Friday, April 5, 2013

Traditional Marriage, Gender Roles & Birth Control

An article this week from Tiffany K. Wayne, titled Same-Sex Marriage Does Threaten "Traditional Marriage" does an excellent job at pointing out just exactly what is threatened by same-sex marriage: traditional gender roles.  Wayne writes:
Same-sex marriage makes a lie of the very foundation of traditional gender roles.  Same-sex marriages say that a woman can run a household, or that a man can raise a child. This does not square with those whose lives and beliefs and relationships depend on upholding and living their lives based on differences between the sexes.
Wayne is right on in her analysis.  This is absolutely about equality.  It is absolutely also about feminism and gender roles.  The fight against same-sex marriage is inherently linked to the fights against women's reproductive freedom. 

Wayne doesn't get into religion in her article, which is a shame, because I think it would further her argument.  If one looks to the Bible for what marriage is about, and then looks at the Biblical arguments against homosexual practices (for the Bible doesn't speak about same-sex marriage, just sex), it's very clear that marriage laws are about property and same-sex relationships are problematic because they are a threat to the understanding of property.  Women are owned in the Bible; they are possessions.  Marriage is an economic agreement between men about the body of a woman.  As it was explained to me in reading and studying on this passage, the reason a man "shall not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman" (Lev 18:22, NIV) is because a man can't own another man.  Upsetting gender roles in general in the Bible is abomination.

Another example of the way property and sex are linked Biblically is to think about the case of Onan.  Onan "spilled his semen on the ground..." (Genesis 38:9, NIV).  For this, he was punished by God, which gives us the Biblical argument against masturbation.  But the problem with Onan's actions lies later in the same verse: "... to keep from providing offspring for his brother."  Onan's duty was to provide his late brother's wife with offspring, but Onan didn't want to do this.  What was at stake was ownership, property, inheritance.  Masturbation in the Bible isn't really an issue about sex -- it's an issue about property.

But back to gender roles, specifically women.  Wayne writes:
An even more frightening argument against same-sex marriage that is blasting from my TV is that the state has an interest in “procreation” – i.e. who does it and under what circumstances.... It is about who should bear children and under what circumstances. In other words, controlling women’s reproductive behavior.  We often hear the case of Loving v. Virginia (1967) – the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case undoing the ban on interracial marriage – brought up as an example or precedent for expanding civil rights when it comes to marriage.  But equally as relevant to the current political climate, I would argue, is the 1965 case of Griswold v. Connecticut, in which the U.S. Supreme Court decided that married couples could use contraception.  Let me repeat that: the United States Supreme Court had to decide that a married woman could practice birth control. And if you think that decision is untouchable and safely entrenched in the history books, then you haven’t been paying attention to threats to access to not only abortion, but birth control, in recent political battles.
Need examples?  In Michigan, a bill is advancing through the legislature that would allow health care providers to refuse to provide services based on religious objections.  This refusal would not be required to be disclosed in advance.  State law already gives health care workers the right to refuse to perform abortions.  So what is this about?  Birth control.  Oh, and it doesn't just give the right doctors and pharmacists to refuse to prescribe birth control or fill prescriptions.  It also gives Michigan employers the right to have their insurance refuse to cover birth control for their employees.  Think this won't pass through our Republican-controlled legislature and be signed by Governor Snyder?  I wouldn't bet on it.

What I hope for most is for our feminists and our LBGT advocates to ban together and understand that these issues are deeply connected.  If we lose the fight on same-sex marriage, we'll be losing the fight on birth control, and vice versa. 

In Michigan, having safely banned same-sex marriage by constitutional amendment, the push has been on restricting reproductive freedom, through limiting access to abortion and birth control.  It's time we pushed back here, and pushed back hard. 

And now, a brief advertisement.  For Jackson residents, our next JXN Community Forum will be on April 18th at 6:30 p.m. at the Carnegie Library downtown.  And the subject is reproductive freedom, with a small panel consisting of our representative, Rep. Earl Poleski (R), and someone from Planned Parenthood.  It will be an excellent opportunity to find out what the recent legislation in Michigan has accomplished, and what is upcoming. 

No comments: