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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Gay Rights

I wrote and posted an essay for my online Intro to Government and Politics class. I was asked to chose an important issue and argue for it. How do you think I did?

          I have been an LGBTQAA+ rights advocate since I was in the 7th grade. Discrimination against individuals who do not identify as cisgender or straight has always baffled and angered me, and it is an issue I hold very dear. I am a straight, cisgender ally of the Pride movement, and I am the former Vice-President, current Secretary of the GSA here at Northern Essex. The idea that traditional marriage, the union between a man and a woman, is the only “right” and “legal” way to be married makes me sick to my stomach. The three main arguments I have heard to only allow “traditional” marriage to be legal are: the biblical argument, the “what do I tell my children” argument, and the “traditional culture” argument.
            First, I will begin to deconstruct the biblical argument. A phrase I heard a lot in my home state of Virginia is “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” Problem number one: not everyone identifies as Christian and follows the Bible. There is no established official religion of the United States, no matter what the majority is. Restricting someone’s right to marry on the principal that it is against Christian tradition is completely unconstitutional. That is a form of religious discrimination. Thankfully, not every one of the Christian faith believes that marriage can only be between a man and a woman, and they agree that the bible is not to be interpreted literally and should be applied to the 21st century with the evolution of human culture and socialization in mind.
            The second argument I’ve heard a lot is the, “what do I tell my children” argument. Some parents wonder, “How can I explain this to my kids,” or, “what if my child ends up being gay?” Although I reject the idea that a child is a complete tabula rasa, I believe a balance of genetics and environment determines the personality of an individual, children are influenced by impressions and ideas, and they formulate their view of the world based on what they witness. So, if you raise your children to believe that marriage can and should only be between a man and a woman, they are likely to believe that, in many cases. In some cases, peers in middle and high school express opposing views and that can change the opinion of the child to be unlike that of the parents. Unfortunately, in many cases, that does not happen. Conversely, if a child is taught at a young age that marriage is a union between two people who love each other and want to share fiscal responsibilities regardless of race, gender, and sexuality, that child will learn and life will continue on. There will be one more tolerant, informed individual in society. And there’s nothing wrong with that. If your child is gay, they will be happier in the tolerant, accepting society that we should be working towards.
            The final argument I would like to tackle in this argument is the “traditional culture” argument. This is kind of a combination of the two arguments above. The typical statement of this argument is “traditional marriage is between a man and a woman. This should not be changed because it is a societal norm and children should be raised by a man and a woman so they are not deprived of anything in their childhood.” Firstly, no. Secondly, no. Traditional marriage is a construct of language, as all things are. It’s a product of perception, opinion, and close-mindedness. A lot of things that were once regarded as “traditional” are seen as wrong now. Women being homebodies and raising the kids, not being allowed to have careers, property, or vote was “traditional.” Sending one’s child off to work as soon as they were able-bodied (able to move and lift things) was “traditional.” Tradition is a matter of culture, yes, but it is also a matter of perception. As we are the “melting pot,” we should not compartmentalize and restrict. Secondly, children are not deprived because they are raised by a “non-traditional” family. If anything, they have an expanded viewpoint of the world and learn tolerance and acceptance. “Traditional” families can be, and are often, dysfunctional as well. The “traditional” argument is another irrational claim created by intolerant parties to oppress others.
           Obviously, I have some strong viewpoints regarding this issues. Feel free to ask me questions or send me doubts, and I will answer them in a polite and constructive way. I’m passionate, but I am not an irrational being. A final point I’d like to make, just because it’s not often I have the ability to share my views with others and have them read, is that sexuality and gender are not the same thing. Sexuality is who you are attracted to and want to mate with. Gender is what traits you identify with based on societies terminology of “masculine” and “feminine.” Gender and sexuality are not synonymous. I hope this essay is found to be constructive and accurate. Feel free to address any views or concerns to me, and I will respond promptly. If I got anything wrong, let me know, and I will fairly consider the opinion or information.

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