THE HEATHEN MIDDLE
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Gay Marriage - Right Not Referendum

Should gay persons be allowed to marry their partners? The question has been stirring controversy in states all across the country. It is even the subject of voting for constitutional amendments in various states. This is a new twist on democracy, being able to cast a popular vote on the extension of civil rights to a minority. If Blacks in America had depended on a popular vote to grant them civil rights, they would still be picking cotton. Instead, it was activist judges who extended many of the civil rights to ethnic minorities.

Gay or Lesbian marriage could not possibly damage the institute of marriage more than heterosexuals already have. The real question that needs to be asked is: What does society think it wants gay and lesbian persons to do? For the Christian Right the answer is probably, to accept Jesus and be healed of their homosexuality. For other conservatives it would, perhaps, be acceptable if gay/lesbian persons simply disappeared. In a recent Republican Presidential debate a couple of the candidates suggest equal rights in the form of Civil Unions. That is not equal.

For the Christian Right we could say: If a couple hundred years of burning gay people at the stake didn't manage to make them all change, your harassment on radio and television is probably not going to do it either. For the other conservative factions it should be known that gay/lesbian people are a part of the American family. They are our sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, doctors, lawyers, priests, and more. They will never just disappear

For many years one of the criticisms of gay men was that they were promiscuous. In previous decades in America the gay bar was one of the very few places where gay/lesbian persons could find community. In the 50's to the 80's these bars probably could not have existed without some kind of local police payoff. Why would society be surprised that drinking and promiscuity could take place at a bar?

Sometimes we may forget that the gay community has experienced the devastating blows of AIDS before (and since) there was treatment. Lots of friends of gay/lesbian Americans are gone. The crisis brought a new focus on monogamy. Considering the potential for AIDS, why wouldn't all Americans want to encourage monogamy in comparison to promiscuity in any community?

Science has convincingly shown that there is no solid line between gay and straight. There is constant, and sometimes surprising, crossover in the grey area. Recent revelations about prominent straight Right Wing politicians could be a good example.

The real questions are: