Sorry I couldn't come up with a snappier title. I always try to come up with a title that elucidates and draws the reader's attention. It's something I learned in a journalism class I took in Henry Snyder High School in Jersey City years ago. My teacher, Mr. Benign Mastronardi, must be rolling in his grave right now. But as always, I digress. I wanted a snappy title for this little op-ed piece on the fight going on for the right of homosexuals to get married.
When I first heard about the controversy, my reaction was: the dictionary definition of marriage includes the notion of a union between persons of opposite sex. Therefore, ipso facto, there cannot be any such thing as homosexual marriage. Doesn't make sense.
But then I thought about it a bit, and it seemed to me that society changes. Cultures change. And, yes, words and their definitions change. A few years back, this is how The New York Times reported a news item:
December 16, 1973
The American Psychiatric Association, altering a position it has held for nearly a century, decided today that homosexuality is not a mental disorder.
With that decision, the APA challenged the notion that homosexuality is wrong, off-kilter, and just plain "bad for ya," as George Carlin would say.
A little bit more on how words change. The New Jersey Department of Labor years ago referred to people looking for employment through the Employment Service as "applicants," or "clients." Then one day we were told that these people were now to be called "customers." Now, I always thought that customers were people who bought things in a store, or bought vacuum cleaners when sales people came knocking on their door. But in time I saw that the object was to get ES employees to treat people with respect and courtesy, as we would if they were buying our services. Which, I guess you might say, they are. So the definition of the word "customer" changed.
A few years back, when liberal talk radio was in its heyday, Al Franken had a great program. He talked about gay marriage, and how when he first heard about it, he thought that meant he might have to leave his wife and marry a man if gay marriage were made legal. When he found out that such was not the case, he wondered what the big hoo-hah was all about.
So here we are, still talking about it. And what it boils down to is this: if you have a religious objection to gay marriage, that is your right. If you have a religious or other objection to a woman's right to have an abortion, that too is your right. But we live in a pluralistic society, in which lots of people who believe in god, and lots of people who don't believe in god at all disagree with you. They don't feel that you have a right to impose your religious beliefs on everyone else. This country is not yet a theocracy, in spite of all the Rick Santorums who would like to have it so.
We're still a country of law. We're still a people unwilling to allow goverrnment come into our bedrooms, to tell us what consenting adults can or can't do. Or come into the doctor's office to tell the doctor what is or is not permissible in the treatment of a patient. We're still a people who love freedom. We're still a people who want this land not to go backward, but to go forward. Isn't that how you feel?
Today's Times has a thought-provoking editorial. One more reason I'm glad I don't live anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/30/opinion/bigotry-on-the-ballot.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss