Marriage Equality, Genital Algebra and the Expansion of Love
It has recently been pointed out to me that I discuss the subject of marriage equality a lot. After giving that statement a moment’s thought, I replied “No, I think I discuss what I don’t understand a lot in an effort to try to come to an understanding of it. I don’t understand the opposition to two people who love each other getting married regardless of their gender, so I will probably keep talking about it someone can successfully explain it to me.”
Then, of course, I read the latest bit of nonsense by Rick Santorum, who stated: “let’s look at what’s going to be taught in our schools because now we have same sex couples being the same and their sexual activity being seen as equal and being affirmed by society as heterosexual couples and their activity, and realized that a successful explanation is something I shouldn’t be holding my breath for, and I will probably be better off trying to figure it out for myself.
And so, upon continued reflection on the matter, I have come to realize that I actually DO understand that source of the opposition “ some people in the world are so heavily invested in their beliefs that they don’t even realize they believe them.
What people who oppose marriage equality believe is that a person’s sexual organs, what they choose to do with them and who they choose to do them with has an adverse effect on that person’s level of equality.
Of course, if one does on some level judge equality on the basis of genitalia, it begs the question of which ones are worth more? Is a penis of higher value than a vagina? Do two penises result in penile disparity, diminishing the worth of both? And where do a deuce of vaginas rate on the equality scale? Is it P=V but PV>PP and VV but PP is < VV? What about Transgender people? Does having genitals added or subtracted alter the formula? Is there some table of genital Algebra that only the detractors of marriage equality have access to?
If this sounds ridiculous on its surface, that is because it is. And I am fairly sure that if you were to actually ask most detractors of marriage equality straight out if they believed that one’s value as a person is determined by their choice in underwear, they would say “Of course not” and, for the most part, would truly mean it. They will then proceed to cite the basis of their assertions on religion (ignoring the fact that not everyone shares their religious beliefs and there is no scientific basis for them), biology (ignoring the fact that not all male-female couples are able to conceive children), childhood development (ignoring the studies that show that children raised by same-gender parents do extremely well socially, academically, etc.), or the preservation of traditional marriage (ignoring the fact that marriage is, was and has always been a cultural practice that has undergone as many evolutions as society itself).
In short, arguments opposing marriage equality are based not on fact, but on a subjective reality that people pretty much make up as they go along, often without even realizing it. Strangely enough, this, for a variety of reasons, makes complete and utter sense. After all, making up realities is exactly what the brain is designed to do “ it manufactures cohesive and convincing illusions that allow you to effectively navigate within your immediate surroundings. In fact, if the brain DIDN’T make up reality for you, people would shrink as they walked away from you and everything you see would be upside down. Literally. The brain ignores the parts of itself that knows the unreality of things at the quantum level – that solids are full of empty space, that colors are frequencies and angles of light, that we never touch a thing, that bacon is a set of vibrating molecules that don’t really have a deliciously bacon-y smell and that the universe is so big that any attempt to conceive of it in its entirety would result in an utter collapse of perspective.
The problem with the Rick Santorums of the world is that what they are ignoring is the reality of people. Through their lack of empathy and inability to see beyond the horizons of their self-created world, everyone else has become undiscovered country, colliding head on with a natural fear for that which is unknown. Living in the isolation of their subjective realities, they become estranged from the collective one in which people are not talking points and political parties, but living, breathing flesh and blood bundles of emotion with ideas and wants and hopes and dreams and a powerful desire to share and to love. The Rick Santorums of the world are fully ensconced behind their walls of fear, unwilling and, perhaps eventually unable to come out from behind them and see that the desire to be a part of something and to unify is what equalizes us all. And the manner in which we choose to achieve and express that, among and between consenting and informed adults, is what makes each of us unique.
In a very real way, to deny anyone the opportunity for unity is to deny them the opportunity to fully experience their own individuality. Which, if a person chooses that for themselves, it their absolute right to do so, but to impose that on another is about the most inhuman thing a person can do.
On some level I would like to think that having real and meaningful conversation with marriage equality opponents might make the world outside their walls seem a little less menacing. I know a good number of same sex couples, and none of them want to take ANYTHING away from anyone else — married, single or otherwise. At most, they want the continued expansion of love, even if it requires an alteration of the definition of marriage. (Although, some would call it an evolution of the institution, but evolution tends to be something the hardest of the hardcore marriage equality opponents seem to object to.) Maybe if they had the chance to tell their detractors face to face why the right to marry should be inclusive of all, they would be able to see that a world full of loving couples, equally committed to each other regardless of gender, could only be a good thing.
And besides, if continuing to have this conversation helps my understanding the opposition to marriage equality, then perhaps it will help its opponents understand the necessity of supporting it.