New Pennsylvania bill demonizes homosexuality

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We see them on television, in movies, and even in magazines: pictures of polished and upstanding men and women who stand out for the simple fact that they are gay.

Society has come to love them — some of them at least. After all, where would we be without Will’s vivacious friend Jack?

But how many still feel comfortable when the attractive veneer is erased and the true humans are exposed? How can the homosexual individual, relegated to a figure of amusement by television and movie spectators, become a human being of substance and respect if society won’t allow him or her to perform certain vital human functions?

I recently came across a bill that was introduced by Pennsylvania legislators advocating the absolute protection of the foundations upon which marriage was built. The Pennsylvania Marriage Protection Amendment claims to sanctify the institution of traditional marriage, particularly by limiting its possible definitions.

Pennsylvania for Marriage, a fundamentalist group from Harrisburg, is responsible for introducing the bill into legislature. The group’s life goal is to make sure same-sex marriage is not recognized in Pennsylvania. Furthermore, they contest any possibility of a marriage equivalent, such as civil union.

I applaud any organization’s attempts to advocate what it believes is important. However, I cannot and will not willingly acknowledge this group’s attempts when the price is the degradation of others — all in the name of moral protection.

Are we destroying society by allowing individuals to make the ultimate commitment to each other? If that is the case, are we doing society a good deed by expecting members who are different in a particular way to live in the shadows, denied the privileges that a reasonable human would expect? These ideas should not take root in a society founded on democratic principles.

The organization contends that marriage, a fundamental building block of society, would be utterly destroyed if even an equivalent such as civil union were allowed. However, the group needs to do a lot of clarifying before this argument can be acknowledged.

The group tries to substantiate its argument with a statistic explaining that Norway’s marriage rate drastically plummeted after same-sex marriage was allowed. Carelessly, it ignores the fact that Norway did not institute same-sex marriage; it instituted civil union, a very different institution. Though marriage rates did fall, the fall was not drastic enough to directly attribute it to the institution of civil union in the country.

Not only does Pennsylvania for Marriage fail to draw a coherent corollary between the instatement of civil union in Norway and its drop in marriage rate, it blatantly disregards statistics of neighboring countries from the same years. The marriage rates in Sweden, the Netherlands, and Denmark, countries that surround Norway, increased once same-sex marriage or civil union was allowed.

I am shocked that any organization would blatantly disregard quantitative facts and try to back up its religious convictions with so many unsubstantiated claims.

And if Pennsylvania for Marriage did not make its fundamentalism clear enough, the group goes so far as to equate same-sex unions with polygamy and incest.

The group claims that if marriage laws were ambivalent enough to allow for same-sex marriage or civil union, employers then might find themselves having to give health care benefits to an employee’s six or seven wives.

This claim would be darkly comical if it weren’t an actual argument, and I can’t help but think back to a time when the same claims were made about interracial marriage. Marriage laws then weren’t even as well-defined as they are in most states today, yet did society see the proliferation of polygamy?

The real shame behind this organization is that it actually introduced a bill into legislature and substantiated its claims with the aforementioned arguments. They pleaded that same-sex marriage would have adverse effects on children, confusing them and introducing them to immorality at an early age.

Perhaps I am alone in having problems with such a bill. Maybe I’m just one of those poor destitute creatures who found his way to the right side of the tracks, currently praying for a Christian fundamentalist to show me the error of my ways!

As ludicrous as that sounds, what is even more ludicrous is that Pennsylvania for Marriage expects everyone to think that way. In essence, Pennsylvania for Marriage basically told everyone to “lock your doors, hide your children, and guard your window treatments! The Gays are coming!”

I used to have a great deal of respect for the institution of marriage. Coming from divorced parents, marriage was always a lofty goal for me. But with the current lobbying of organizations like Pennsylvania for Marriage, it seems to be trapped in an ivory tower.

Same-sex marriage would not destroy the traditional institution. Pennsylvania for Marriage already destroyed it. No longer is marriage regarded as the biggest commitment two loving people can make. It serves only as a dividing line between the haves and have-nots.

And just in case that doesn’t get my point across: We’re here and we’re queer, so get used to us. And help yourself to some wedding cake on your way out the door.