The marriage amendment bill. The gay thing. It’s all a bit icky for us straight people, isn’t it?
But hey, there are also plenty of heterosexuals I would rather not picture together in the bedroom. Teachers, parents, accountants … the mechanics of what everyone does, gay or not, is all kind of weird and hilarious and generally too icky to ponder.
What people do in the privacy of their own ickiness should really be up to them. And now some of those people want the right to marry the person that they love.
I say, great, I support love, faithfulness and marriage. I’m a happily married heterosexual who thinks gays should be allowed to marry too, if they want to. What’s the problem?
One problem is many people believe it is categorically wrong, sinful or unnatural. This is a genuine crisis for those charged with loving the sinner but hating the sin. Tolerating homosexuality might be one thing but validating its naughtiness through something as sacred as marriage feels way too far.
The whole debate has slowly nudged a lot of good hearted people into an awkward corner.
I grew up with an assumption that homosexuality is pure depravity but over time I changed my mind. A significant part of this journey was getting to know people who are gay.
There’s no better way to shatter a stereotype than to meet the person you are prejudging. It’s amazing how some things we assume to be so important fall away in the face of real human relationships. You soon realise gay couples pose no threat to marriage, or by extension, civilised society. They’re not on a mission to indoctrinate their adopted children with leather fetishes.
This slippery slope argument we’ve been hearing from some quarters drives me particularly bonkers. The slippery slope argument implies we are on the verge of a gay apocalypse. Let them get married and before you know it the foundations of society will crumble. They’ll brainwash our kids, it’ll be Sodom and Gomorrah all over again and the entire human race will grind to a big gay halt.
A lot of this hyperbolic fear probably has more to do with stereotypes than reality. For most people stereotypes are all they have to work with.
It is fair to say that gay campaigners have often flaunted their sauciness with pride so for some people the entire gay culture might appear from the outside to be little more than one long hero parade. Look at them, waggling their bits at us from the float. Why would we let that kind of naughtiness mess up the pure institution of marriage?
As though the heterosexual world has done such a fine job keeping marriage pure so far.
I’m not scared of gay marriage at all. There are gay couples who would probably do more for the integrity of marriage than many straight couples. Two people who genuinely love each other have got to be better for society, not worse.
Opinions on both sides need to be tempered with grace and respect. Snarky protest placards won’t do anyone any good. My friends who are uncomfortable with gay marriage are not homophobes or bigots. Their struggle with this is legitimate and respectful and should be treated as such.
Change is always unsettling but I hope the time will come when we wonder what all the fuss was about. Let’s not forget that this is a public argument about people’s personal lives. These are real people we are talking about. At the end of the day it is people who matter the most.
First published in the Bay of Plenty Times 5 April 2013. Reproduced with permission.