In the Gay marriage debate there are important shades of distinction to be explored. There are those who A) demand that gay marriage be legal and those that are B) OK with it being legal. Gay is the new black represents one aspect of the rhetoric that represents the group A. Despite your personal opinion, (gay) marriage is a fundamental right is an appeal from those in Group A to those on the fence to join group B.
“Gay is the new black” is a summation of a gay marriage argument that makes a direct comparison to banning mixed skin marriages as gay marriage, saying that the ban of the latter is as morally repugnant as the ban on the former in the era of segregation. Gay is the new black is a way of saying that gender is as unsubstantial a human reality as skin color. “Gender is as superficial as skin” is not stated in so many exact words but it can be redacted from of the rhetoric gay is the new black. For a Group A person “gender is as superficial as skin” is what they mean when they say that gay marriage is a "fundamental right" as a "right of design": that the moral imperative flows to view a gay union as the same as a hetero union and that seeing difference is as bigoted in seeing difference in race. I will explore this more depth a little later.
A person in Group B may or not believe in a complete one-to-one comparison of the black movement to the gay movement. The common belief of Group B is “that which cannot be compellingly made illegal by imminent and easily measurable harm needs to be left in the realm of choice”. For a Group B person, gay marriage is a "fundamental right" as a "right of utility" only in the sense that a certain privilege of choice is fundamental even if the choice is not necessarily ideal.
There is another way to describe the relationship between groups A and B – is that "gays are the new feminists". As in feminism the same debate occurs as to the meaning or lack thereof of gender. In Christina Hoff-Sommers book, Who Stole Feminism: How Women Have Betrayed Women, she delineates a “equity feminism” from “gender feminism”. Equity feminism is feminism that seeks to advance the cause of women without attempting to remove the idea of gender differences. Gender feminism sees it necessary to advance the cause of women by denying consequential gender differences and denying meaning to gender.
Gender feminism has a deeper worldview agenda than equity feminism. In the gay marriage debate, Group A is an extension of the gender feminist position, seeking to advance the cause of gays by denying meaning to gender. Group B is an extension of an equity feminist position that seeks mere equity under the law without regard to the question of sameness.
I am definitely not in the Group A but I have seriously considered the B position. Let’s explore the validity of the B position, most of our laws are very eye for an eye and are based on easy ethical questions of imminent harm, “if everyone did it there would be a problem…” Gender, though is a complex reality. Whether one sees the harm of denying meaning to gender depends largely on whether one has a worldview that requires that gender have meaning. The harm of gay marriage is not imminent as allowing people to steal from each other. Jerry Brown, a gay marriage supporter, has made the point regarding that there is not enough compelling imminent harm to a gay marriage to make it illegal.
Why am I still not supporting the gay marriage movement? Because I'm convinced that the gay marriage movement – including Group A with Jerry Brown included— will use every available means of the law to advance a package of moral views and intentions from the "gender is as insubstantial and superficial in its meaning to human existence as skin color" worldview. This is not a matter of those who have a parochial narrow worldview who see meaning in gender vs. those who have the broad interest of maximum freedom for the common good. Rather this is a matter of one worldview vs. another competing worldview.
My interest in this debate is to explain why this debate is not between those who would impose their moral vision on other vs. those who want maximum freedom. Rather it is a battle between competing moral impositions based on competing moral visions.
THE DESIGN OF GENDER
If gay is the new black, why have you not seen “gender is as superficial as skin” in a billboard? As a sheer design question, the statement on its face is easy to attack with science. You don’t need a Bible to see profundity to gender as a part of human design. If I examine the topic from an evolutionary standpoint I can find copious evidence for the meaning of gender and I can make a naturalistic argument for the specialness of a man-woman union.
