Thursday, July 13, 2006

Too Many Words

I had A---- read the blog the other day. I still feel like I haven't found my voice. And she nailed it when she told me I'm using too many words, but not going deep enough. This is why I haven't sent it out to the world at large yet. I'll keep working on it...happy to hear comments from others as well.

Words sometimes seem to get in the way. Especially with a topic as emotional as this. LB commented on the lack of logic behind arguments against gay marriage, and I suspect she's right. But I keep searching for it. But then, so often when discrimination is involved, logic is based on emotional assumptions - like saying blacks have to ride in the back of the bus because they're inferior. Hard to refute if someone believes it to be true, but certainly most of us here in the United States understand that there is something inherently wrong in such racist concepts. Let me digress on this topic for a moment - because I think exploring racism a bit helps to understand some of the arguments against gay marriage, even if it's not necessarily directly comparable, as some black leaders argue.

Most of us harbor all sorts of biases, both acknowledged and unacknowledged (I wrote a bit about this before). The chances are pretty good that occasionally you rely on stereotypes, or lumping groups of people together because of the color of their skin or their religion or their political beliefs. If you're white, the chances are quite good that, even if you believe that the Civil Rights Movement was a good thing, you are still biased in some ways against blacks. Maybe you realize you're doing it. Maybe you don't. But the biases still exist, in subtle and less subtle ways. It's a painful thing to confront if you like to believe yourself not racist (how I flinch when I hear that preface - "I'm not a racist, but...") and you may be one of the rare few who manages to escape all the cultural bombardment that teaches us to look at the "other" with skewed vision (this isn't limited solely to whites - blacks, too, suffer from this kind of biased thinking against people of other races, and even other blacks, and the same issues exist for Asians and Latinos).

Take a look at that Psychology Today article and consider that the chances are good that the potential employers reviewing those applications likely don't consider themselves racist, either. They probably had perfectly good reasons, in their own minds, why they rejected the candidates with the black-sounding names. But the fact remains, fewer folks with "black" names got called back. I'd be curious to hear what percentage of Americans consider themselves racist - does anyone have information about this? Apparently over 1/3 of French describe themselves as racist, but I somehow doubt Americans would be so forthcoming.

Something similar happens when it comes to the question of gay marriage. Certainly there are still plenty of folks out there who are openly homophobic. This seems to change for many people if they're close to someone who comes out. But for many straight people who don't consider themselves homophobic, some line gets crossed in their mind when it comes to gay marriage. You can base your arguments on all sorts of logic about what defines marriage, why it exists. But underlying that logic is an emotional attachment to the idea that gays and lesbians are different - separate but equal perhaps.

How can I claim to be any better, since apparently even I hold onto some such notion. I'm torn between an emotional desire to marry my partner, and some emotional reaction to the idea that I deserve to marry her as much as straight people deserve to marry their beloveds. And something in my personality, as emotional and irrational a person as I am, needs to feel there is logical underpinning to the idea that gay marriage should or shouldn't be allowed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are writing beautifully about a complex topic, without sacrificing the subtleties. I say 'keep going'!

12:16 PM  

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