Friday, June 4, 2010

A Fight for Gay Rights

Today I attended a debate at the Oxford Union entitled "This House believes that the Gay Rights Movement has undermined family values." On the side of the Proposition were Stephen Green, a Christian fundamentalist, Michael Lucas, a Moscow born gay porn star and director, and a student. On the side of the Opposition were Peter Tatchell, a high profile human rights activist, Sue Sanders, a lesbian and co-chair of 'Schools Out', and a gay former student. The debate was quite intriguing for the speakers made several points in the debate worth noting, with the exception of any of Stephen Green's statements.

The student on the Proposition surprised me, for I was expecting a clear cut Stephen Green vs. human rights debate, but instead he and later Lucas offered an intriguing perspective on this debate. They said yes, indeed the Gay Rights Movement is undermining family values, but those family values need to be undermined. They discussed the bad family values that have come from a history of oppression. The nuclear family lay at the centre of it all: the father, mother, 2.4 children and that beloved dog where everyone was fulfilling their designated roles as depicted by the Bible. And yes, gay marriage does undermine this small-minded view of a marriage and family. If this is all that a family is then single-parent units, adopted parent units, etc. are not in a true sense families. And I am truly glad that the Gay Rights Movement is undermining this narrow, constricting view of family values.

However, if you are applying a different perspective on family values then the debate is completely different. Let's now think. What is a family? Yes, it contains two or more people, but is that what it really is? Isn't the whole idea of family based upon the spirit of it, the love, the unity, the self-sacrifice, the inclusivity? And that can be found in any family whether it be straight, gay, single-parent, adopted, anything. The tradition of marriage and family values are not corrupted by a collective group, but instead by individuals. Anyone, gay, straight, transgender, whatever can cheat or be abusive to their families and undercut the spirit of family life, just as anyone can strengthen it through love and compassion. So with this newer, more modern definition of a family the Gay Rights Movement definitely does not undermine family values.

This latter view is the one I hold to be true. Sure, I believe that the gay marriage undermines the old family values, but times have changed and so have family values. They have become more subjective and to this the movement only adds a further dimension to the inclusiveness felt in families. In a modern context the Gay Rights Movement only enhances family values rather than detracts from them.

Additionally, Tatchell brought up a good point, what are straight people afraid of anyways? Do those that fight against the rights of gay marriage fear that it will detract from their own marriage? Do they fear that it will make their marriage seem less legitimate? Don't they just realize that these are stupid fears? For as Tatchell said, it's not like there is some giant rights equation where if one group gets more rights then rights will be subtracted from another. All the movement is calling for is equality on all levels. Homophobia does not legitimate civil legislation against a certain group just as negrophobia does not legitimate civil legislation against black people. You cannot allow your own subjective view impose itself on the rights of others. Every man, woman and child was born to have equal rights and it is not within your power to judge who is fit or not. If you believe in god, then leave it to him. This also means that gays should have the rights not to just civil unions but to full fledged marriage in court, just as straight couples do. For remember, separate does not mean equal. Britain has the civil union law in place, but according to the London Times 61% of the populace believe that homosexuals should have full rights to marriage. Furthermore, it is now considered political suicide in Britain to fight against gay rights. I found this information incredibly inspiring and I hope it can spread back to America.

That is my tangent on gay rights. I have much more to say and I feel incredibly passionate about the subject. However, right now I am tired of typing due to writing a 10 page essay on The Chronicles of Narnia, so do forgive my short discussion. If you ever feel the urge to talk with me about this, feel free.

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