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Historical Antecedents of Gay Marriage

After the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalized gay marriages and the mayor of San Francisco began issuing marriage licenses to gays, "President" Bush called for a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to a man and a woman. He proclaimed this was necessary to save civilization, or words to that effect.

Sadly, Bush revealed himself to be as ignorant about marriage as he is about everything else. Nontraditional marriages and other relationships have existed throughout history, beginning with the Bible. No civilization has ever collapsed because of its marital policies.

Not only do humans engage in nontraditional mating, so do animals. Many species are promiscuous, and hundreds have shown signs of homosexual behavior. Did these animals "choose" their sexuality, or did God create them that way?

Here's the evidence. First, from the San Francisco Chronicle, 2/27/04:

Scientists counter Bush view
Families varied, say anthropologists

Charles Burress, Chronicle Staff Writer

The primary organization representing American anthropologists criticized President Bush's proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage Thursday and gave a failing grade to the president's understanding of human cultures.

"The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution," said the executive board of the 11,000-member American Anthropological Association.

Bush has cast the union between male and female as the only proper form of marriage, or what he called in his State of the Union address "one of the most fundamental, enduring institutions of our civilization."

American anthropologists say he's wrong.

"Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies," the association's statement said, adding that the executive board "strongly opposes a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples."

The statement was proposed by Dan Segal, a professor of anthropology and history from Pitzer College in Claremont (Los Angeles County), who called Bush's conception of the history of marriage "patently false."

"If he were to take even the first semester of anthropology, he would know that's not true," said Segal, a member of the anthropological association's Executive Committee.

Ghita Levine, communications director for the association, said the issue struck a nerve in the profession.

"They feel strongly about it because they are the people who study the culture through time and across the world," she said. "They are the people who know what cultures consist of."

Segal pointed to "sanctified same-sex unions in the fourth century in Christianity" and to the Greeks and Romans applying the concept of marriage to same-sex couples, not to mention the Native American berdache tradition in which males married males.

UC Berkeley anthropologist Laura Nader, an expert in anthropology and the law who played no role in drawing up the association's statement, called it a "correct assessment."

Nader, who is an association member, said Bush's proposal "serves the views of the religious right, and that has to do with getting votes."


From the Berkeley Daily Planet:

Edition Date: Friday, March 12, 2004

Marriage ‘American Style' Not the Only Way to Go
By PETER S. CAHN  Pacific News Service (03-12-04)

NORMAN, Okla.—Defending his decision to support a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, President Bush declared that the "union of a man and woman is the most enduring human institution, honored and encouraged in all cultures and by every religious faith."

Well, not exactly.

Several religious leaders rushed to confirm Bush's claim about the universal definition of marriage, but what qualifies them as experts on cultures outside their own?

When social scientists get together to talk about this issue—and that's frequently these days—we cringe at the way opponents of same-sex marriage attempt to justify what may be personal beliefs with anthropological "evidence." Believe what you wish, but let's keep the facts straight.

The American Anthropological Association, the national professional organization of teachers and scholars who study human organization across the world, denounced the proposed amendment. They know that over a century of research has shown that marriage between one man and one woman is not the only or even the most successful way to organize a family.

I teach an introductory class in cultural anthropology, and one of the first things students hear is to examine marriage not as an institution that predates culture, but as a dynamic, flexible contract that responds to the demands of each culture.

Although monogamy between opposite sexes is the most common arrangement for joining spouses around the world, few societies find it beneficial to restrict marriage only to this form.

Polygyny, the marriage between one man and two or more women, is often found in societies like the Egyptian Bedouins, who live with scarce resources and find large families an asset. Where it occurs, polygyny is associated with high status, since only a wealthy man can marshal the resources necessary to provide for several wives.

Rarer is polyandry, a marriage between one woman and several men. Still, this form of marriage is considered desirable in Tibet, where arable land is at a premium. Rather than dividing the family's plot among several sons and their wives, all the brothers marry a single woman, keeping the land intact and maximizing economic resources.

The Inuit of northern Alaska practice a form of group marriage in which two monogamous couples swap sexual partners. The foursome does not live together, but comes to establish a bond of reciprocity that ensures mutual aid in an unforgiving environment. Children born to either couple consider each other siblings, further extending the pool of potential support and avoiding any sense of jealousy.