Race is genetically insiginificant and gender is pre-human. We could have been designed by nature to reproduce as where each individual is “bi-gender” like certain amphibious animals that can switch genders as needed, but we reproduce with male and female genders that largely set. Nature has selected us according to a benefit to male and female and nature rewards that union with reproduction, something that the two together create that is not duplicated in the union of two gay people
Many of those with a naturalistic/evolutionary worldview believe that our needs that were forged in evolution are hold-overs/relics from our times surviving on the Savanah of Africa etc… There is an idea that we can take mastery over our evolution to suit the modern world shaping our evolution in the direction of minimum carnage and maximum harmony. This is only possible to a point. However we came to be, we were stamped. Even looked at from an evolutionary perspective, base needs were a crucible in which something more than base needs came about. We do not "need" art to survive but we nevertheless need art and we need it for needs far beyond impressing the chicks in order to reproduce.
In regard to gender, men and women do not simply need each other in the primitive sense of men being physically strong biological organisms needing to reproduce and women needing providers. It is not true that modern technology has freed us from essential emotional needs. We have been designed to get our emotion needs met with a sexual union across male and female and to have that be of benefit to kids.
Sexual attraction exists to attact the other, and the pleasure of sexuality is vicarious experience of a part of ones own humanity that one sees in the other that is both alien and familiar. The bond of sexuality in its full power is explained only as complementary needs being met, where the palate of human experience, the different aspects of what it is to be human are brought together for the best nourishment of each other and of children. No other view does justice to the awesome power of the sexual appetite than to recognize that there is a relational nutrition across male and female that the sexual appetite was made for.
Not all of life is a dispensation of perfect sameness and being gay is not the same as being hetero. In a gay person, the appetite for the experience of the other gone askew due to having a portion of a gender dis-order. Being gay leads to gay sexual experiences that do not join body parts in their best union of design and do not join people across the full spectrum of otherness that exists across male and female. Yes gay people can lead rich lives but their condition is not the best exression of human sexuality; it is not the same as being heterosexual.
Even if being gay is entirely naturally occuring as result of pre-natal exposure to hormones in the womb, it is the occurance of a partial version of what in its full form is a gender disorder. In a similar manner that Asperger’s syndrome is a lesser form of Autism, being gay is a lesser version of what in its full form would make one feel like a man in a womans body or vice versa. The latest science indicates that a gay mans brain has more female characteristics than a hetero man’s brain and that a gay woman’s brain has more male characteristics than a hetero woman’s brain.
The reason why this issue boils down to the meaning of gender is that if there is meaning to gender than there is a complementary union in a man woman union that isn't duplicated in a gay relationship. I have not given an exhaustive naturalistic argument for the superiority of hetero committed unions. I recognize that there are naturalistic counter-arguments. I'm not saying these things because I think it will convince those who disagree. I am certainly not saying them with the intent to inflict hurt and hatred on gay people, but to explain that there is commonly available naturalistic evidence for the profundity of gender cannot be dismissed as ridiculous, and there are consequences to this meaning.
THE SOCIAL TRUTH
How superficial and insubstantial is gender? Whether it is true in every dimension of truth the gay marriage hardcore absolutely believe is that we must “act” and operate as though the statement is true in every dimension. “Gender is as superficial as skin” may be a fiction from a purely objective standpoint but it is considered necessary to believe. In other words, if not a total “design truth” it is a total “social truth” that everyone must remove gay difference from one's moral vision of the world as one removed black difference. It is in the crack between objective truth and "social truth" that we get the idea of "politically correct". If it is socially true but not necessarily objectively true, then it is "correct", in the sense of being a "correct social orientation".
Here’s the problem with the gay is the new black rhetoric in regard to the question of design. The black civil rights movement made clear unequivocal statements of design. There is famous picture of black marching in the streets with “I am a man”. A clear four word statement of design that black men were every inch men that white men were men. “I am a man” was not merely a "social truth" or "necessary objective fiction" or "PC". Rather, the black movement was advancing clear unequivocal statement of objectively true design, and they were absolutely right. “I am a man" is a total social truth and a total "design truth." You would never hear Martin Luther King prefacing a speech with "despite your personal beliefs…” as in "despite your personal beliefs, all racial equality is a fundamental right" or "despite your personal beliefs, all men are created equal". Either they are all equal or they aren't, and you either believe it or your don't.
