29 June 2005

Gay Marriage in Canada

Canada's House of Commons has voted today to allow gay marriages nationwide. By doing so, Canada is continuing to demonstrate its openness and progressive thinking, especially when compared to its increasingly religion- and hate-driven southern neighbor, the United States.

As I make my first post on my blog, I want to take a moment to congratulate the Canadians on this monumental achievement, and to look over the odds and ends in the gay marriage fight in the United States and elsewhere.

It is notable to see that the front-line fighters in this issue on either side are not gays, but straights with a broader agenda of their own. Opponents want to push a broader theocratic agenda that will eventually also punish women, ethnic minorities, the poor, non-Christians, and many other groups. It's not about defending the traditional definition of a man-woman marriage at all; the gay "threat" exists only in their collective imaginations, and again, they are pushing a much broader agenda. Supporters of gay marriage rightfully see this, and try to stop the opponents in their tracks in order to keep the civil rights bandwagon rolling in the right direction. They feel that if gays fall, they themselves are next, and rightfully so.

As a single person, I see the gay marriage issue as a major issue for ALL singles, regardless of current dating status, sexual orientation, religion, or any other characteristic. The goal here is to make marriage a privilege, by anointing it with tax benefits, preferential treatment at work, and other perks, and defending those perks in the name of "family values." By denying this "privilege" to gays, gays become perpetual second-class citizens, and singles who choose not to marry for a number of reasons will suffer the same fate. I like the freedom of being solo single, and I do not understand why it's a lifestyle that my government must penalize. For more thoughts on this, please see the Unmarried America website.

Also by examining this issue through the viewpoint of the Christian radicals, it is easy to see that the only marriages that matter (or other things as well) are the ones sanctioned by their churches. I thought the United States, at least, had a secular government - at least until the Bush Administration came in. While the Bible clearly disapproves of homosexuality (I have decided that it is indeed the case after many agonizing hours of examination myself), and Christian churches have every right to decline gay marriages, they already have the right to decline many other kinds of marriages (i.e. interracial, interfaith, ones between cousins) that the law may allow in the secular world. The religious radicals are using gay marriage as an issue to sway people into cowering into their narrow world view; their eventual goal is to make only Christian marriages legal, and many straight couples will also be hurt by then, too late to regret.

And in the multicultural society that is the United States, we must also not overlook the responses of various racial and ethnic groups to the gay marriage/homophobia issue. Although the conventional liberal wisdom is that the power-endowed whites are using this issue as a way to suppress one more minority, the truth is that homophobia is a much bigger issue in minority communities, which are often, sadly, actively looking for other targets to vent their frustrations on, and which often are driven by family/group dynamics as opposed to individualism so common to white communities. In Ohio, it was the homophobic black churches that are credited with delivering crucial votes for Bush and other conservatives in 2004. And here in Southern California, the official languages of homophobia are not English, but Spanish and Korean, thanks to the overwhelming Latino and Korean populations and their heavy reliance on Catholicism and radical Protestantism, respectively. I will be dealing with these communities in my future blog entries. Unfortunately most liberals don't see the damage done by other "disadvantaged" groups against gays. The individual choice, permissivity, and freedom that are so crucial for the gay rights movement are, unfortunately, mostly European values - so far, and while various ethnic groups (including Latinos and Koreans) have some sort of gay subculture in their native history and society, they don't surface themselves in the world of conformity that they have in modern day America.

The best thing the gay rights movement, gays and straights alike, can do at this time, IMHO, to further its cause, is to frame this as a civil rights issue that it is, not only for gays, but for straight singles and eventually everyone else as well. We also must recognize the ethnic-level homophobia and face it instead of denying it in liberal feel-good mantras as I've seen it done so many times in the past. I hope that today's victory in Canada will soon translate into a victory for the United States and the rest of the world soon.