Where monogamy—just one spouse—is the norm, there are nevertheless examples of marriage between two people of the same biological sex: two men or two women. This is the case in many Native American societies that recognize a third gender, the berdache, who is anatomically male but spiritually neither male nor female. A berdache may live with a man, fulfilling the role of wife.

In societies where descent is traced through the males of the family, keeping the lineage going is more important than restricting marriage to one man and one woman. Among the Kwakiutl Indians of the Pacific Northwest, a man may marry the male heir of a tribal chief as a means of inheriting certain privileges from his father-in-law.

Similarly, a Nuer father in Sudan who has only daughters may ask one of them to adopt the social role of a man and take a bride. The female "husband" then selects a male mating partner for the wife. Any children born to the wife refer to the "husband" as father and become heirs of the paternal grandfather.

Contact with missionaries, changing work patterns and the integration of once-distinct communities into national states have diminished some of the diversity of marriage forms present in the world today.

Still, what remains constant is the relative novelty of the romance factor: affection between one man and one woman as a motivation for marriage is not the rule, or even the ideal in many places. No matter what shape they take, marriages across the world generally transcend the relationship between two individuals. They enhance solidarity between two groups.

While pastors may say same-sex marriage violates sacred tenets, neither they nor President Bush have the weight of world cultures on their side when they say that marriage has always been between one man and one woman. Anthropologists can attest: there is nothing natural or preordained about marriage "American style."

Peter S. Cahn teaches at the University of Oklahoma and is the author of All Religions are Good in Tzintzuntzan: Evangelicals in Catholic Mexico (University of Texas Press, 2003).


From the Salt Lake Tribune, 2/29/04:

Gay unions accepted as routine in cultures for centuries

Will Bagley

Marriage, says BYU law professor Richard G. Wilkins, "has always been about one sexual relationship — the union of a man and a woman." Of course, this would be news to Brigham Young, who said "I do" to some 56 women.

Consider the furor and outrage Mormon polygamy evoked in the 19th century.

The laws sanctifying the one-man, one-woman model of marriage had forced millions upon millions of women "to become a prey to man's lust and a consuming sacrifice upon the altar of illicit passion," the Deseret Evening News thundered in December 1885.

"One man to one woman only," the newspaper proclaimed, was "the exception in Christendom as well as heathendom" and was "one impracticable standard."

The News argued that polygamous marriage "prevails all over the world, and those who pretend to the contrary are very simple or very untruthful." That's a debatable point, even though it appeared in the pages of what The Salt Lake Tribune used to call "the font of truth," but marriage has been a flexible institution throughout history.

Much of the current debate over same-sex marriage reflects a relatively new tradition of fear and hatred of homosexuals in American culture. The concept of homosexuality only appeared in European medical literature in the late 1860s and reached the United States by 1892, but it was the sodomy trial of British poet Oscar Wilde in 1895 that introduced the concept to popular culture.

The "queer eye" was nothing new, however, even in Utah.

When Wilde (popularly known as the "Sunflower Apostle") visited Salt Lake City in 1882, he complimented LDS Church President John Taylor for his fine aesthetic judgment, and the Deseret News reported that young men adorned with enormous sunflowers filled the front row of his crowded lecture on interior decorating. (None of this was a stereotype in 1882.)

The Victorians turned it into an identity, but same-sex sex has been going on since time immemorial and was considered entirely natural in ancient Greece and Rome.

First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill didn't actually say "the only traditions of the Royal Navy are rum, sodomy and the lash," but he may have wished he had.

Rather than treat gay people as social outcasts, many cultures integrated men and women with transsexual natures into their societies. When French Jesuit missionaries found men among the Iroquois who dressed and acted as women, they called them berdache, incorrectly equating them with male prostitutes.

Many scholars now prefer the term "two-spirit." American Indian languages had a variety of terms — winkte (Lakota), nadleeh (Navajo), hemanah (Cheyenne), kwid-(Tewa), tainna wa'ippe (Shoshone), dubuds (Paiute) and lhamana (Zuni) to identify "a person who has both male and female spirits within," notes Lakota scholar Beatrice Medicine.

