The debate about gay marriage is between ‘progressives’ and ‘conservatives’. At least this is the idea we get from television. We hear conservative religious arguments about the sanctity of marriage and the family and how gay marriage threatens those fundamental institutions.
These conservative religious views are backed up by or interwoven with other views on sexual matters, the natural order of male and female, the commitment to abstinence of sex before and outside marriage, objections to public display of (partial) nudity, explicit sexual language or images, indecency and obscenity, a restrictive view of contraception and divorce, a condemnation of abortion, child sexuality, pornography, prostitution, etcetera.
The progressives are usually angry at these conservatives. They accuse them of restricting choice, of standing in the way of rationality, of violating human rights. They point out that in some other countries fundamentalism is even harsher. In Western countries even the conservatives allow women and men to sit together during religious service, or allow women to walk the street without covering their bodies including their heads, allow advertising with women’s bare arms and legs displayed, allow movies with French kissing couples, permit public advertising for contraceptives, let adultery go unpunished, allow alcohol and even gambling, etcetera.
We transcend this debate. Although in having to make a political choice, we are naturally on the side of the progressives, we are on principle critical about gay marriage because we are critical about marriage itself. It is to be hoped that one day people will not get married anymore. And that is not because of the ritual, the wedding part, of it. No, marriage is inextricably bound up with the family. The reason why people get married is mostly because they want to have a family of their own, make children of their own.
The family as we know it is the root of individual and social life. Some good but a lot of bad in the world can only be understood by looking at the family as we know it. One day the world will change when the whole sexual system of which the family is one aspect, is exposed.
Gays can and should naturally be part of the struggle to abolish the sexual system, which keeps humans imprisoned in the family, and thus in ignorance, obedience, in fear and hatred, violence, inequality and injustice. But gays and lesbians (as they are labelled and label themselves) who want to be married no longer fight for a better world; they only fight to improve their position in this world. They want, demand, beg, whine, to be accepted by this world, to be considered respectable by this world, to be part of this world. This is just one example of how deeply the family is ingrained in our psychological, material and mythological make-up.
And so the gays and their supporters may, relatively speaking, be ‘progressive’, just as their religious conservative opponents in this part of the world are relatively progressive compared with the real diehards of fundamentalism, but in fact gay marriage is also a symptom of conservatism because it strengthens marriage, and does not destroy it, as the conservative religious opponents claim. At least not for the time being. Never before were marriage and family so popular as they are today, and never before did this popularity so clearly produce the, ignorance, pollution, injustice and violence in the world as we know it.