My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Gay Marriage

I have a couple friends who are gay and it has always seemed odd to me that they are… …well… …normal. Yep, they are just people who happen to have a different sexual preference then me. And after a while, it really doesn’t seem any weirder then having a different taste in ice cream or liking cats over dogs. It’s just a variable that doesn’t seem to positively or negatively impact my life in any way.

So when someone seems overly upset about “the gays” I’m always a bit confused. Do they:

A) Think that gay people are personally out to destroy their individual marriages?

B) Just grossed out about thinking of two guys having sex (Few people seem to disapprove of two women together, as long as their hot)?

C) Actually angry about something bigger that I just wasn’t grasping?

I had originally added a D) They do not know any gay people. But then I realized that everyone knows someone who is gay.

With some research and thinking, I came up with the following:

Since our inception as a country we have been in a constant state of flux between what we now refer to as conservative and liberal directions. Both the conservative and liberal paths come from the differences in moral development and experiences that individuals travel through in their life. Cultural policy changes are generally based on shifting morals.

Jean Piaget (2006) tells us that “all morality consists in a system of rules, and the essence of all morality is to be sought for in the respect which the individual acquires for those rules”. On an individual level, rule acquiring starts a young age and develops from the parenting model out. There are two distinct parental models that most children are raised with that help them develop how they see the world and work in conjunction with any life experiences that they are exposed to. These two parental models are universal in their usage and produce individuals who, even though they can be culturally and geographically different, are split into two distinct groups that share the same basic beliefs to how the world moralistically operates.

The first of these two groups is the strict father model, wherein there is a set of assumptions that believe that the “world is a dangerous place, and always will be, because there is evil out there in the world. The world is also difficult because it is competitive. There will always be winners and losers. There is an absolute right and an absolute wrong. Children are born bad, in the sense that they just want to do what feels good, not what is right. Therefore, they have to be made good” (Lakoff 2004).

The model goes on to describe how a strong and strict father is needed as a guide to “protect the family in the dangerous world, support the family in the difficult world, and teach the children right from wrong”. This strict and physical discipline teaches the individual how to behave if they do not want to be punished by the world. It also teaches an Adam Smith Invisible Hand of morality, wherein, everyone will pursue their own self-interest to an end equally beneficial to all who are have the personal responsibility and follow that same self-interest. This model leads to the underlying belief that those who are good moral people are disciplined and self-reliant. Bad people are those who are immoral because they are dependent on others.

This strict father model of raising children leads to adults who believe it is immoral to give to those who have not helped themselves. They also believe that it is the right thing to do when the government rewards those who have pursued their own self-interest and punish those who have not. The political result of this is a conservative base that sees very little positive in almost all social programs and believes that they are the moral authority. This leads towards national and international policy based on the same strict father model and policy that sees it moral to punish and reward based on an individuals ability to remain self-reliant and disciplined enough to be successful on their own. It also has the tendency to see the world in that original “good” and “bad” mentality and treat all who are not the moral authorities as their children in need of guidance.

The antithesis to the strict father model is the nurturing model of parenting. This gender neutral model assumed that “both parents are equally responsible for raising the children. The assumption is that children are born good and can be made better. The world can be made a better place, and our job is to work on that. The parents’ job is to nurture their children and to raise their children to be nurturing of others” (Lakoff 2003). This parenting model relies on empathy and responsibility. It is the parents’ responsibility to be morally responsibly, protect, and provide nurturing values (freedom, opportunity, fairness, communication, and honesty) all while remaining strong so that they continue to be productive in their society. This nurturing parent model leads to different distinct variations of personal responsibility, but all have a supporting role in the wellbeing of all. Social program, international aid, and safety nets are the policy themes of this model. Both models have a fair share of individuals who, for different reasons, will eventually gravitate towards the other side.

So the historically conservative issue with gay marriage arises because of the simple fact that same sex-marriages go in the opposite direction as the strict father model of the family. A marriage between two lesbians does not have a father, and a marriage between two men consists of a partnership of men who are deemed feminine and less man-like. Since defending and expanding the strict father model is the absolute highest moral value for conservatives, same-sex marriage constitutes an attack on the conservative value system as a whole, and on those whose very identity depends on their having strict father values.

They are not fighting to keep gays from marrying because they think the individuals are personally attacking their marriage; they are fighting because it undercuts everything that they believe by showing them that other ways work just as well as their own. And that is more dangerous to them then anything else.

Lakoff, G. (2003). Don’t Think of an Elephant. White River Jct., VT: Chelesa Green Publishing.

Piaget, J. (2006). The Moral Judgment of the Child. NYL: Free Press.


Amy said...

I think it has something to do with gay people being happy. That's my theory, anyway. I think that people who are in unhappy traditional marriages are threatened by happy gay people (and by the "old" definition of "gay" I am being redundant) in relationships.

I don't know if that makes any sense or not, but it's my two cents.

Puleez!WillYouGetOff'Ere! said...

This one has confused me. If you're brought up to believe fundamental religion, but have then as an adult rejected it, some of it stays with you even though you don't want it to, if you know what I mean.

So, on the one hand you've got "its a sin", and on the other its, "don't be so stupid, thats yer brainwashing when a child and its to do with religion".

THEN its... "its a sin", but then again..."judge not that ye be not judged".

Bias, discrimination, prejucide, whatever its called seems (to me) to be down to religion, ie "its bad" but religion is man made (whether there's a God or not, RELIGION is man made?) and has some well weird contradictions in its ethics?

But... I'm confused by it all anyway.