Anthropologists such as Elsie Parsons long ago observed that two-spirited men often married other men. Even earlier, William Clark told the first editor of the Lewis and Clark journals that Hidatsa boys who showed "girlish inclinations" were raised as women and married men.

Somehow, male-female marriage managed to survive in these cultures. Marriage even survived polygamy, which had extended the "blessings of matrimony and of home instead of discarding or destroying them," the Deseret News argued. "It surrounds the domestic relations with safeguards and a sacredness that are stronger and more enduring than any others."

Restricting such a good thing seems selfish.

Conservatives don't know marriage
How many ways must the experts disabuse conservatives of their wrongheaded notions of marriage? Well, here are a few more:

  • "It's natural to romanticize the history of marriage...."
  • "Rather than an unbending pillar of society, marriage has been an extraordinarily elastic institution...."
  • "In fact, polygamy has been more common than monogamy over the full sweep of human history."
  • "The strong conclusion that anthropologists have arrived at is that marriage isn't a single, timeless, unchanging thing."
  • From the LA Times, 3/31/04:

    Marriage: The State of the Union
    A knot tied in many ways

    * Anthropologists and historians point out that the history of matrimony is quite fluid. The constant? Economics.

    By Mike Anton, Times Staff Writer

    Throughout most of human history, a man married a woman out of desire — for her father's goats, perhaps.

    Marriage was a business arrangement. The bride was a commodity, her dowry a deal sweetener. And the groom was likely to be an unwitting pawn in an economic alliance between two families.

    A church may or may not have been involved. Government was out of the loop. There was no paperwork, no possibility of divorce, and — more often than not — no romance. But there was work to be done: procreation, the rearing of children and the enforcement of a contract that allowed for the orderly transfer of wealth and the cycle of arranged matrimony to continue.

    In the debate over same-sex marriage, each side offers competing ideals that they claim hark back to the historical essence of matrimony.

    In calling for a constitutional amendment banning homosexual marriage, President Bush has described contemporary heterosexual marriage as "the most fundamental institution of civilization," forged during "millennia of human experience." Thousands of gays and lesbians who have married in defiance of state law in San Francisco and elsewhere maintain they possess what has always mattered most in a relationship: Love.

    But marriage, it turns out, has never been that simple. For much of its history, matrimony has been a matter of cold economic calculation, a condition to be endured rather than celebrated. Notions of marriage taken for granted today — its voluntary nature, the legal equality of partners, even the pursuit of happiness — required centuries to evolve.

    "We live in such a chaotic world, the idea of a relationship that is constant — not only in our own lives but historically — is something we want to invest in," said Hendrik Hartog, a Princeton University history professor who wrote a book on the legal evolution of marriage. "It's natural to romanticize the history of marriage, and advocates of gay marriage are as invested in this as conservatives are."

    A 'malleable' institution

    Marriage as Americans know it today didn't exist 2,000 years ago, or even 200 years ago. Rather than an unbending pillar of society, marriage has been an extraordinarily elastic institution, constantly adapting to religious, political and economic shifts and pliable in the face of sexual revolutions, civil rights movements and changing cultural norms.

    "It's extremely malleable," said Thomas Laqueur, a history professor at UC Berkeley who has studied marriage and sexuality. "Historically, anthropologically, the word 'marriage' needs to be placed in quotation marks." One reason that marriage seems so unchanging is that it has evolved glacially, inching forward on many paths at once.

    In Greek mythology, Zeus created Pandora, the first woman. Then he made her the first bride and gave her as a gift to the Titan Epimetheus. The union ended poorly when Pandora opened the wedding gift she came with, unleashing from the box all of the evils of mankind.

    And some newlyweds today complain when they get a toaster.

    Like Zeus, Greek fathers considered their daughters property and essentially bartered them for the purpose of cementing an economic or political alliance.

    The Romans codified marriage, introducing the idea of consent and setting the minimum age of grooms at 14, brides at 12. There were three types of union, and which one you got depended on your social class. The rich got a confarreatio, which included a big celebration, a special cake, maybe an animal sacrifice. The masses simply shacked up, and after a time they were considered married. A woman in a coemptio was essentially sold to her husband and had the same status as a child.

