Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Love makes a family... and the human race, too

There is a presumption --even among heterosexual supporters of same-sex marriage-- that marriage has had but one exclusive definition that never evolved throughout history.

For some twenty thousand years or so, relationships among indigenous peoples in California did not require a license from the county clerk's office (nor did divorce). Some groups of peoples allowed for various forms of same-sex couples, others did not. It's the same basic history in Africa and much of the rest of the world. Until relatively recently, men and women weren't even allowed to marry who they wanted to; that was up to the tribal elders or parents. Actually, arranged marriages are still the rule for several billion human beings worldwide today.

If anything, this notion of societal recognized relationships consisting of state-sanctioned marriage between one man and one woman is quite a recent development in human history.

There wouldn't even be an Anglican Church if the Pope would've granted Henry VIII the right to divorce he wanted --and a few women could have kept their heads. Slaves in America weren't allowed to marry in some states, nor freedmen and slaves in others; until the 1967 Supreme Court ruling on miscegenation there was a patchwork quilt of state laws as to who could marry who. And don't get me started on cousins. It is still illegal in some communities for any unmarried people to co-habitate: whether they be caregivers, friends or roommates just splitting the rent. It was not so long ago that the Nazis (and the Americans) would put couples of different religions or races into concentration camps, irrespective of whether they were opposite sex or same-sex couples.

One could even argue that the world has pretty much started to slide to ruin since people codified the only recognized relationships as those sanctioned by the state between one man and one woman.

In the LA Times on Friday, after the historic California Supreme Court ruling, acting LA County Registrar-Recorder Dean C. Logan stated that plans were underway to accommodate county employees uncomfortable with officiating same-sex marriages. There might be a conflict with non-discrimination statutes there. Even if not covered specifically, it opens a nasty bucket of worms. with many of the world's organized religions not recognizing each other, as well as those who still harbor antipathy for people of certain races, ethnicities nationalities body size-- this could cause chaos in government if civil service workers could chose who they would or or wouldn't assist. Would county lifeguards let people drown? Would the fire department respond only to the fires they desired?

What of those not in any kind of committed relationship? Over a thousand statutes favor state-recognized marriages while penalizing single persons --not just at tax time, either. A married person who survives their spouse gets screwed over, too. ln some cultures, the wife is obligated to be thrown onto her husband's funeral pyre. This is the established custom for more people than live in all of Europe --scarcely a radical fringe.

Nobody wins by continuing to maintain a prime meridian oriented on the one-man-one-woman nuclear family axis, even if we ourselves are pledged (or resigned to) not follow it. Even the staunchest, shrillest proponents of this conviction as the fundamental keystone upon which civilization is built, or worship as some golden calf at the heart of all humankind, fail to account for all of the insurmountable evidence that disproves their dogma. They themselves have shown --despite their recent claims to the contrary-- that they themselves aren't as devoted heart and soul to this myopic construct. After all this time, no society has succeeded at permanently stamping out the "world's oldest profession," have they?

Everyone belongs to the human race, all people in all the relationships that we live our lives, whether we live them as we would have it by design or by default. We all contribute and draw from the whole. Every breath of every human helps provide the oxygen which sustains life --even those full of hot air.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I met your folks yesterday, and I'll be scheduled for a few hours each week, (on Tuesdays and Thursdays,) to help out with your dad. I am guessing that your parents are proud to have such a thoughtful and articulate son. I am looking forward to meeting you in the future.

Best to you always,

Lee Brazil