Nothing natural about that law

Zach Wiita

Well, it seems gay marriage has become the talk of the town. From Proposition 8 to Stater columns to public gatherings, LGBT rights and same-sex marriage are once again front and center in our little community. It’s amazing how much energy our society wastes worrying about condoning who has consensual sex with whom, isn’t it? You may have heard why same-sex marriage ought to be legal. But the immoral, anti-American rhetoric of those who would seek to ban it needs to be fought.

There are, in fact, only three reasons I have ever heard for banning same-sex civil marriage. All arguments against gay marriage boil down to one or more of the following:

1) “Homosexuality is not conducive to reproduction, and ergo should not be condoned through marriage rights.”

2) “God doesn’t like it.”

3) “Ew, gross.”

As far as #3 goes, I think it’s absolutely disgusting to eat corn on the cob. I literally cannot eat corn on the cob without becoming nauseated. If we’re talking natural law, I’m not sure how much more natural it gets than every instinct in my body telling me that the stuff’s bad news. Does my “natural law” mean it ought to be illegal?

As for #2, the problem with “God doesn’t like it” should be obvious to anyone who values religious freedom. Our founding fathers chose to establish a religiously neutral government for a reason. (Don’t believe me? Read the U.S. Constitution. The word “God” never appears.) If one religious group can use the power of the state to force its views on the entire community, where does it stop? What if an extremist sect of Islam came to outnumber everyone and tried to force its belief that women should not be allowed outside the home on everyone else? What if extremist Catholics came to outnumber everyone else and wished to make it illegal for anyone to divorce or use contraception? What if extremist Atheists came to outnumber everyone else and tried to make it illegal to use God’s name in public? A nation built on liberty means accepting you do not have the right to impose your beliefs on other people.

Argument #1 persuades many. The problem with this argument, however, is that it’s based on the notion that the sole function of human sexuality and relationships – and, by extension, the legal institution of marriage – is to promote reproduction. This is pure nonsense, though; by that logic, we would have to deny marriage licenses to any couples who are planning to deliberately avoid conceiving children. People can give you mumbo-jumbo about how infertile straight couples still role model the proper role of sexuality for the young, but they’re shooting themselves in the foot. An infertile couple is role modeling this and only this: That the primary function of marriage is to serve as a mechanism for the official expression of love and a life-long commitment to monogamy.

That’s it. Marriage is not, first and foremost, about sex or creating new life. It is about love. It’s about people who love each other coming together to officially express their love and commitment, and to thereby form a family. That’s it.

There’s this other foolish notion out there that somehow gay couples are incapable of loving each other as deeply as straights do because they can’t naturally conceive children, but anyone who’s ever really gotten to know a same-sex couple without preconceptions knows that’s bunk. And anyone who thinks that the “essential meaning” of human sexuality is first and foremost about reproduction needs to stop and ask himself why, if that’s the case, Mother Nature would design us to want to experience sexuality long past child-bearing age. Seems to me the essential meaning of sex is, again, more about love and mutual pleasure. Reproduction is a function of those three things. They are not functions of it.

So there you have it. Marriage and sex are about love, not creating new life. Given that, there’s nothing unnatural about homosexuality – and nothing unnatural about same-sex civil marriage. If anything, it’s a violation of natural law to tell a man that he can’t do something that harms no one else – that, in the words of Thomas Jefferson, breaks no one’s legs and picks no one’s pockets.

Do there need to be provisions in the law stating a religious organization can refuse to recognize or perform a same-sex marriage? Sure. Forcing a church to perform a marriage they believe to be illegitimate would be a violation of their First Amendment rights; no religious institution should be compelled to perform any union it disagrees with, but neither should they be able to ban the state from performing such unions itself. Religious marriage can be whatever they want it to be, but legal marriage needs to include same-sex couples.

Of course, one hopes that as we move forward, Americans will learn to get past such petty bigotry. After all, isn’t our common commitment to liberty, justice and equality supposed to be what sets us apart from the rest of the world?

Zach Wiita is a senior political science and theatre studies major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].