The Illinois Senate held committee hearings today on a bill granting marriage equality, and it’s expected to go to the full chamber either Thursday or Friday. Advocates in both houses think they have enough votes to pass it, and the governor is ready to sign it. If Rhode Island doesn’t beat us to it, Illinois will become the tenth state to legalize same-sex marriage.
Religious conservatives are desperate. Chicago’s Catholic archbishop decided to start the new year with a “pastoral letter” urging parishioners to oppose it. His claim is that it violates natural law – an argument the pious have resorted to since their scriptural arguments have run afoul of the 1st Amendment’s guarantee of separation between church and state.
I won’t even waste time on the religious arguments against homosexuality. I’m an atheist; religious scriptures and teachings mean nothing to me. And they have no place in secular government.
As for the argument that homosexuality violates natural law, most reputable scientists already agree that it’s genetic – and, thus, natural. If it were environmental, then why isn’t my twin brother gay? Why aren’t my other two brothers gay? Why aren’t any of my sisters lesbians? We all grew up in the same environment. I had two gay uncles (past tense, both deceased now), and there’s at least one lesbian (that I know of) in the extended family. Seems genetic to me.
Pious opponents of same-sex marriage also like to argue that marriage is about procreation. That simply doesn’t hold water. I know many heterosexual couples who have chosen not to have children. Why should they be allowed to marry? Why should women who have gone through menopause be allowed to marry? They can’t have children, so marriage has no procreative function for them.
The animal kingdom is replete with examples of males and females mating for the purposes of procreation, but only a tiny percentage of species mate for life. In fact, the male often has nothing to do with his offspring, and will move on to the next female who will let him fuck her. They don’t think about marriage, and it seems perfectly natural to them.
The animal kingdom also has many examples of same-sex relationships. In fact, it’s been observed and well-documented in hundreds of species. Unlike humans, though, they haven’t created a god who forbids it, and they certainly don’t feel shame about it.
Marriage is a concept, not a natural law. It’s an institution created by humans, not nature. It existed long before the ancient origins of modern theism. Primitive tribes with no concept of a deity equivalent to Western religions have marriage rites. And many couples who have children have no interest in marrying. Marriage is not required for procreation; this “natural law” argument has even less merit than the scriptural arguments.
It’s time for the far right to stop trying to legislate morality. And it’s time for the rest of us to stop taking lessons in marriage from: a) Christians who have failed at marriage; b) Muslims who treat their wives as property; and c) old, white pedophiles who aren’t even allowed to have sex hiding their perpetual erections behind flowing, white robes. None of them has the credibility to lecture anyone else on morality and “natural law.”