LGBT rights and marriage equality are issues that quickly polarize people. However, two things that show me hope are the growing number of people who view SOGIE issues positively and the growing number of political figures supporting LGBT people. All of this means more people are showing interest in the welfare of everyone. Gone are the days when the only thing you can see on TV or read on the news about queer people is comic ridicule and ostracism.
Occasionally, the ugly head of traditional beliefs about human sexuality crop up to take us back to a time when societies persecute gay people. This leads me to a recent interview the world-renowned Filipino boxer and congressman, Manny Pacquiao, gave to Bilang Pilipino regarding same-sex marriage.
Translation: “It’s common sense. Do you see two male animals or two female animals together? The animals are better, being able to distinguish between male and female. Now if it’s two men or two women, then man is worse than an animal.”
I wish the senator aspirant were more charitable towards gay and lesbian people. But then I see the same opinion from religious conservatives, many of whom have negative views towards LGBT people. So maybe I shouldn’t be too optimistic.
The controversy escalated quickly, drawing ire from the LGBT community here in the country and abroad. Rep. Pacquiao already asked for an apology and cited his personal beliefs. The conservative community came to his rescue, and the exchanges inundated threads. Discussions get a little too murky, so I decided not to participate anymore and to just put my thoughts about the things that were said into writing.
What exactly is common sense? I don’t understand what common sense is anymore. People like to invoke the “common sense” in arguments and discussions to charm naive audiences and make them agree without having to think the issue through. Really what is common sense based on? Is it based on facts? Is it based on statistical data? Is it based on research? Is it based on logic?
When you say you don’t support marriage equality because common sense is telling you marriage is for a man and a woman, where is this common sense based on? Is it based on your religious beliefs? If so, are we going to adhere entirely to your religious beliefs? Supposing you say yes, by virtue of looking at your religious beliefs as grounded on Biblical morality, then are you ready to follow entirely what the Bible says?
There goes the problem with following the Bible in its entirety, because from observation, hardly any Christian follows the Scripture completely. One of the things that intrigue me is the gross ignorance of many homophobes of the ridiculous Leviticus passages, such as admonitions against eating shellfish or wearing mixed fabric. Of course, they get at least two excuses. One, Jesus had abolished the Old Testament, or so at least one of them told me. Two, we’re taking, for instance, Leviticus 11:10 out of context. The funny thing is antigay Biblical passages can be taken literally, but something like wearing mixed fabric or eating shrimp should be reinterpreted first. So the shrimp lovers get a convenient excuse.
The New Testament causes trouble when some of its parts are taken literally. Thus, 1 Timothy 2:12 should be subjected to exegesis first so that it doesn’t sound too misogynistic. Of course, I disagree with 1 Timothy 2:12 whether I take it literally or I take the reinterpreted version. But then you have Romans 1:31-32, where homophobes only single out the word “homosexual” for the death sentence and leave out gossipers, braggarts, and disobedient kids. Not that I want disobedient kids to die. No, of course, not.
It seems to me that Christians who oppose the LGBT rights advocacy only admonish against homosexual behavior but don’t admonish against premarital sex, concubinage, or adultery. Suddenly, guys who had had sex with their ex-girlfriends are worried about someone else’s sin. Of course, they tell you or lie to you that they’ve repented already, so they’re now entitled to point out the sins of other people. It’s ridiculous because anyone who had engaged in gay sex can also just repent and call out straight fornicators for fornicating. After all, from a Biblical standpoint both will not inherit the kingdom of God. So what’s the point?
In addition, calling homosexuality a sin doesn’t make any sense from the Biblical and logical perspective in many ways. The Bible condemns a lot of things without offering sound explanations why it does so. It only says if a man lies with a man as he lies with a woman, then he has committed an abomination, but there’s no sound explanation really as to why it considers it an abomination. The typical religious fanatic would just say it’s true because the Bible says so. Some of them resort to appeals to nature (e.g. procreation) to explain why it’s wrong. Even that is problematic because population data tells us that despite the existence of gay people and gay sex, the human population growth has been exponential. So you have to look at the population growth charts when you say people should stop doing gay or lesbian sex for the sake of preserving the human race. Don’t you still get it? Humans won’t go extinct just because some of them engage in gay relationships and gay sex.
But wait a second.
So “common sense” takes the form of the usual “a man and a woman can create a baby.” That’s right if we’re talking about sex. Heterosexual marriages per se don’t lead to having children. Heterosexual sex does, and not all the time. So when you think about it, the procreation argument is not an argument for heterosexual marriages; it’s an argument for heterosexual sex and against homosexual sex. The problem is, we’re not talking about sex. We’re talking about marriage and relationships. Marriage doesn’t necessarily beget sex, and neither does sex necessarily beget marriage. Realistically speaking, people have sex whether or not they’re married. Procreation is not a requirement for marriage. It doesn’t always and doesn’t necessarily follow marriage. That’s why seniors and sterile people can get married. So when conservatives use the procreation argument, I hope they figure out it doesn’t make any sense in the issue of marriage. Of course, they don’t figure it out.
The other problem with basing your opinion with regard to same-sex marriage on the Bible is the fact that same-sex marriage is an issue of legislation and not religion. Religion is irrelevant in this discussion because gay or lesbian couples are not after priests or imams to wed them. They are after state recognition. We’re not going to march into churches and force priests to officiate a marriage ceremony — supposing gay marriage becomes legal. I think that’s something many antigay religious people don’t understand and therefore should be said over and over. If you think that gay relationships are immoral, you’re free to think that way. But when you start imposing your beliefs, that’s where we have to draw the line between your freedom to express your religion and our human rights.
Another problem with the Bible-based common sense is its truthfulness. I understand your emotional attachment to your religion, and this emotional attachment means you take Biblical passages by heart and exempt them from intellectual discussions, deconstructions, and analysis — unless, of course, if you’re a theologian or a scholar, in which case I would sit down and listen to you. Of course, the average antigay Christian never cares about interpreting the Sodom and Gomorrah story, for instance. That’s okay. What’s not okay is when you use this “common sense” in arguments for legislative discourse. Again, same-sex marriage is an issue of legislation, not religion. What I’m saying is if you can’t make an intellectual case for your religion-based opinion against same-sex marriage, then you have no business telling the secular community what to do in this case. In other words, leave us alone.
Now supposing you say your common sense isn’t based on religion, but is based on nature, then be ready to face the brute facts. The claim that animals don’t exhibit homosexual behavior doesn’t work. It’s not even true. Anyone who uses this argument shoots themselves in the foot from the get go. We know that many animals, including vertebrates and mammals, exhibit homosexual behavior. You can actually just go to YouTube and watch two male dogs having sex.
But the appeal to nature is wrong on another level, and even antigay conservatives realize it when you show them male dogs having sex. The argument morphs into “we shouldn’t base our lives on animals.” Wait, I thought we were supposed to follow animals because you claimed they didn’t engage in gay sex. But this one I can agree with — on some level. I don’t think it’s fair to compare relationships between humans with relationships between animals. Animals don’t have cognitive circuitry as complex as humans do, so the relationships are different from the perspective of psychological experience.
Sarcastically speaking, animals don’t get married. Dogs can’t read a marriage certificate, let alone sign on it. This whole comparison with animals is plain ridiculous. Besides, dogs don’t care that some male dogs have sex with each other. This homophobic nosiness is only present in humans. So maybe Manny Pacquiao is right after all. Humans may be worse than animals, but not in the way he thinks.
Perhaps it’s time to send “common sense” to its deathbed because what’s common doesn’t always make sense. And when “common” doesn’t make sense, the results can be dangerous.