One of the best articles I have ever read on the topic of gay marriage was by Raimond Gaita, an emeritus professor of moral philosophy at King’s College London. He puts his finger on the reason for opposition to gay marriage:
“Many opponents of gay marriage do not see depth at all in gay sexuality. They think gay relationships are, at best, loving friendship plus sex. The sex and the loving friendship, they believe, can never be integrated in a way marriage requires them to be. Implicit in the marriage vow is a requirement to seek an ever-deepening understanding of the way love and sexuality enrich one another. It is an understanding of the place of sexuality in our sense of what it is to be human, and the requirement to seek it has no end. ”Marriage”, one might say, is a verb rather than a noun.
Obviously people who find gay sex disgusting or immoral do not think gay sexuality can rise to that requirement. But the kind of blindness to the meaning of gay sexuality that I have just described is pervasive, I believe. It lies behind the emphatic ”is” when people say marriage is between a man and woman – by definition, they are tempted to say. For them ”gay marriage” is an oxymoron.
That is a more radical position than the one that judges gay sex to be immoral. Even the most severe moral condemnation of anal sex cannot make ”anal sex” an oxymoron. But the belief that gay sex, of its very nature, cannot have the depth that would enable it to rise to the marriage vow, implies that nothing the state can do can make a marriage out of a gay relationship.
From this perspective, even if the law were to permit gay marriages, these would be marriages in inverted commas only. The state cannot do what is, so to speak, conceptually impossible.”
Raimond goes on to provide one of the most beautiful articulations for empathy that I have ever read:
“Our sense of a common humanity is premised on seeing in all human beings their capacity to make meaning that we respect of the big facts that define the human condition – our mortality, our vulnerability to misfortune and, of course, our sexuality. To be blind to that in others is to be partially blind to their humanity.”
History is replete with horrific examples of times when humans have been blind to the humanity of others. Nazi Germany is only the worst example of what can happen when we deny the humanity of our fellows
The truth is we are small children, struggling together through a foreign country. Out of our depth, lost and alone except for each other. The world may be teeming with humanity, consciousness is still a rare and potent gift in this amazing universe.