    Arranged marriages remained common in Western societies into the 19th century. It is still the rule in parts of central Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It's a practice replete with abuse, from female infanticide by parents fearful of having to pay for a marriage someday to "bride burnings" of women whose families provide an insufficient dowry.

    The Romans promoted monogamy at a time when polygamy was common throughout the pre-Christian world. The ancient Chinese had their concubines, and from David to Abraham, the Hebrew scriptures read like Utah in the mid-19th century, full of men who had dozens, even hundreds, of wives.

    "Now King Solomon loved many foreign women: the daughter of Pharaoh, and Moabite, Ammonite, E'domite, Sido'nian, and Hittite women … ," reads 1 Kings 11:1, in the revised standard version of the Bible. "He had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned away his heart." Add a pickup, and it's a country song.

    Polygamy more common

    In fact, polygamy has been more common than monogamy over the full sweep of human history. The Roman Catholic Church would take up the push for monogamy, and through the centuries it overtook polygamy as the standard worldwide.

    But polygamy is stubborn. Though the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed it in 1879, polygamy survives in the shadows of the Mormon West. And, while waning, it is still practiced in the Muslim world and illegally in Israel by some ultra-orthodox Jews, among other places. Polyandry, marriages involving one woman and more than one man, have cropped up among Eskimos and, even today, in Tibet.

    Even where there have been clear rules about marriage, there have been more loopholes than there are in the U.S. Tax Code.

    King Henry VIII famously broke from Catholicism and started his own church largely so he could divorce and marry again — and again. European commoners who couldn't legally divorce sold their wives.

    The Muslim tradition of a temporary "pleasure" union, which dates to the days of Muhammad, is still used to legalize sex under Islamic law.

    Its Western counterpart: the Vegas quickie wedding, sometimes sanctified at a drive-through chapel or presided over by an Elvis impersonator. Impassioned couples began to flock to Nevada in the 1920s, after California imposed a three-day waiting period in an attempt to keep drunken lovers from the altar.

    What constitutes a marriage is so fluid that many anthropologists sidestep the word altogether, preferring "unions" or "alliances," said Roger Lancaster, a professor of anthropology and cultural studies at George Mason University in Virginia. Other scholars refer to same-sex unions throughout history — in cultures as varied as ancient Greece, tribal Africa and native North America — as marriages.

    No single, timeless thing

    "The strong conclusion that anthropologists have arrived at is that marriage isn't a single, timeless, unchanging thing," Lancaster said. "People are inventive and creative about the ways they've forged ties to one another."

    If there is a constant in the fluid history of marriage it is that economics has shaped the institution.

    Some historians believe marriage evolved during the shift from nomadic cultures to settled agrarian societies. When you're roaming the desert with your possessions on a camel's back, property and inheritance rights aren't as complicated as when land and buildings are involved.

    With increasing urbanization, children once seen as economic assets, as a source of labor, became an expense. Women were no longer property.

    The social upheavals spawned by industrialization — transient populations, mass education, the women's rights movement and the creation of leisure time — redefined marriage just as the plow once did.

    "Inventions like the bicycle, the telephone and the car all played a role," said Bernard Murstein, a professor emeritus of psychology at Connecticut College who wrote a book on the history of marriage. "These things gave kids a chance to get together on their own." Shakespeare was, of course, way ahead of the curve when he had Juliet dismiss her parents' plan for an arranged patriarchal marriage and hook up with a young hottie instead.

    I pray you, tell my lord and father, madam,
    I will not marry yet; and, when I do, I swear,
    It shall be Romeo …

    In the 1500s, this was forward-thinking stuff. But by 1905, the idea that love should be the paramount reason for marriage was mainstream enough for the Ladies' Home Journal.

    "No high-minded girl and no girl with refined feeling," a woman writer noted, "ever admits the advisability of marriage without love." Ever so slowly, marriage had become about compatibility, not how many goats the prospective in-laws had. Some believe that the modern institution of marriage didn't emerge until the early 19th century.

    "It's a 200-year-old story: the slow, haphazard but ultimately triumphal ascension of individual human happiness as the primary reason for marriage," Hartog said. "It's a huge change, and unprecedented. Love has always existed. But the idea that love should exist in marriage is a historic novelty."


    From the Los Angeles Times, 3/7/04:

    Birds Do It, Bonobos Do It

    If homosexuality is truly unnatural, why does it occur in 450 different species?

    Author: Marlene Zuk; Marlene Zuk is a professor of biology at UC Riverside and the author of "Sexual Selections: What We Can and Can't Learn About Sex From Animals."

    Anyone who doubts the relevance of homosexuality in animals to the current debate about gay marriage should consider Roy and Silo. The two male chinstrap penguins live together at the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan, eat raw fish and are rearing a chick of their own — kind of like those sushi-loving San Franciscans who've been flocking to the courthouse in droves lately. Roy and Silo, the New York Times reported recently, have been inseparable for six years, having sex with each other and showing no interest in female penguins (who also showed little in them). After the pair tried to incubate a rock, a sympathetic keeper gave the penguins an orphan egg to hatch, which they sat on for more than a month. Then they fed the chick until it was able to fend for itself.

    Animal homosexuality comes up in part because arguments against gay marriage often invoke phrases like "natural order," "natural law" or "crime against nature," which make it, well, natural to wonder about whether birds and bees do that, too. It turns out that sexual behavior directed at members of the same sex, up to and including copulation, is widespread among animals. According to Bruce Bagemihl, author of "Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity," some form of it occurs in more than 450 species, from plovers to bighorn sheep to, yes, penguins. We don't know how common it is in the wild, because if the sexes look alike, as they do in penguins, it can be hard to tell whether the members of a pair are male or female.

    Scientists, who are as subject to social biases as anyone else, have often ignored or explained away homosexual behavior in animals, although the tide now seems to be turning. In primates like the sexually adventurous bonobos, smaller cousins of chimpanzees and close relatives of humans, same-sex behavior is now understood to be part of a complex social life in which sexual gestures are often used to defuse tense situations. So the idea that homosexuality is unnatural or deviant simply doesn't hold up when we compare ourselves to other animals.

    That said, analogues to gay marriage in the animal kingdom can go only so far. If homosexuality evolved in animals, it has to have a genetic component. Obviously, Roy and Silo cannot impart the biological tendency to pair with another male to their offspring — they required the zoo equivalent of an adoption agency to obtain their chick. And exclusive same-sex pairing cannot persist in large numbers in a wild population since the genes associated with doing so by definition are not perpetuated.

    But then, analogues to heterosexual marriage are imperfect in animals, too. Long-term pairing is rare, particularly among mammals; our only close relatives to exhibit it are gibbons, those long-armed apes that whoop like banshees across Asian rain forests. And as far as monogamy goes, we are not as devoted as many species, since partner changes and infidelity are common.

    It is noteworthy that Roy and Silo belong to a species in which offspring are always raised by two parents. A similar male duo would be extremely unlikely in, say, peacocks, because male and female peacocks never stay together under the best of circumstances. Roy and Silo are still behaving like penguins in many respects, but if every penguin did exactly what they are doing, we would soon be sadly short of penguins. What that doesn't mean is that no penguin should do it, or that doing it is somehow unnatural or wrong.

    President Bush declared that "marriage cannot be severed from its cultural, religious and natural roots," but those natural roots leave humans huddled in a defensive little group of monogamists that includes gibbons, snow geese, marmosets, a couple of kinds of cockroaches, and of course those two penguins, gazing out at the hugely nonmonogamous rest of the natural crowd.

    This hardly suggests that we resign ourselves to the breakdown of marriage as an institution, however. As virtually everyone examining animal homosexuality has pointed out, whether or not animals exhibit a behavior is not grounds for emulating it. Marriage itself is a social and legal invention, not a literal translation of other species' actions. Roy and Silo can't get married, but neither could a male and female penguin. Neither gay nor straight marriage is particularly natural, if by natural you mean that it is found among a wide range of animals or rooted far in our evolutionary past. This should not bother us any more than it should bother us that we are the only species with flush toilets. At the same time, we should not view marriage as a cultural weapon necessary to keep our "animal instincts" toward sex with anyone, anytime, at bay. Animals — and people — do a lot of different things, and forming long-term pair bonds is one of them.

