I know, ever since the dawn of civilization, people have been treated unfairly, and there’s not a nation on this earth who can honestly claim historical equality. If it wasn’t bad treatment based on ethnicity, it was social class or tax bracket, and universally, women and children have always been property. Every country and culture who claims they’re free, that they treat their people equally and humanely, and that they’re disgusted by some other group’s treatment of people, has only but to look to their own past for references to racism, sexism, ageism, slavery, genocide, and so forth.
Now, one of the reasons I love America is very a realistic one. I’m not deluded by chauvinism, I don’t pretend we Americans were all free from the start — there’s no place on earth where that was ever true. But ever since the first group of “free” people rose up from the notch of peasants working the King’s land, whenever one class of people in this country rises, everyone else gets closer to a position where they can complain of unfair treatment, and it becomes harder and harder to understand any minority being treated as second class. Why should rich be free, but not poor? White, but not black? Men, but not women? Christian, but not Jew? It’s slow as hell, completely insane, and totally hypocritical, but it’s pretty much the only way to get it done. Every time one class succeeds in being seen as legally equal, it just gets that much harder to rationalize conserving equality for just the politically powerful. And we’ve come so far already, we’re getting very close to real freedom for all, not just middle-aged upper-class rich white Christian men. While some people in this country — usually influential Christians — currently laugh their asses off when you suggest that children should have the legal right to not be beaten and to choose their own religion, it wasn’t that long ago when you got the same reaction by suggesting that women should have those rights, too. And it would be unheard of now to suggest that someone in this country, based only on the color of their skin, couldn’t get married or have children, just because some people are old fashioned and it’s best not to offend them.
How can it be that difficult to understand? It’s never been anything other than a question of equality, and only allowing straight people to marry is just another way of telling gay people that they’re not equal, that they count for less, and so will be kept segregated. A few years ago, my mother argued with me for quite some time about whether or not gay people should be allowed to marry. She refused to discuss the issue for what it was, insisting that civil union was really the same thing, while admonishing the institution of marriage, as if the issue was whether or not gay people should want to get married. There are plenty of prejudiced nut-jobs bitching about marriage being a traditional institution between a man and a woman — which is BS, by the way — and allowing same-sex couples to be married would (somehow) destroy marriage itself. But there are just as many cowardly bigots rationalizing the issue with, “Who really wants to get married?” and “Civil union is the same thing.” That is, for lack of a better parallel, such a twinkie defense. In reality, people are brought up to revile any sexuality that isn’t entirely hetero, always for some ridiculous reason, like fathers secretly believing that if they “let” their sons be gay, people will assume it’s genetic or something. In this irrational state, people will make any excuse to banish difference from their midst, and politicians — who couldn’t begin to give a damn about any of it — ride that fear and hatred into office. It amazes me that conservative jackasses have the nerve to jabber on about how America is “the greatest nation in the world,” about how we’re all free, when so many of us still have to fight for our right to exist.