Joho the Blog » Are we Sodom?

Are we Sodom?

Bob Herbert’s column today in the NY Times — “Bliss and Bigotry” — made me cry. It’s a good column, but it did not provoke my sadness and anger so much as allow it. I keep surprising myself with how much the issue of gay marriage means to me. Every day I find it means more.

When I was a young a-hole in the ’70s, my line of grad school patter said that homosexuality is an inferior form of love because the sex carries no risk. (Yeah, those were the days.) Homosexuals sex acts lack the existential possibility of creating new life, I’d maintain, affecting my best Norman Mailer-esque pose. This gave me sufficient cover for my homophobia even with my gay friends. But, as I became an older a-hole and saw those friends form relationships as loving as the best of my straight friends, I stopped spouting that particular form of stupidity. I shut up, and was a better person for it. Funny how often that works.

I thought my patter was cocktail-party interesting, but it was just a spin on the mainstream bigotry that pinned itself on the “promiscuity” of “the gay life style.” No commitment. No love. Just sex sex sex.

So, now we have gay couples standing in line to foreswear promiscuity, to embrace commitment and love. But it turns out that it’s not just their way of having sex that’s unacceptable to us. Even their love isn’t good enough.

Well, God damn a country that turns away love, that would diminish love, that would deny love. What purer gift could we be offered?

Aren’t we commiting the very sin that brought God to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? It sure wasn’t because their citizens were just too deeply in love with one another.

History may give Bush a pass for his doctrine of preemptive war, because the country was traumatized by 9/11. It may chuckle ruefully at the brazenness of his oligarchical partisanship. But I do not think history will forgive George W. Bush’s attempt to turn our Constitution against the love our children have for one another.

And if history will, I won’t.


It’s a shame that John Kerry is once again taking a position that’s politically convenient. We could use a leader right now.

[Cross posted at Loose Democracy]

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22 Responses to “Are we Sodom?”

  1. This issue encapsulates all that I hate about John Kerry. What the hell does “I don’t support gay marriage but I support civil unions” really mean? And how can he be so craven as to say “I think we should leave this up to the states”? But maybe Kerry would leave miscegenation laws or slavery up to the states as well.

  2. Kerry’s position is worse than that, IMO: We should leave it to the states and MA ought to pass a constitutional amendment banning it.

  3. Move to Canada guys :)

  4. Don’t the people that oppose gay marriage know anyone who is gay or lesbian? I have so many gay and lesbian close friends and even family, whom I love so dearly. A lesbian friend, who is an ordained minister, performed my daughter’s wedding ceremony. How could I deny her (the minister)that same privalege? I don’t see how gay marriage threatens my straight marriage and I am on my third one! There is a lot of crap that goes with a marriage, as much as there is joy. Why shouldn’t gays get to experience the full effects of marriage too. All this talk about marriage being sacred – since when? Marriage isn’t sacred because it’s blessed by the church, or because it’s between a man and a woman or because it’s your first one – it’s only sacred if the two involved treat it so.
    I can’t believe the wedding industry isn’t promoting gay marriage in a big way – think what it would mean to them if it was universal!
    This ammendment will never be ratified even if it passes congress. I think it will weaken Bush in the long run so that is a good thing.

  5. “Don’t the people that oppose gay marriage know anyone who is gay or lesbian?”

    Uhhh… Yeah. See my posts at Scoble’s.

    I used to be in favor of gay marriage, growing up in Columbus, Ohio (1st or 2nd largest gay population in America, from what I’ve heard.)

    “All this talk about marriage being sacred – since when?” “I don’t see how gay marriage threatens my straight marriage and I am on my third one!”

    Being recently divorced, when I thought that would never be possible, I would say there are a LOTta things that threaten the institution. I agree it’s what the two make of it, to a large extent, but do you know anybody real well, personally, who is against gay marriage???

