The homosexual movement won a critical victory in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. As this timely issue marches its way to the United States Supreme Court, the hour is meet for a serious consideration of what victory in this area of civil liberties truly means.
Before we delve further, allow me to enumerate what this post does not purport to do. It is not a commentary on the ethics of sexual liberation or alternative sexual lifestyles. That’s a topic for another blog in another corner of the philosophy department. This post only endeavors to examine the impacts, positive and negative, of the homosexual rights movement on the individual freedom of human beings.
The law of equal protection looks at people in terms of “classes.” The entire body of equal protection law, from The Slaughter House Cases and the induction of the 14th Amendment to the present day seeks to foster the growth of a racially, ethnically, and sexually blind society through the creation of distinctions. Often these distinctions find their basis in immutable characteristics. Sometimes not. Whether homosexuality falls into the “immutable” category has been one of the hottest points of contention in the long battle towards sexual equality. See Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620, 636 (1996) (Scalia, J. dissenting) (“The Court has mistaken a Kulturkampf for a fit of spite. The constitutional amendment before us here is not the manifestation of a “ ‘bare … desire to harm’ ” homosexuals . . . but is rather a modest attempt by seemingly tolerant Coloradans to preserve traditional sexual mores against the efforts of a politically powerful minority to revise those mores through use of the laws.”).
In part to better fit within the equal protection lexicon, the homosexuality movement has clung to the scientific evidence tending to suggest a genetic predisposition to a sexual orientation. There is no reason to dispute this evidence. Nevertheless, it is somewhat of a sacrifice to rest on the laurels of predisposition in order to obtain freedoms rightfully the province of all the human race. The gay marriage issue has been, for the majority interests in this dialectic, an exercise of power. The power to exclude and the power to discriminate. The power of the “moral high ground”. These structures seek to oppress those culturally unlike themselves — an age old human fascination. But ultimately, and most abhorrently in the mind of this Author, the present legal and social structure seeks to suppress legal (although possibly malum prohibitum) personal choices. True democracy is made of sterner stuff.
In Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness, he argues that a man is not a homosexual the same way that he is red-headed or African American. He may have a genetic predisposition towards a certain class of sexual behaviors, but he still has free will, and thus the ability to act in a near infinite number of ways. The entire endeavor to categorize human beings into sexual categories has a dehumanizing effect – every single one of our gay and straight brothers and sisters are so much more than their sexual proclivity. It attempts to invalidate our choices. A human being’s choices should concentrate on the ethics of the choice, the well reasoned choice. They should not, save in those instances most crucial to human interaction — laws against murder, rape, etc. — become packaged into categories and shelved under the appropriate legislative heading.
I extend my congratulations to the attorneys, parties, and persons benefitting from the Ninth Circuit’s Ruling. As things progress, remember the costs of this small liberty. You may gain the right to marry, but at the expense of being appropriated into a category, sapped of individuality. The task of future court battles and future discussions is to direct the discourse away from such insidious ends.