The closer it got to Election Day in the state of Maine this past week, the more uneasy I got. Before this past Tuesday, 30 consecutive states had voted against marriage between persons of the same sex.
In the states where it had been allowed—Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire—it had been through acts of the Legislature or court rulings. Every time gay marriage has been put to a popular vote in the United States, it has failed.
At issue this time around was a law passed by Maine’s Legislature in the spring that would have allowed gays to wed. But after a petition drive by opponents of the law, the issue was put on the ballot so residents could decide their future.
Proponents of the law had the governor, the Legislature that passed the law, and major newspapers on their side. And Maine being a New England state, was reputable for its libertarian and independent leaning. And to even top that, opponents of the law were outspent by a 2-1 margin by gay rights advocates.
If you are fundamentally opposed to gay marriage, it seemed the streak of 30 states and counting was coming to a screeching halt.
But today, the state of Maine has outrightly voted against gay marriage.
The lesson we learn from this cannot be that of exclusion or intolerance. Every civilization has dealt with this at one point or the other.
And to those who think opposition to gay marriage is mainly a byproduct of religious beliefs partly miss the point, if not altogether. Opposition to homosexuality predates even Christianity.
Ancient civilizations have had to grapple with this issue, and their ordeals should be lessons from which we can learn. In Ancient Greece, for example, where homosexuality at some point became rampant and uncensored, it was noted to have caused disorder. Even the esteemed Greek philosopher, Plato, whose work has laid the framework for modern writings, eventually called for the prohibition of homosexuality after fervently supporting it.
I believe the mistake we’ve made as a society is to ostracize gay people.
It is not a matter up for debate that the family is the basis of any society or community. Without technological advances, we know a man and a man, a woman and a woman, left alone unassisted cannot procreate and in such sense do foil the foundation of a sustainable community.
It is a phenomenon we see every day all across Nature in her many species.
One cannot say our gay brothers and sisters are inhuman or less human because of their orientation. My assertion is this; whether such orientation is by choice or innate (as some believe), it’s unsustainable and problematic to the bedrock of any community on earth.
Being gay does not rob one of intelligence, talent, or basic human functions and attributes. No one should ever subconsciously think that. Matter-of-factly, one of my favorite daytime talk hosts is Ellen DeGeneres. Wanda Sykes, a comedian who happens to be lesbian, is one of the funniest people I know. I watch these people with excitement given the chance.
I say this because opposition to gay marriage should not be viewed as considering gay individuals second-class citizens, but as a sustained effort to protect natural order in which societies function best.
Human beings are blessed with the ability to love, and that goes for everyone across the spectrum, gay or straight. So if the argument then becomes: “Love is a basic human function, why can’t homosexuals be afforded the same legalized right to acknowledge their relationships?”
The answer should be – anyone is free to love whomever. But recognition of such love is not always in the best interest of the community. There is a norm to a healthy society, a constraint in which it must function, otherwise everything falls apart.
And in this society, homosexual relationships which are in the minority (according to exit polls in the 2008 Presidential elections, only 4% of voters self-identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual) are an abnormality to that norm.
If we could say because love is a valid human emotion, where do we draw the line? Do we then say the polygamist who professes his undying and unconditional love for his 10 wives is within total range of normality? In some society, maybe, but in ours, we know it leads to disorder.
So if we cannot openly espouse such a belief regarding the polygamist who would like his love legalized, why should we that of a homosexual couple? They are all human and endowed with certain inalienable rights by their creator after all.
Which is why need to have stronger anti-discrimination laws and enforce more aggressively the hate-crime laws we do have. To oppose gay marriage is not to be intolerant and bigoted. We must rather welcome our gay brothers and sisters with love; thereby showing them that our opposition to such lifestyle and situations where it is impractical is not a symbol of disgust or hatred toward their humanity, but that of love for a sustainable one.