“A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.” – Mahatma Gandhi
The piece of scripture that is most commonly associated with the battle over same-sex marriage comes from Chapter 18 of the Book of Leviticus, which states “you shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination”1. This verse is just one part of much larger delineation of the laws of sexual morality which the Lord gave to Moses. Immediately proceeding his directive that dudes shall not sleep with other dudes are proclamations that men are forbidden from carnal knowledge of a woman, “as long as she is in her customary impurity” and that we should not allow, “any of [our] descendants pass through the fire to Molech”2. Clearly, God took great pains to stress the importance of avoiding the abomination of homosexuality by placing it after orders to not sleep with our women while they’re menstruating and to not set fire to our children in offering to a false idol3. However, despite the relative merits of Leviticus, I think that there is a better bible passage with regards to the issue of same-sex marriage.
In The Book of Romans, Paul writes that we, “owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law”4. Thus far, the debate surrounding same-sex marriage has been more about suppressing love than cultivating it. By any stretch of the imagination, the various acts that have been passed across America in defense of the traditional definition of marriage have fallen well short of fulfilling the law if we take Paul’s word that the law is upheld by unconditional love for one’s neighbor. On Tuesday, a number of states will vote on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, including my adopted home state of Maryland, where the marriage equality amendment is projected to pass. The outlook is a little different in the state of Minnesota, where residents are voting not on whether or not to legalize same-sex marriage, but whether or not to formally forbid it in an amendment to their state constitution.
While various groups and publications have taken their stance one way or another on the issue, the editorial board of The St. Paul Pioneer Press managed to make history by becoming it the first major newspaper in the country to give a non-endorsement endorsement for maintaining the traditional definition of marriage. It is a non-endorsement endorsement because the Pioneer Press’s editorial board claims to reside within the confines of neutral observation. A large part of this has to do with the fact that the editor of the Pioneer Press is also a member of the paper’s editorial board. Mike Burbach was named editor of the Pioneer Press in the summer of 2011, but neglected to relinquish his editorial board position, breaking one of the cardinal sins of journalism in the process. You see, since a newspaper’s coverage is supposed to be objective (or as close as human error allows), the editorial section of a paper is usually separated from it’s news reporting. This way, a newspaper’s editor can assure the public to some degree that their opinions haven’t bled into their straight news, creating a biased and unreliable product. In a bizarre move, Burbach decided that he needed to wear both hats and, instead of removing himself from the editorial board, declared that the Pioneer Press would stop making endorsements during general elections. Following his reasoning, the paper now has an editorial board that’s not allowed to editorialize.
Of course, just because you’re not technically endorsing a position one way or another doesn’t mean you can’t provided comically slanted opinions suggesting strongly (*wink*–*wink*) that one side is clearly better than the other. In their editorial on the proposed marriage amendment, the editorial board of the Pioneer Press warns that against Question 6 will lead to a pagan liberal dystopia in which principled conservatives are hunted down for their beliefs and are forced to be tolerant and accepting and bunch of other hippy-dippy shit. Members of the editorial board claim that, “for those who hold traditional beliefs about marriage, increasingly the force of law will be brought to bear on matters of education, speech and practice”5. Yes, my conservative brethren, beware the might and fury of a legal system not beholden to an amendment that stigmatize queers! Now, people who you’ve never met will get married in the church that you’ve never been to around people you don’t know. Oh the oppression! Never again will you be able to enjoy a nice afternoon stroll or a night out with the missus because you’ll know in the back of your mind that somewhere out in the great blue yonder there are two women in matching white tuxedos cutting a wedding cake.
As if it weren’t bad enough that good god-fearing folk are going to have to live in some Leninist police state where equality is enforced with reckless impunity, the traditional marriage folks even tried to compromise. The Pioneer Press editorial board contends that when it comes to marriage equality, “the debate isn’t exactly about equal rights and privileges.” I mean, after all, the LGBT crowd has made clear that they won’t settle for civil unions. They greedily lust after marriage when they should just be satisfied with the separate, but equal status that traditional marriage advocates are willing to give them. Or, as the board pithily put it, “a union by any other name is not as sweet.”
Well, I can sum up my feelings on such a sentiment with a line from earlier in the Romeo & Juliet balcony scene that the Pioneer Press just butchered: “she speaks, yet she says nothing: what of that?” It is fitting that the editorial board would choose to echo the words of the world’s most famous play concerning star-cross’d lovers while arguing for the negation of loving relationships. Earlier in their article, the board sloughs off what they refer to as the “love is love” argument, maintaining that a system that promotes the strengthening of marital laws at the expense of personal liberty and devotion is in the best interest of the general public. To this I can only say that, yes, love is love. And, as such, love is not beholden to any legislation or amendment. You cannot tax love or hold dominion over feelings that are not yours. Whether or not Question 6 is voted down in Minnesota, there is no winning for those who wish to deny their fellows the rights they themselves enjoy. An amendment won’t stop a couple from retaining that dear perfection which they owe one another without the titles of husband or wife. You are on the wrong side of history. When Paul said that he who loves another fulfills the law, he never specified what that love should look like and who it should go towards.
1Levitcus 18:22, The Holy Bible, New King James Version
2Leviticus 18:19-21, Ibid.
3According to Clarke’s Commentary on The Bible, it is thought that the meaning of the use of “passing through the fire to Molech” is as a reference to either the sacrificing of children as a burnt offering to an ancient Ammonite god or the setting fire of human semen as an offering to said god. That’s right people: flaming semen. http://clarke.biblecommenter.com/leviticus/18.htm
4Romans 13:8, Ibid.