Zingrone: Redefining marriage

William Zingrone Associate professor of psychology

Richard Nelson who sets himself up as the “Commonwealth Policy Center” from Cadiz has written letters to The Murray State News Opinion Editor a few times this semester to expound on Creationism and other conservative with a capital “C” concerns; most recently, the “defense of man-woman marriage.”

This time it was the failure of the Kentucky attorney general to defend the Commonwealth’s marriage law. Our pal really got incensed over another rat jumping off the “Good Ship DOMA.” Furthermore one of those rats dared to say that “redefining marriage doesn’t affect anyone else’s marriage.” Nelson set them all straight with this line right out of the local Baptist pulpit: “How human beings order themselves in the most intimate of ways has everything to do with the success or demise of their civilization.”

Let’s unpack that, shall we? So if two guys have sex the cosmic order becomes a bit unbalanced but can somehow recover and proceed, but if we dare let them wear a wedding band while they’re doing it, holy hell! Civilization will come crashing down around us like cutoffs in a bathhouse.

Mr. Nelson’s a bright guy and probably clear-headed and logical in much of what he does in his daily life tasks but when it comes to religious ideas, reasoning goes out the window. He then quotes a “marriage advocate” who tells it like it was: “sex makes babies, society needs babies and babies need mothers and fathers.” And there you have it. We won’t have any babies or mommies or daddies for babies if we let gays and lesbians get married. Somehow they will take over the world if we let them marry or somehow convert or out-compete or all the heterosexuals and or their couplings and put an end to society. Mr. Director and the marriage advocate and their ilk never quite explain that last part: exactly how all this destruction of society is going to happen? One tenet of conservative Xiansanity’s absurd and completely wrong anti-gay propaganda is that homosexuality is a “lifestyle choice,” a “learned behavior.” Evidently they further believe this lifestyle could somehow take over the world and turn us all gay if we give it just one more sanction: allowing them to marry. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Some data on the subject is in order. Homosexuals make up around 5 to 8 percent of the population in any country, any culture, now and in the past. In hundreds of other sexually reproducing species, there is a similar minimum of same sex behavior, with most of the species individuals reproducing just fine heterosexually and producing plenty of offspring. Humans are no exception. Despite same sex behavior going back for millennia, we humans surely have had no problem making and fostering babies. From a few million (or less) on the planet for much of our existence we now have a population of more than seven billion, and growing. So having some gay folks around has never slowed us down one bit. There have always been plenty of babies and mommies and daddies for babies for society to grow.

And just who does the “Commonwealth Policy Center” think they speak for in America? Twenty five percent of us declare ourselves unaffiliated with any religion. Of the others who are religious, 5 percent are of non-Xian affiliation. Of the 70 percent that do identify as Xians, the more liberal sects like United Church of Christ, Unitarians and others don’t have any problem with gay marriage. According to the Barna Group: “Nearly half of practicing Protestants under 40 today support changing laws to enable more freedoms for the LGBTQ community, while just one-third of their parents’ and grandparents’ generation feel the same.” Pew Research in 2013 said: “Americans’ opinions on same-sex marriage have changed markedly since 2001, when 57 percent of the overall U.S. population said they opposed the practice. Now, the tide has shifted so that half of Americans favor the practice and only 43 percent do not.” That leaves the Catholic Church and the conservative Xian denominations like the Baptists, Pentecostals and Church of Christ. Just like the issue of birth control, the majority of Catholics do not buy the party line. This from the Public Religion Research Institute: “Catholics are more supportive of legal recognitions of same-sex relationships than members of any other Christian tradition and Americans overall. Nearly three-quarters of Catholics favor either allowing gay and lesbian people to marry (43 percent) or allowing them to form civil unions (31 percent). Only 22 percent of Catholics say there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship.” So that leaves the older conservative Xians and a few old Catholics who generally oppose it, maybe 10 to 15 percent of the population. And they can oppose it all they want, but the rest of us don’t have to go along with their religious ideas anymore. That’s religious freedom.


Column by William Zingrone, Associate professor of psychology