    And I ask, yet again, where DOES society draw the line and why?? What about bigamy, and under-18-year-olds requiring parental approval for marriage (afaik)?? I would like to see some discussion of this, before I make up my mind about this gay marriage issue.

    So, Dr. W, when are you getting divorced and getting a civil union, if you feel THAT strongly??

  6. Wisdom.

    And as for moving to Canada … shouldn’t that be guys AND gals ? ;-)

  7. Great posting, David. Thoughtful and touching.

    But the jab at Kerry seems out of place. Unless I’m mistaken, isn’t this the same exact position that Howard Dean took, and continues to take?

  8. Thank you for a nice post.
    Sure, it´s the same position as Dean, but it´s not out of place.

  9. If I’m not mistaken, a heck of a lot of people have been voting for Kerry just because he takes such stands. They’re supposed to make him “electable.” I sure hope they do, because I caucused for him myself, even though I was drawn to Kucinich and Mosely Braun. There’s a lot I don’t like about Kerry. But there are things I like about him as well, and most importantly, he would be an improvement over the present incumbent.

  10. JayT: look, there are lots of places to “draw the line.” A sensible one would be any two consenting adults can marry if they wish. One or both not consenting adults? Then, sorry, no marriage. Work for you? Suggesting that gay marriage inevitably leads to bigamy and child molestation and sex with animals is ludicrous and disingenuous. That’s like saying my ability to license and own a shotgun inevitably leads to kids buying rocket launchers and land mines at the toy store. A “line” should only be drawn where the state’s interest supercede the interests of the individual. The state has no interest in preventing Adam and Steve from marrying, just like it has no interest in preventing them from living together or having sex with each another. None at all. Preserving a religious or traditional worldview doesn’t count as a compelling interest on the part of the government.

    David: John Kerry is a professional politician and he undoubtedly sometimes takes stands for reasons of political survival. And I think we need to recognize that outright support for gay marriage is an unelectable position in this 2004 presidential race. It’s just not anywhere near the center of the American electorate. They see the slightly liberal position as being civil unions. Marriage is right off the scale. Today. Our choice is between the guy pulling left and the guy pulling right; between the guy who wants to amend the constitution and the guy who doesn’t. Simple as that. It’s not a perfect world. As sad as it is that the Democratic nominee will not support us on this issue, I think we liberals should reserve the greater part of our outrage for Our Fellow Amercans who simply would not vote for any candidate who did champion this worthy cause.

  11. Wouldn’t mind moving to Canada, but am quite comfortable here in Boston. Can I take the rest Massachusetts with me? We have more in common with Canada than we do with Alabama.

  12. I understand Kerry and the rest of the boys (including Howie) saying No to same sex marriage and Yes to civil unions. But Kerry’s gone further than that: He told the Boston Globe yesterday that he favors Massachusetts amending its constitution to forbid gay marriage.

    I wish he had instead said something perhaps like, “Look, I disagree with the Court and am personally against same sex marriages, but I’m not willing to alter the constitution of our proud Commonwealth, the cradle of liberty [or was that Philadelphia? or the Fertile Crescent?], so that for the first time we cut back on civil rights.” Something like that.

  13. My wife and I would like to volunteer to re-define our Commonwealth of Massachusetts “marriage” license as a “civil union” license. The point? Treat everyone equally.

    To the extent that couples privately characterize this civil act as “marriage,” fine.

    Now, can we have some champagne and re-register with Williams-Sonoma?

  14. I’m sure I’m just about to reveal my complete ignorance and general naivety here, but I have to ask the question that has been bugging me.

    Wouldn’t changing the constitution in this particular respect be unconstitutional? Is that possible?

    It’s the First Amendment bit: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”

    I know there’s a distinction and separation between the civil and religious unions. So maybe, just maybe the chimp gets to dick with the civil part.

    But isn’t the religious element completely untouchble? You have a secular government – they cannot invade matters of the church.

    This all falls apart as soon as I realise that many gay couples might not want a church wedding.

