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On the Subject of Gay Rights

I'm away on holiday and so am I little late responding to this call to arms. And I think this discussion should more properly occur under my marilynhay LJ, so will cross post it there when I get a chance.

Cut for soapbox

For the record, I'm Canadian and this influences my views, I suppose. I'm also heterosexual by orientation, but this does not influence my views, which are simply that people can cohabit with whomever they choose and it's none of my business other than to wish them well in their lives together.

A generation ago, one of our Prime Ministers (equivalent to the US President role), Pierre Elliott Trudeau, said very categorically that the nation has no place in the bedrooms of consenting adults, and Canada appears to agree with him. Over the years since, we enshrined sexual orientation in our Charter of Rights, making it illegal to discriminate on such grounds. Nearly twenty years ago, we removed all contraventions against homosexuals serving in our armed forces. More than ten years ago, we officially granted spousal rights, privileges and benefits to same gender couples. Same gender couples can marry in Canada, either in civil or church ceremonies. Recently, a gay RCMP couple married, and they serve in the same detachment so, as a couple, they can continue to work together to uphold the law in their sector of responsibility.

From a personal perspective, over thirty years ago, I was working as a nurse in a twenty-four hour, seven days a week crisis clinic. One night, a woman was brought in after an overdose, along with her female lover and several friends of the same sexual orientation. After settling her for the night and calming the others, I recommended marital counselling. This was unheard of at the time, marital counselling for a lesbian couple, but I was surprised that everyone else seemed so surprised by my recommendation. It only made sense in my view as their problems were marital in nature. The other therapists agreed with me and, since then, that clinic has been offering marital counselling to same gender couples. Later, while a senior public service executive, it was my responsibility and privilege to sign off the first 'ruling' and direction to departments as the 'employer' to grant spousal privileges to same gender couples and this was the first legal ruling in Canada that eventually led to the granting of wider benefits. (Not to say I didn't take some flack from conservative members of parliament, but the media was fully supportive, the courts needed the ruling as we were in contravention of our own laws, and life moved on.)

The current hysteria over same gender relationships in some parts of the world are, in my view, hypocritical. Yes, I know the Bible says it's wrong. The Bible also says we should smite neighbours who offend us, pluck out our own eyes if they offend us, has laws specifically against adultery and eating pork, and turned a woman into a pillar of salt for daring to look back upon the destruction of the only home she had known. We don't smite our neighbours, few of us pluck out our own eyes, many of us eat pork, adultery is rampant and accepted as a cause for divorce (in contravention of beliefs that marriage is supposed to be unto death), and we even find ways to mitigate murder despite the stricture not to kill. Oh, and this same Bible has men sleeping with their daughters -- not a practice that many of us condone. My point is only that the Bible cannot be seen as a single and sole arbiter on this matter, not when we so flagrantly disregard so much else in it, including the strictures to turn the other cheek, and judge not lest ye be judged. So, let's not blame the Bible for our current social malice against same gender couples.

Nor can we claim such relationships are 'unnatural'. There is nothing so 'natural' as the animal kingdom and same gender sexuality exists in every species, and some even change genders depending upon nature's whim. I've recently been visiting a home with dogs in heat and these two females are going at it constantly, humping day and night. Further, scientifically, there is considerable evidence that sexual orientation is determined in utero, so people really are born with a sense of attraction or preference for one gender over another -- it's physical, natural, not some 'perverted' choice by 'social misfits'. Abusing gays and insisting they could be 'normal' if they set their mind to it is like beating a left handed child with a ruler to make them use their right hand, a practice we gave up as barbaric and essentially useless as well as abusive over a generation ago.

Nor can we claim some historical grounding against homosexuality. Indeed, the two ancient cultures we draw most heavily upon in our own were beyond tolerant of same gender relationships. The Greeks, who gave us the concept of democracy, cherished sword brother relationships far above the mundane relationships between men and women, which were really scarcely tolerated and only for the purpose of procreation. The Romans celebrated same sex relationships as a matter of choice and pleasure.

In my view, the plain truth of the matter is the current hysteria against same sex relationships is all about control -- mostly, but not exclusively, men trying to control how other men and women want to live their lives. The ultra fundamentalist 'Christian' approach is simply the opposite side of the same coin that has Bin Laden's face on the other side. The coin is about intolerance. About persecuting anyone who is different and dares to hold divergent views and beliefs from one's own. I've recently heard that in a number of US states, men are dressing up and taking their begowned seven year old, certainly prepubescent daughters to 'purity balls', at which they solemnly vow to safeguard their daughters' chastity until they marry. Now, that gives me pause. Take your female child to a dance as if you were a couple, swear publicly to uphold her virginity (when the poor kid may not yet even know what is being discussed), and take away that daughter's right to make her own decisions when she's old enough to do so. Anyone needing this kind of control over their progeny clearly has control issues. These are the same folks who decry same gender relationships. Sorry but from my perspective, they don't seem quite sane to begin with. But it's a free country, supposedly, so these balls are legal however emotionally destructive they may be for those girls.

Again, from my perspective, for what it's worth, we don't have enough love in the world as it is, to then go around and condemn what's there. Love, real, true, love is a gift of the universe, something to be cherished above all else in life, something to be celebrated as beauty in its most moving manifestation. There is something fundamentally wrong when we can watch the evening news while eating dinner and not blink when we see children blown up in war zones, and then pack in an evening's entertainment of ever increasingly graphic violence, but are offended by the idea, let alone the sight, of two people of the same gender loving one another.

I am a strong advocate of same gender relationship rights and it's long past time we collectively got out of one another's bedrooms. As Trudeau so pithily said, we have no business there in the first place. And for those who prefer to be guided by Jesus, remember he blessed the peacemakers and the merciful, and strongly cautioned us against judging one another or casting stones. I very much doubt He'd appreciate the ugliness of unbridled hatred that goes on in His name.

Comments

trislindsay
Oct. 7th, 2006 05:09 am (UTC)
This is Nansi, horning in from Annie's LJ.

I really love what you've written here, I just wish more people felt the same way. We've become especially polarized here in the US, with the current political situation, and if anything the climate seems to be getting less tolerant every day. I often feel as though I'm living in a Margaret Atwood novel.`
caarianna
Oct. 7th, 2006 05:48 am (UTC)
Nansi, from what I've read and heard recently, I think it is getting less tolerant there as the self righteous become more vocal and determined in their messaging.

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