    What, then, does the homosexual behavior we see in other species, whether or not it involves lifetime pairing, tell us? For one, it suggests that among animals as among humans, sexual behavior is about more than reproduction. People unfamiliar with life in the wild often envision animals keeping their sexual contact to a bare procreative minimum, where male and female meet, mate and part as soon as the plumbing has everything lined up. Among some species that's true, but among many others sex plays a more complex social role in communication and in competition. Female vervet monkeys will mate outside the time they are fertile, for reasons that are still not understood.

    At some level, everything living organisms do is about sex, because reproduction is how we pass on genes. From a biological standpoint, anything that does not further our own reproduction — not the reproduction of others of our species, but our personal ability to perpetuate our genes — is useless. Viewed in this manner, staying warm is about reproduction, evading predators is about reproduction and regulating our heart rate is about reproduction, because without all of these we cannot pass on our genes, and if we do them without passing on our genes they are evolutionarily meaningless. Still, even if being warm is about sex, no one expects to get pregnant by putting on a sweater. Even behavior that is related to sex doesn't have to lead immediately and inexorably to conception.

    Going back to the bonobos, a student I once had in my animal behavior class was confused by the idea that sex was used to resolve social crises. Imagine, I said, that you and somebody else both wanted something, like a banana. If you were humans, maybe you'd fight over it, but if you were bonobos, you'd have sex. The student still looked puzzled. Yeah, he said, but then who would get the banana? By that time, I replied, you wouldn't care about the banana.

    Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times

    Rob's comment
    The views of Bush and his conservative brethren are a prime example of America's cultural myopia. They think that what's true for the US is true universally. They can't conceive of a culture operating on principles different from theirs.

    These people are like children, or perhaps chimps. They're unable to understand anything outside their limited experience. It's almost literally a case of "monkey see, monkey do." Or, more precisely, "monkey don't see, monkey don't do." They don't know anyone who's gay, so anyone who would think of marrying a same-sex partner must be an abomination.

    Luckily, these conservative children have the rest of us to educate them.

    Gay marriage causes its first casualty
    Opponents of gay marriage haven't identified how it would harm society because they can't. They can't point to any tangible effects because there aren't any. Until now, that is.

    From the LA Times, 2/29/04:

    Steve Lopez:
    Points West

    In a Pinch, Wedded Bliss Is History

    It's over.



    I want to confess it here and now, before I'm laid bare in a gossip column.

    When did the cracks in the marriage first appear? Long ago, I'm afraid. All that kept us together, really, was denial.

    Our time together began about 10 years ago, when my wife-to-be lived in West Hollywood.

    Need I say more?

    We would often stroll along the devil's own playground — Santa Monica Boulevard. We used to walk past the French Market and go to the Abbey. Homosexuals were everywhere, and some of them walked hand-in-hand, openly professing their love.

    It seemed perfectly normal, but that's precisely the point. An insidious plague threatens those of us who happen to be straight shooters.

    Once, in a crowded West Hollywood bar, a man pinched my left buttock.

    "That guy just pinched me," I told the lovely and talented Alison.

    She asked if I enjoyed it.

    I didn't think so, but then again, we moved to Silver Lake.

    When your neighborhood is always referred to as "artsy," it's code for you-know-what. The neighbor across the street was gay. Some of the regulars at the Coffee Table were gay. The couple we bought our house from was gay, and we became dear friends.

    After you've been in Silver Lake a while, it seems perfectly normal to start drinking chai lattes. Were we subconsciously rejecting our own heterosexuality?

    I don't know, but our man-woman love seemed quaint, if not imperiled. And then Massachusetts took the plunge on same-sex marriage.

    "The very fabric of society has been threatened," I said to my wife. "I don't know if our marriage can survive."

    "I can think of 100 better reasons to leave you than gay marriage," she said.

    "You don't understand," I sighed. "There's only one thing that can save us."

    "A month in Paris?"

    "No. A constitutional amendment."

    The leader of the free world came to the same conclusion a little too late. Only after San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom started handing out marriage licenses willy-nilly to gay couples did President Bush take action, calling for a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

    You have to hand it to the man. United States schools are an embarrassment, we're bleeding jobs, the deficit is sky-high, our young men and women are dying overseas, and yet Bush took time out of his busy election-year schedule to wag a presidential finger at gay sweethearts.