    I’m thinking in ever-decreasing circles here and getting trapped in my own poorly-articulated, incomplete syllogism, but googling on the 1st and 14th amendments throws up some better reasoned arguments.

  15. some people are just ignorant – and bush is one of them.

    I believe this country is getting dumber as a whole.

  16. And if you don’t want to move to Canada, you might consider the Netherlands.
    Marriage has been open to same sex couples since the spring of 2001. Before that civil union was possible, which included most of the same rights and (tax-)benefits as marriage, except for adoption as a couple (adoption as an individual was possible but than the partner had no formal role in the adoption). Now there’s just marriage.

  17. The problem with living in a country that was founded by people who wanted to practice a certain sect of a particular religion is that you fundamentally end up with a theocracy. Whether it is a Muslim, Jewish or Christian theocracy is not the point; one is not inherently better or worse than another. The degree to which the modern version of the country has adopted secular practices is also not germane. The fact is, that the religious underpinnings of the national psyche will always come to the fore as the driving dynamic in public policy.

    In the United States, believing that we mere mortals would understand the “mind of God” in such issues as abortion, stem cell research, gun control (a “God-given right” according to some) and now gay marriage is the height of arrogance, and yes, blasphemy. Basing public policy on the tenets of any particular religion abrogates the intended “right” of freedom of religion, and the much vaunted “separation of Church and State.”

    One of Canada’s greatest Prime Ministers, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, once said, “Government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation,” referring to what transpires between consenting adults. When such God-fearing lawmakers (and let’s not forget about famous bible-thumpers like Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker) indulge in pre/extra-marital activities, when the divorce rate skyrockets, when spousal abuse runs rampant and support systems provide inadequate protection, marriage as an institution is indeed facing a tremendous threat as a cornerstone of society. Supporting “civil unions” among queer couples while decrying gay/lesbian marriages, demonstrates the type of hypocrisy not only undermines the credibility of politicians. It also makes hypocrisy acceptable in the context of “family values,” a lesson that itself undermines “family.”

    What is needed are more stable, loving families that can serve as role models for the community. Are there any studies that have looked at “family unit stability” statistics, comparing hetero- and homosexual couples? I would be willing to bet that, on a percentage basis, domestic situations involving homosexual couples would tend to be more stable, and longer lasting.

  18. “I would be willing to bet that, on a percentage basis, domestic situations involving homosexual couples would tend to be more stable, and longer lasting.”

    I think this could the basis for the homogamophobia. In general (as I willingly walk out on the limb), men and women find it easier to socialize with their own sex. (Wow, I never thought generalizing could be such fun. Thanks, Mark.)

    Then as America becomes the Queer Nation, once all the metrosexuals finally jump on the bandwagon, Joe Sixpack gets fed up with Frumpy Frau and the brats who won’t leave the nest, and finally sees his fishing buddy in a rosier (lavenderly?) light.

    -Dan Herzlich

  19. Dan, generalizing is fun, especially when you have logic on your side. For now, at least, homosexual couples have to work harder at keeping a relationship because of the social stigma still attached to it. They are under society’s microscope and thus have an additional motivation to “make it work.” The couples getting married now are the ones who have already been together for years and are committed – the very role models Mr. and Mrs. America and their valued families need today.

    Don’t worry, once homosexual couples are accepted and not given a second thought, let alone a special constitutional amendment, they will drift into the 50% divorce rate like all the fine, family-valued heterosexual couples.

  20. Joho on Gay Marriage

    Joho published a piece on gay marriage this morning.

  21. Perhaps it’s your “creative” redefinition of terms that’s preventing you from aprehending the simple truth. Homosexual acts are perverse. They are contrary to natural law. And most certainly are not acts of love.

    Love is not a trite emotion; love is an act of will.

    In the mean time I encourage you to read the URL I posted.

  22. Thanks, MoralPhile. But, since I’m a Jew, I am by the definition of that site a sinner. You should waste no further time on me.

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