Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Doing the Right Thing: California's Same Sex Marriage Ruling

Doing the Right Thing: California’s Same Sex Marriage Ruling
By Sikivu Hutchinson

The California Supreme Court’s May 16th ruling legalizing same sex marriages elicited the usual howl of righteous outrage from conservatives, religious mafiosos
and other self-proclaimed traditional family values types. They believe same sex marriages are the devil’s spawn because they circumvent the sacred union of male and female and the Biblical covenant to propagate the human race. Indeed, if the Christian god had wanted gays to reproduce he would have created Adam and Steve instead of Adam and Eve, and presumably made donor insemination and In vitro fertilization less expensive. Of course one of the primary objections to same sex unions is the argument that gays and lesbians cannot raise children with the same level of care and competency as straight couples. According to this view, same sex unions produce children who are hopelessly dysfunctional and more prone to becoming gay themselves. Same sex unions flout traditional family values by violating the most basic rules of God and patriarchy, namely that women and children are property and should honor and obey.

Yet if we were to take inventory of straight offenses in the dominant culture it would seem that “traditional” is domestic abuse, incest, pedophilia, abandonment,
and socializing young straight males to define their masculinity by violent domination of women and other men. Traditional marriage has provided straight masculinity
with a cover from social scrutiny of violent behavior. How many times has the perpetrator of heinous acts of sexual assault been a married man, devoted father and model citizen? In these instances heterosexual men are not deemed universally unfit to raise female children yet for opponents of same sex marriage the immorality of homosexuality automatically invalidates gay and lesbian families.

In Minneapolis public elementary schools an anti-bullying curriculum designed to increase respect and sensitivity for gay, lesbian and transgendered children and their families has recently come under fire from some local parents and community members who’ve criticized it as a form of gay indoctrination. Most of these objections rest on the na├»ve notion that broaching sexual orientation to elementary kids recklessly introduces sexuality into a context where it didn’t exist before. Yet as our 24/7 tabloid media culture corrupts the last vestiges of childhood innocence, kids are increasingly sexualized, taking their cues on how to be male and female at earlier ages. In the hierarchical world of the elementary playground dress, social group choice and attraction to the opposite sex all mark kids as acceptably male or female. Those who don’t conform to the norms of mainstream gender behavior are labeled tomboys, fags, sissies or worse. And any boy who bucks gender orthodoxy at school by wearing so-called effeminate clothes or showing affection for a male friend may suffer tragic consequences, as did Larry King, the 15 year old openly gay Oxnard middle school student who was murdered by one of his classmates in February.

While the legalization of same sex marriages is certain to be challenged by conservatives with a ballot initiative this November, legal protection may open up new vistas for families no longer forced to hide or justify their loving parental relationships in the face of moral hypocrisy from the traditional family values regime. Let’s hope voters endorse the California Supreme Court’s decision and reject the gender minefield that “non-traditional” families must navigate for basic civil rights.

Sikivu Hutchinson is the editor of, a journal of feminist criticism and literature a commentator on KPFK 90.7FM.