    "If we are to prevent the meaning of marriage from being changed forever, our nation must enact a constitutional amendment to protect marriage in America," Bush declared last week, warning of the "serious consequences" of inaction.

    God bless America.

    If we don't make heterosexual relationships a national priority, there's no telling what might happen. Couples could end up divorcing and screwing up their children's lives. They might start having kids out of wedlock. They might run to Vegas for quickie marriages that don't last until sunrise.

    We can't let any of that happen.

    "The amendment process has addressed many serious matters of national concern," Bush said. "And the preservation of marriage rises to this level of national importance."

    Why stop with a ban on gay marriages? I wondered.

    The divorce rate in much of the Bible Belt runs far above the national average, so it might be worth considering at least a temporary ban on straight marriage in that region.

    If you're like me, you've met a lot of couples who make you think, "Dear God, let's hope they don't have children." So there ought to be some qualifying standard for being allowed to procreate.

    If you couldn't do better than a C average in school, for instance, you shouldn't be able to have kids, and you definitely shouldn't be allowed to run for president.

    But Bush is off to a good start with the ban on gay marriage. No one before him has had the courage to stand so tall against the national tumult that could result from Bob and Tom saying, "I do."

    For me, though, as I was saying, it's too little too late.

    More than 3,000 gay couples have already been married in San Francisco. First my wife and I didn't speak, and then we fought, cracking under the pressure.

    "I want the house," she demanded.

    "Damn that Rosie O'Donnell!" I cried.

    It was as if O'Donnell and all those other smiley-faced gay newlyweds were trampling our marriage certificate.

    Sure, the unions are being challenged in the state Supreme Court. But the very idea of same-sex marriage devalued our roles as man and wife, creating what Bush referred to as "confusion on an issue that requires clarity."

    I'm not sure what he meant by "confusion," but I did suggest to my wife that we get a Shih Tzu, and I started pestering her with the same question, over and over again:

    "Do I look fat to you?"

    It's over.



    It all began with that pinch in the rear, I know it.


    Steve Lopez writes Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.

    Related links
    Gays threaten another marriage

    The gay agenda revealed
    Now the shocking gay agenda can be revealed! Here, at last, is what "those people" want:

    Mark Fiore:  Attack of the Gay Agenda

    To prevent this horrific outcome, perhaps we do need a constitutional amendment—preferably one based on the Bible. Here's one possibility:

    The Presidential Prayer Team is currently urging us to: "Pray for the President as he seeks wisdom on how to legally codify the definition of marriage. Pray that it will be according to Biblical principles. With any forces insisting on variant definitions of marriage, pray that God's Word and His standards will be honored by our government."

    Here, in support of the Prayer Team's admirable goals, is a proposed Constitutional Amendment to codify marriage on biblical principles:

    A. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)

    B. Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines, in addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)

    C. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)

    D. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30)

    E. Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor any state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9)

    F. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses to marry his brother's widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe. (Gen. 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10)

    On the other hand, if we're going to ban certain people from marrying, maybe we should ban the right ones. You know, the ones actually causing the division and destruction of the American union. The following came from an e-mail:

    Should Republicans be allowed to marry?
    Scientists discover that republicanism is hereditary....

    The discovery that affiliation with the Republican Party is genetically determined was announced by scientists in the current issue of the journal NURTURE, causing uproar among traditionalists who believe it is a chosen lifestyle.

    Reports of the gene coding for political conservatism, discovered after a decades-long study of quintuplets in Orange County, CA, has sent shock waves through the medical, political, and golfing communities.

    Psychologists and psychoanalysts have long believed that Republicans' unnatural disregard for the poor and frequently unconstitutional tendencies resulted from dysfunctional family dynamics — a remarkably high percentage of Republicans do have authoritarian domineering fathers and emotionally distant mothers who didn't teach them how to be kind and gentle.

