Thursday, October 26, 2006

Piddle and twiddle: watch those Republicans choke on gay marriage


Okay, the ante is up, as social conservatives think they have their ammunition handed to them by “activist judges,” the latest from the New Jersey State Supreme Court. (No matter the activism of our own Supreme Court in Bush v Gore and the 2000 presidential election).

So the eight state constitutional amendment referendums (the most notorious being the Marshall-Newman in Virginia) might actually get an unwelcome push from “conservative” voters.

But what, really, does the “normal married person” want out of this? A young man who is now a prosecuting attorney in the Midwest told me, “something to feel superior about.” Think about it. If the rest of your life, especially career and work, doesn’t go that well, the social approbation of your marriage gets pretty important. You feel that society has ratified you as a grown-up person with full rights once you’re married with your own kids. You have proven psychosexual maturity. The social support is integrated into your marital experience. It helps provide the social safety net for relatives and kin. If push comes to shove, you have the right to demand a tribute from a freer but less “mature” person who never took the dive. After all, the immature man wanted access to sexuality for free, without openness to new life, blindfolded socialization, or filial responsibility.

Turn this around, though. You go to gay discos like Cobalt or Apex in Washington (or the Velvet Nation, that got overrun by the baseball Washington Nationals) or say the Saloon or the Gay 90s in Minneapolis, and see the ritual celebration on the dance floor, the love trains, and you see this is a kind of public expression of what (or who) is perfect, or what (or who) deserves emotion. It’s meant to have an effect on things. Nothing is that private any more. It helps to reach one’s biological solstice and enter a time machine so that you can remain perfect forever. Note that there is a movie “Children of Men” coming. There was even a Smallville episode based on this idea. There is another lesson in this: the celebrant on the dance floor is saying that he makes emotional connections to other people on his own terms only. That sounds like his libertarian right (no pun), but that puts a lot of other people into a losing position.

So both sides of psychological divide want to feel superior in some way.

Then you look at the Foley scandal again, that a couple weeks ago seemed to deep-six the Republicans (including Log Cabin). They seem to deserve it, for their pretense of hiding under their own “don’t ask don’t tell.”

Fred Berlin of the National Institute for the Study and Prevention of Sexual Trauma drew a ring around the whole problem that deals not only with the minors issue, but with the difficulty in keeping marriages together, when he suggested that people who “show no interest in people their own age” are disordered. That kind of hits the nail on the head. Maturity is supposed to merge the need of others with emotional interest. Maybe failure to do that is a reason to look at someone as immature and less “equal” (sic). But conservatives want to equate this with being able to form and stay in a heterosexual marriage and raise one’s own children.

I was criticized, when a substitute teacher, for being unwilling to enforce discipline with certain kinds of disadvantaged students. I ask, why should they respect me when they “sense” that I am not the equal of other men, even in the eyes of the law. Or is this just a matter of disorder and emotional immaturity?

Piddle. Twiddle. And resolve.

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