Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to acknowledge gay marriage. Since then, I have heard several unpleasant comments from those who do not like the idea. The interesting thing is that these comments were made in Canada where the Canadian Supreme Court has voted in favour of gay marriage over a decade ago.
What points are the naysayers making? Initially, I always thought that the problem had to do with intolerance. The traditionalists believe in a morality according to which people should only have sex with the opposite gender and they want to impose their sense of morality on others. It seemed that no philosophical arguments could sway them. My greatest argument was that two consenting adults could do with each other whatever they chose to do. Since they do not harm anyone by loving each other, why do the traditionalists care so much what gender they are?
As it turns out, the matter is not that simple. The latest comments I have heard made me think that the traditionalists are not necessarily intolerant; rather, they are scared. It seems that showing understanding and tolerance means that they are afraid of having to agree with this lifestyle. The fear is that if they agree with this lifestyle then they lose their own belief in a traditional marriage. The structure of the philosophical argument seems to be that, “If I agree that you may be right then I am automatically wrong and, I have to believe what you believe”. Of course, the traditionalists seem to be horrified that this argument makes them open to entertaining the idea of having to contemplate the possibility, in their own lives, to marry someone of the same gender. As twisted as it seems, supporting gay marriage leads to the fear of becoming gay.
I have to say that I am surprised of the amount of fear born out of a misunderstanding of the structure of the basic argument. The argument in support of gay marriage is an argument for human rights. It is about a freedom to choose. It is an argument in support of the belief that people have the right to choose whom they marry. Agreeing with this right does not take away from the value of the traditionalists’ position. If traditionalists believe that they should marry a member of the opposite gender only, they are free to fulfill this obligation in their own lives. The support for gay marriage does not take away their own freedom and does not impose a moral obligation on them to participate in gay marriage. The gain is freedom for others and not the loss of morality for some. In fact, there is no loss, at all.
The best example I can offer is from fiction writing. Traditionalist fiction writers can choose to create stories where there are no gay couples in any of their tales. All they have to do is to tolerate those writers who embrace the support for gay marriage and choose to incorporate gay characters in their tales. In fact, I have to say that, just like in my case, one does not have to be gay to include all types of characters in a story. Despite the fact that I am not gay, I am planning to include a lesbian woman in one of my upcoming books.
The world does not lose by everyone gaining equal rights. So, relax everyone! The world is big enough to include everyone’s love for each other!
M. J. Mandoki