    Biologists have long suspected that conservatism is inherited. "After all," said one author of the NURTURE article, "It's quite common for a Republican to have a brother or sister who is a Republican." The finding has been greeted with relief by Parents and Friends of Republicans (PFREP), who sometimes blame themselves for the political views of otherwise lovable children, family, and unindicted co-conspirators.

    One mother, a longtime Democrat, wept and clapped her hands in ecstasy on hearing of the findings. "I just knew it was genetic," she said, seated with her two sons, both avowed Republicans. "My boys would never freely choose that lifestyle!"

    When asked what the Republican lifestyle was, she said, "You can just tell watching their conventions in Houston and San Diego on TV: the flaming xenophobia, flamboyant demagogy, disdain for anyone not rich, you know."

    Both sons had suspected their Republicanism from an early age but did not confirm it until they were in college, when they became convinced it wasn't just a phase they were going through.

    The NURTURE article offered no response to the suggestion that the high incidence of Republicanism among siblings could result from their sharing not only genes but also psychological and emotional attitude as products of the same parents and family dynamics.

    A remaining mystery is why many Democrats admit to having voted Republican at least once — or often dream or fantasize about doing so. Polls show that three out of five adult Democrats have had a Republican experience, although most outgrow teenage experimentation with Republicanism.

    Some Republicans hail the findings as a step toward eliminating conservophobia. They argue that since Republicans didn't "choose" their lifestyle any more than someone "chooses" to have a ski-jump nose, they shouldn't be denied civil rights which other minorities enjoy.

    If conservatism is not the result of stinginess or orneriness (typical stereotypes attributed to Republicans) but is something Republicans can't help, there's no reason why society shouldn't tolerate Republicans in the military or even high elected office — provided they don't flaunt their political beliefs.

    For many Americans, the discovery opens a window on a different future. In a few years, gene therapy might eradicate Republicanism altogether.

    But should they be allowed to marry?

    How to prevent the collapse of civilization
    From a semi-facetious article on gay radar, or "gaydar":

    Republican Gaydar

    RNC to use Anti-Gay Scanners on all who enter the Convention to prevent anyone from catching queerness without an inoculation against it!

    Conservative Republican groups around the country are heralding the arrival of the new technology. Esther Ann Williamson, spokesman for the national conservative group Ladies Against People, described the announcement as a "relief." "We have been able to identify and discriminate against many groups for years — black people, Jewish people, you know, those ethnic types — but homosexuals have always posed a problem. They are hard to spot. You can't know to hate someone if you don't know they're homosexual. I could be sitting next to one on the bus, and not even know it," she shudders. "I wouldn't be able to give them an appropriate look, or explain to them that they were going to Hell."

    John Sampson of the Kato Institute agrees. "The conundrum, historically, for conservative groups is that gays are generally identical to other people. Except for a few of the more obvious exceptions, they dress the same, they talk the same, they like the same food. Even the really 'out there' ones, like the ones marching in Gay Pride parades in wigs and crossdressing and what-have-you — when they leave the parade and take off the costume, they typically look just like you or me. It's a very difficult problem."

    For a political movement that prides itself on being able to identify and isolate groups of "lesser" Americans, this invisibility has long been a concern. "The 'fear of other' is one of the founding principles of movement conservativism," notes Sampson. "We estimate we could expand bigotry initiatives by at least twenty percent if we could identify homosexuals more rapidly in everyday settings. But how do you do it, at a restaurant or in your office, when they're identical to normal people in every way? It makes it very difficult to be prejudiced against these other Americans, which is a nightmare for conservative and neoconservative groups. We have to make it easier."

    For a Republican Party rapidly running out of groups to be prejudiced against, identifying a new potential source of discrimination could also prove a fundraising windfall. One senior official within the Republican Party, speaking on condition of anonymity, says that the party is calculating that an increased fear of gayness in red states alone could bring an additional $350 million to Republican coffers this election year. "Laws now prohibit much of the discrimination that the modern conservative movement was founded to defend. If we don't find new individuals to focus on, we could be looking at a major decrease in Republican membership in the coming years."

    More on gay marriage
    First tribe legalizes gay marriage

    Related links
    Homosexuality isn't a choice
    Culture and Comics Need Multicultural Perspective 2000

    Readers respond
    "As Harry Browne said, 'gay marriage is none of our business.'"

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    Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.

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