in a monogamous, heterosexual relationship and have three children. But I can still be happy for these thousands of couples who, it seems, for the most part, have been living together for years, even decades, who finally have the chance to do what so many other happy, loving couples have done. To exercise their equal rights as citizens to forge a bond cemented with official approval of the community.
I do not look at them and see sexual deviates. I do not look at them and see threats to the institution of marriage. I see examples of loving happy relationships, people who've made life commitments to each other. And that's a good thing.
There's the issue of fairness-- that they should be able to have the same rights as married heterosexual couples, in terms of taxes, health insurance, visitation privileges and the hundreds of other rights and privileges that are associated with marriage. But to me the true message this explosion of marriage in San Francisco sends is that it's about love. Do we as a nation punish some people for who they love?
Unfortunately our nation has a long history of doing exactly that. We've had laws against inter-racial marriage with severe penalties. But those finally went the way of slavery and indentured servitude.
It's worth taking a look at an excerpt from A New York Times article on the history of how San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's decision to take this brave path of love and conscience evolved:
"less than two weeks after his inauguration on Jan. 8, Mr. Newsom found himself sidetracked by what quickly became the defining issue of his career so far. It began with an invitation from Representative Nancy Pelosi, a longtime family friend who represents the San Francisco region, to attend President Bush's State of the Union address.
It was there, sitting in Washington, that Mr. Newsom heard Mr. Bush speak against same-sex marriages.
"I was there and I just was scratching my head, saying this was not the world that I grew up aspiring to live in, that he was talking about," Mr. Newsom said. "I just found some of the words quite divisive."
When Mr. Newsom returned to San Francisco, he said, he read the court decisions that authorized gay marriage in Massachusetts, as well as the United States Supreme Court ruling last year on sodomy. As he mulled those precedents and Mr. Bush's comments, he said, he became convinced that he had a moral obligation to open the doors to same-sex marriages.
Unlike many other big-city mayors, Mr. Newsom had the ability to do so because San Francisco is both a city and a county, and in California, marriage licenses are a county responsibility.
"He is president of the United States, and I am just a guy who does stop signs and tries to revitalize parks," Mr. Newsom said. "I know my role. But I also know that I've got an obligation that I took seriously to defend the Constitution. There is simply no provision that allows me to discriminate."
Mr. Newsom acknowledged that it was a difficult path from that realization to the first same-sex wedding ceremony at 11:06 a.m. last Thursday. He said some of his top advisers had strongly recommended against the new policy because of the political fallout.
With business acumen, money, good looks and friends in the right places, Mr. Newsom has been promoted by many Democrats as a rising star. Some people suggested he wait and let the courts tackle the issue.
But Mr. Newsom said he had no patience for a long court battle.
"It was an easy argument, I imagine, between 1948 and 1967, when we all waited around for the courts of this country to recognize interracial marriages," Mr. Newsom said. "There are certain principles in life that transcend patience, and one of them to me is the obligation not to discriminate against people."
It's hard to understand how people can watch these happy people and not get behind them. Framing expert/ cognitive scientist George Lakoff says that the reason the right wingers oppose same sex marriage is because conservatives base their politics on a "strict father" moral family structure. In a recent article, he writes,
"The strict father is moral authority and master of the household, dominating both the mother and children and imposing needed discipline. Contemporary conservative politics turns these family values into political values: hierarchical authority, individual discipline, military might. Marriage in the strict father family must be heterosexual marriage: the father is manly, strong, decisive, dominating a role model for sons and a model for daughters of a man to look up to.
"The nurturing parent model has two equal parents, whose job is to nurture their children and teach their children to nurture others. Nurturance has two dimensions: empathy and responsibility, for oneself and others. Responsibility requires strength and competence. The strong nurturing parent is protective and caring, builds trust and connection, promotes family happiness and fulfillment, fairness, freedom, openness, cooperation, community development. These are the values of a strong progressive politics. Though the stereotype again is heterosexual, there is nothing in the nurturing family model to rule out same-sex marriage.
"In a society divided down the middle by these two family models and their politics, we can see why the issue of same-sex marriage is so volatile. What is at stake is more than the material benefits of marriage and the use of the word. At stake is one's identity and most central values. This is not just about same-sex couples. It is about which values will dominate in our society.
"When conservatives speak of the "defense of marriage," liberals are baffled. After all, no individual's marriage is being threatened. It's just that more marriages are being allowed. But conservatives see the strict father family, and with it, their political values as under attack. They are right. This is a serious matter for their politics and moral values as a whole. Even civil unions are threatening, since they create families that cannot be traditional strict father families."
Looking at it from this theoretical perspective, taking the step of allowing same sex marriages is a declaration of war against the conservative moral family model. But this is the same model that rejects allowing women to have the right to chose how they care for the bodies (abortion,) that would reject offering teens birth control at school, or even, sex education.
Now, I see this group of right wing paternal dictators another way. I see them as anti-love, as against allowing people who are not in any way hurting them or anyone else to experience the happiness they should have a right to under the constitution. And that's ugly. These dark control freaks have gone too far. We need to send them back under their rocks and the dark places they hide-- back where they'll be happy keeping their secrets about child molesting priests and abusive parents, where they can preach tax-nonpayment parasitism and fear.
Mary Cheney, the daughter of vice president Cheney is gay. She's a real person, not just a target minority group that right wingers can aim their hate and fear at.. It is pathetic that her father would keep her from finding the happiness that a wedding ceremony offers-- that he'd sell out his daughter to tow the right wing party line.
Now, there are those right wing self-righteous zealots who will declare that same sex marriages allow homesexual sex-- that this is an abomination in the bible. Well, I have to wonder about parents who would treat their own children so badly, and how about the philandering adulterers who so self-righteously judge these monogamous couples. Right Winger, thy middle name is hypocrisy.
I wonder how these hypocrites think God feels about all this. It's interesting that two judges have responded with delays that allow the marriages to go on.
Mayor Gavin Newsom deserves hearty congratulations for his courage in taking a stand to protect the rights of the people in those long lines winding around San Francisco's city hall. He's created a romance story for the new year, that, irregardless of the judicial outcome, will reverberate through the annals of the history of freedom and equality.
Rob Kall email@example.com is editor/founder of OpEdNews.com, president of Futurehealth, Inc. and organizer of the Futurehealth Winter Brain, Optimal Functioning and StoryCon Meeting. This article is copyright Rob Kall and originally published by opednews.com but permission is granted for reprint in print, email, blog or web media so long as this credit paragraph is attached. Over 85 other articles by Rob Kall