Homosexual marriage does not pose a threat to me or my manhood therefore I am for it." Although I am heterosexual, I know what it means to long for union with another human being. I will choose a woman for my partner, but if another man desires to choose one of his own sex, there is no harm for me in his choice. In fact, since we are both part of humanity, his legal union, as does mine, brings positive reinforcement to the institution of marriage.
As early as 400 BC Plato in his Symposium discussed the mystery of sexual desire, concluding that humans are always searching for their other half, having been cut in two as punishment by Zeus. The whole humans that existed before this action, according to Aristophanes, Plato's debating companion, all had two heads, four legs and four arms. They were of three types: some with both halves male, some with both halves female, and those who were half male and half female. Although Plato's argument rejects marriage for males in his own time, it does pertain to our time in it's understanding of why homosexuality does not deny masculinity and how a dedicated homosexual relationship can be the most self enhancing union possible. Far from being shameful, says Plato, boys who like boys, are "bold and brave and masculine," tending to cherish "what is like themselves. In seeking out their long lost other half, they find a sense of love and "of belonging to one another." Plato poses a question which is extremely relevant in the instance of the current argument. Assuming that there is more than mere sex to the question of human bonds, Plato has Hephaestus, god of the forge, stand over two lovers lying together and ask: "What is it you human beings really want from each other?" With his mending tools in hand, Hephaestus says:
Is this your heart's desire, then -- for the two of you to become parts of the same whole, as near as can be, and never to separate, day of night? Because if that's your desire, I'd like to weld you together and join you into something that is naturally whole, so that the two of you are made into one. Then the two of you would be one being, and by the same token, when you died, you would be one and not two in Hades, having died a single death. Look at your love, and see if this is what you desire: wouldn't this be all the good fortune you could want? (Sullivan, Same Sex Marriage 4-6)
In the history of the institution, marriage has not always been about love. As Jonathan
Rauch points out in an article included in Andrew Sullivan's Pros and Cons of Same Sex
At one point, marriage in secular society was largely a matter of business: cementing family ties, providing social status for men and economic support for women, conferring dowries and so on (170).
Arranged marriages, never were, and still aren't based on love. The case for same sex marriage, may also, in some cases, be a matter of business. Homosexual couples may, like heterosexual couples desire to share financial assets and responsibilities. They may want to bequeath and inherit like so called normal human beings. One male partner may want to support another less financially solid male partner. Gay couples argue that they deserve legal rights of "immediate family," such as medical decision-making and hospital and prison visiting privileges, obtaining health insurance, and tax benefits and public assistance, access to a spouse's medical, life and disability insurance, workers' compensation survivor benefits, spousal benefits from annuity and retirement plans, and the right to refuse to testify against one's spouse, to name just a few (Mohr 43-45 and (http://www.angelfire.com/home/leah/).Thus, to a certain point, gay marriage, like heterosexual marriage may sometimes contain an economic element. The larger aspects of gay marriage, and why it should be supported by straights, however, provide the solid structure of the argument.
Headlines recently recorded on the gay web site, PlanetOut.com, as collaborated by the Associated Press, confirm that around the world legalization of gay marriage is gaining ground. In April 2001, this Reuters headline appeared: "Netherlands Holds World's First Gay Marriages." The article described happenings on the first day a Dutch law allowing same-sex matrimony went into effect. "Two lesbian brides and six gay grooms became the world's first same-sex couples to wed legally, tying the knot in a colorful communal ceremony in Amsterdam. "Vows were exchanged "to the cheers and whoops of family and friends -- some clad in tight black leather, others in sedate frocks and picture hats." The passage of this unique law came about in spite of fierce opposition by Christian parties protesting that gays are merely satisfying their "lusts," which to this hearer, is an extremely contradictory argument. Certainly, one of the couples among those marrying, on the first day of legality was gratifying a long standing longing for legal union. After a 36-year relationship, the 63 and 72-year-old partners rejoiced to finally have a real union in the eyes of the law. These people are seeking true commitment. The Netherlands had previously, since 1998. offered gays "registered partnership," which allowed same-sex couples legal status similar but not actually called marriage. The desire, however, to offer the symbolism of true marriage to those of any and all sexual orientation, encouraged the legalization of homosexual unions in this "country that sets the global pace in gay rights" (http://www.PlanetOut.comunpaged).
In further headlines, in August 2001, same sex couples across Germany "cut cakes and sipped champagne and exchanged rings" as official registration of same sex unions became legal. In July of 2002, an Ontario, Canada, court ruled that not recognizing the legality of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The three-judge Superior Court panel also ordered Parliament to offer a redefinition of marriage within the next two years. Canadian law currently defines marriage as "a union between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others." In September of 2002 voters in Zurich, Switzerland, approved giving same-sex couples the same rights and benefits as heterosexual married couples, including tax, inheritance and social security. Six months before qualifying for these benefits, same-sex couples who must live in Zurich must offer formal commitment hat they will share a joint home and to provide each other with mutual support. This decision shows that the state no longer considers these couples "second-class citizens," said a combined group of gay activists. Similar rights for same-sex couples are being sought throughout Switzerland. (http://www.PlanetOut.comunpaged).
All this progress did not come easily, and in our own country we must be continually vigilant to be sure that we are moving toward human recognition of rights for homosexual couples. It has been a long hard struggle and there is much more ahead. As William Sloane Coffin states on the cover of Richard D. Mohr's book, A More Perfect Union: "Whenever we demean gays and lesbians, we diminish ourselves." In his chapter on Gay Marriage, Mohr, uses a scene from Harvey Fierstein's play Torch Song Trilogy to make his point. Arnold, who's gay lover has just been killed, is having a heated exchange with his mother who feels insulted to think that her widowhood may be compared to the loss her gay son has suffered. Arnold's reply to his mother is a perfect summary of how straights diminish themselves by bashing gays. Arnold says:
You had it easy, Ma. You lost your husband in a nice clean hospital, I lost mine out there. They killed him there on the street. Twenty-three years old, laying dead on the street. Killed by a bunch of kids with baseball bats. Children. Children taught by people like you. 'Cause everybody knows that queers don't matter! Queers don't love! And those that do deserve what they get! (22).
In 1987 a California court declared that in a case similar to Arnold's that a homosexual relationship, no matter how "emotionally significant, stable, or exclusive" could be cause for a suit against bashers for "emotional distress" or "wrongful death" (Mohr 40). This all too familiar attitude places gays in a less than human status and debases the society that allows it. Disavowing so-called legal definitions of marriage as a union of male and female designed for the propagation of children, Richard Mohr offers another definition: "Marriage," he says, "is intimacy given substance in the medium of everyday life, the day-to-day. Marriage is the fused intersection of love's sanctity and necessity's demand" (41).
In the epilogue to his book, The Case for Same Sex Marriage, William Eskridge, attempts to explain America's "inexplicable" resistance to same-sex marriage by what he calls "fear of flaunting." In addition to just plain "ignorance" and "anti-homosexual hysteria," otherwise know as "homophobia," Eskridge analyses America's sex-ambivalent society, alternately fascinated and repelled by sexuality." He describes how our society is both "prurient and puritanical, tolerant and judgmental." Voyeurism is fine if the X-rated movie is…