Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Living in a Gender-Neutral World

On July 25, supporters of Washington State Referendum 71 turned in 138,500 signatures in the hope that citizens of my state will be able to vote for or against fundamental changes in the English language.

Signers of petitions resented that legislators had approved on May 4 Senate Bill 5688, which some called the "everything but marriage" bill, allowing registered domestic partners all the privileges, rights and responsibilities of married couples (similar to the situation in California).

As I've said before, I don't mind if gay couples make lifetime commitments and even receive the benefits of law afforded straight people who are married. But SB 5688 doesn't just extend specific privileges by inserting "...and domestic partners" in the list of who's covered. Instead, it actually changes the meaning of English in dozens of chapters and titles in the "Revised Code of Washington," the list of functioning laws in the state: "...gender specific terms such as 'husband' and 'wife' used in any statue, rule, or other law shall be construed to be gender neutral and applicable to individuals in state registered domestic partnerships."

Voila! A wife is the same as a husband! A son the same as a daughter! A widow the same as a widower! Finally, there's no such thing as gender in the English language in the state of Washington!

And that is the agenda of gay marriage advocates: to blur the most fundamental distinction that exists between human beings, male and female. They seek to downplay the importance to society of procreative sex, gaining government's endorsement for their type of sexuality. They want to remove society's encouragement of two biological parents raising their children, and elevate the status of two guys (or women) who by definition can never raise their biological children, as equally essential to the future of our state.

And once Washington State officially designates everybody as gender-neutral, it follows logically that the accepted language should apply to marriage laws as well as everything else. Why should marriage be the only exception to gender-neutrality, after all?

"We have the right to marry the person we love!" insist gay marriage advocates, who conveniently don't push for polygamy, under-age unions or incest, all of which are less of a change in marriage (still involving man-woman combining) than gay marriage brings.

Marriage has at times been deemed a fundamental right--but only as traditionally defined, a man and a woman. It's not a civil right if you're already married to someone else. And it's only been a "right" in the US between a man and woman who meet qualifications set by law. The electorate, sometimes directly and sometimes through their representatives, gets to decide what those qualifications are (some states set minimum marriage age at 16 or 17, for example). But nowhere, ever, has marriage been a "right" between two men or two women, until recent gay marriage advocates and "progressive" (rather than objective) journalists have decided to label it so.

I don't know if Referendum 71 will qualify for the ballot (it needs 120,577 validated signatures), or, if it does, if it will gain enough support to repeal Senate Bill 5688. Today its supporters fended off the threat of the pro-gay marriage group "Who Signed" to publish the names and addresses of petitioners; the Tacoma judge agreed that publishing them was solely for the purpose of harassment.

I kind of doubt that enough people care to read the 110 pages of SB 5688 (as I did), and as long as gays don't gain the "right to marry," I don't know that enough Washingtonians will care if they get "everything but." Still, somebody ought to point out that SB 5688 isn't just talking about being nice or fair to gay people, but rather inserting in our laws that men and women are interchangeable; that a husband is a wife is a sister is a brother. If the bill stands, then despite the DNA marking every cell in our bodies, here in The Evergreen State, we'll be living in a gender-neutral world.

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