Tuesday night my mom showed me last week's Norwood Bulletin (August 19, 2004) for Len's column -- "A spiritual shift toward gay marriage acceptance" (page 21). It opens with a story of a lesbian wedding he went to and he talks about how theirs is a loving and committed relationship and how the fact that they can now be legally married in this state gives us hope for the future and on it goes with intelligent positive things. He discusses the Massachusetts SJC ruling and during his discussion of that, writes:
Clearly there are many within our State who do not agree with the court's decision. Ten years ago, I also might have disagreed. But my thinking has changed. Years ago, many believed homosexuality was a choice and therefore could be labeled as a sin. But over the years, we have come to understand there is not much choice involved. People are who they are because of DNA more than because of choice. I know this statement cannot be proven yet, but just look at the pain many homosexuals have endured over the years because they knew society abhorred them. Is this something you would choose?I'm very much an essentialist when it comes to sexual attraction insomuch as i think you can't help who you are attracted to (an enjoyment of particular sexual practices is something far more subject to change). However, from reading things that engage the issue, i have come to be troubled by the idea of validating something only because it is a choice. I can choose not to masturbate, but that doesn't mean that i should be legally prohibited from doing so. I'm quite fond of Len, and obviously i'm very happy that a retired minister has consistently been writing intelligent columns in my town newspaper supporting gay rights, but because this particular slant on the essentialist argument has come to be troubling to me, i feel the need to problematize it for other people. So here's the letter i wrote and mailed out on Wednesday:
While I don't read the Norwood Bulletin regularly, I have read at least two columns by you in support of gay rights, which makes me so very happy. You are thoughtful, kind, and articulate, and the fact that you agree with me on this very important issue increases my respect for you.
However, I am concerned by one thing you wrote in your August 19th column. You mention that homosexuality isn't a sin because it isn't a choice. I fervently believe that homosexuality is not a sin, and in fact that the Bible does not condemn homosexuality, but I am concerned by the line of reasoning that it is only because there is no choice involved that it is allowable. I don't believe one has a choice about whom one falls in love with, and for years I argued that because it isn't a choice, gay people shouldn't be discriminated against because of it. In doing further research, however, I have come to be troubled by the argument that it is only because something is not a choice that it is allowable. For example, one has a choice of which, if any, sex acts to perform, so arguing for sanction based on a lack of choice leaves the door open for the criminalization of specific sex acts. I think a lot of people respond to the "People can't be gay, so don't discriminate against them" argument, but I just had to register my discomfort with it.
Thank you again for your continued support of gay rights.
I flipped through the rest of the paper, and page 4 Letters to the Editor gives us this gem:
Gay marriage coverage inappropriate*sighs* When i went to work on Wednesday i looked for the previous week's Bulletin to see if the photo accompanied an article that related more to Norwood, but i couldn't find a copy of that week's, so here's the letter i wrote:
To the Editor:
I am quite surprised that the Bulletin would put the marriage of two lesbian women from Florida not only on the front page of the last issue but also superimposed by a large heart. Do you really find this newsworthy and of interest to families in Norwood?
Do you really think that we would like to explain to our children how two women can marry and artificially conceive a child and tell this child that she has two mommies and no daddy? I don't think so.
I sense that our local paper is beginning to exhibit an editorial slant that is going to become unwelcome in due time. I do hope you will get outside and get a real feel for the good people in our Town. News like this is not worthy of families living in Norwood.
To the Editor:Of course, the Bulletin comes out on Thursdays, so this was way late, but i wouldn't have felt right not writing anything. Am curious to read the Letters section in tomorrow's Bulletin.
I didn't see the issue of the Bulletin that Ruth Schiavonoe referred to in her August 19 letter, but while I can see her point that a marriage in Florida is not necessarily something to be put in the Norwood Bulletin, I am troubled by her implication that it has no connection to Norwood. Norwood, like every other town across the country and across the globe, has gay citizens, many of whom are in committed relationships which they would like to have legally recognized by the government.
The other complaints she raises do not hold water. Explaining same-sex marriage to a child is as simple as "When two people love each other, they want to declare that in front of their friends and family." As for explaining how a same-sex couple has children, certainly "With the help of a doctor" would suffice for small children. We are constantly finding ways to explain the complexities of the world in ways which our children can understand. Certainly we can manage for this situation as well.