If Group A in the gay marriage debate wanted intellectual honesty in their comparison the black movement, they would need to clarify their social truth and how it relates to design truths. I have attempted to redact it, which can be stated as follows, "Gender is as superficial as skin. Is this a total design truth? We won't say. What we will say is that the question of whether there are or aren't design aspects of gender is irrelevant to any examination of human relationships and is irrelevant to any moral question involving human relationships. Therefore all decent people must operate with "gender is as superficial as skin" as a total social truth, as much as we now treat the black sameness with white as both a total social truth and total design truth."
The closest that the gay marriage advocates have come to this statement is making their movement co-equal to the black movement by harnessing the sympathy to that movement (“gay is the new black”) while also seeking the partnership of people who may find some narrow meaning to gender but who are willing to allow the law to be blind (“despite your personal beliefs…”). So how do you harness the same interest that was harnessed for the black movement without making as clear statements of design as the black movement made? Aside from calling people to bracket their "personal beliefs”, many in the gay marriage movement have compensated by labeling those who disagree as “haters”.
It is the charge of hatred that colors how one is to interpret Group A's appeal to Group B: that appealing to the "right of utility" crowd has current tactical value to a movement that seeks to advance "gender is as superficial as skin" as a total social truth. For Group A the “despite your personal beliefs, gay marriage is a fundamental right" slogan is a way of saying, “If you do have a personal belief that is contrary to this it is to be vacuumed sealed in the container of your thoughts, while the narrative of our culture and law goes squarely in the direction of "gender is as superficial as skin". If Group A is intellectually honest, it is not enough that the law is blind, for the total social truth, all pubic conversation must be "blind" and all discourse in school and universities must be "blind".
If you take the personal belief out of the vacuum container of your thoughts you are a hater. This is true even if you would stand up for a gay person in the street who was being bullied. In regard to the gay marriage debate it doesn’t' matter: having the opinion that a hetero union is superior to a gay union is tantamount to the bullying. The position opposing total sameness of gay marriage and hetero marriage is thus a pre-crime for all violence done to gays, and is violence of a different form.
The Group A tactic of identifying a position contrary to gay marriage is "hate" is penultimate to making it illegal as "hate speech". With this, any point of view that questions "gender is as superficial as skin" can be labeled as fundamentally harmful to society. In the name of stopping harm, the imposition of moral thought has already begun, as on can see here in this article.
So how will Adam and Steve getting married affect your marriage? In the context of the current debate, it is intellectually dishonest to put a microscope on a couple of individuals named Adam and Steve in order to make a "right of utility argument". The legal and social apparatus of Group A to advance the "gay is as superficial as skin" worldview for the collective "Adams and Steve's" to be married will have a profound effect on what forces one must counter to raise one's kids according to a belief that gender has meaning.
I don't like the law "sheparding people into goodness". There is a part of me that is sympathetic to a "right of utility" argument. On the other hand, there are aspects of law that are pivot points where people will either be sheparded into one view of goodness or another view of goodness in an alternate moral paradigm. I see this gay marriage debate as a realm that goes far beyond mere utility: it is a crossroads of conflicting impositions where the law will either shepard people into the "gender is as superficial as skin" worldview or the "gender has some degree of meaning" worldview.
Most all of us in this debate are equity feminists in the sense that we all agree that gender should be largely blind in the human resource departments. Those opposing and/or questioning the total legal sameness of gay unions and hetero unions say that the degree of gender blindess that is being asked of society is gender blindness gone too far; that it requires too much non-acknowledgement of something real in human reality; that marriage cuts closer to the bone of sexual meaning than the human resource department – and has implications that radiate beyond the privacy of marriage beds ; that enough imposition of gender blindness is an imposition not of a more generous legal vision but of an alternate moral vision.
If you believe that there is any substance to gender, the Group A agenda within the gay marriage movement is the imposition of "gender nihilism" in the face of evidence of profound meaning to gender.