November 1, 2011

‘Gender-Segregated Marriage’

Twelve reasons to stop calling it ‘gay marriage’ or ‘same-sex marriage’ and start calling it ‘gender-segregated marriage’

Six states have legalized marriage for same gender couples. Many refer to this as “gay marriage” or “same-sex marriage” (SSM). But there are several problems with those terms. Calling it gender-segregated marriage (GSM) is more accurate and effective. Before we head into the 2012 election cycle, let’s rethink our terminology.

1. “Gay marriage” is misleading

Opposing gay marriage makes it sound as if we oppose gays. But that is a false assumption. We have friends, relatives, and neighbors dealing with same sex attraction. We’re not against them; we don’t oppose people. We oppose redefining marriage; we oppose bad policy.

2. Everyone can marry

Also, the term “gay marriage” implies that individuals with same sex attraction need their own type of marriage since they are excluded from traditional marriage. But they’re not. The truth is, they can already marry in all 50 states. There is no heterosexual question on the marriage license. There is simply a gender requirement. Everyone has a gender; everyone qualifies.

Just as there is no heterosexual litmus test for the marriage license, there is no homosexual question either, only gender. In six states, two men can marry each other for legal benefits even if they are straight. So why call it gay marriage?

3. “Same-sex marriage” is not the same sex

The term “same sex marriage” is also misleading. “Same sex” insinuates that what two guys do in their bedroom is identical to what a husband and wife do. But the sex is definitely not the same. It is different biologically, socially, and physically. Because it is so different, states that legalize GSM will need to revamp their sex education classes to ensure they teach public schoolchildren how unigender couples have sex. Otherwise they risk discrimination lawsuits.

4. “Straight marriage” or “different sex marriage”?

If we refer to two men as having a gay marriage, what do we call the other kind: straight marriage? As noted previously, that’s inaccurate since men with same-sex attraction can marry the opposite sex. So why call it straight marriage?

And what’s the counterpoint to same-sex marriage? Different-sex marriage? Sounds kinky.

5. The term gender-segregated marriage is scientific and accurate

Our sex is determined before birth, long before any orientation or attraction is developed. We are born male and female, and then we develop sexually and express our sexuality with our gendered bodies. This is not rocket science, people. However, it is science.

A crucial problem with GSM is the exclusion of the other gender. Calling it gender-segregated marriage takes the focus off homosexuality and highlights the gender issue. Instead of boxing in an individual’s sexual preferences, it bases marriage law on the biological sex of a person. Rather than stressing what the individual wants, it emphasizes who the person is.

Regardless of whether they have same-sex attraction or not, the problem with two men marrying each other is that any children they adopt will grow up lacking a mother. The core problem for this family is they purposely exclude women. Calling this gender segregation is clear and accurate.

6. Gender segregation is analogous to racial segregation

Another benefit to calling it gender-segregated marriage is that it puts gay rights advocates on the defense. What liberal wants to be known as an activist for gender segregation?

Gay rights activists frame their cause with the civil rights story to gain sympathy. They certainly don’t want to be on the side of segregation. “Separate but equal” didn’t work in schools; why do gay rights activists assume it will work in marriage? Next time they bring up Rosa Parks’ name, ask how much she’d like to get kicked off the bus not because she’s black but because she’s a woman. Think Rosa would prefer gender discrimination to racial discrimination?

7. Pro diversity

The term “gender-segregated marriage” is also beneficial since traditional or natural marriage could then be called gender-diverse marriage (or gender-integrated or gender-inclusive marriage.) Gender-segregated marriage denies the beauty, power, and importance of gender diversity. What self-respecting liberal activist wants to oppose gender diversity or gender integration?

8. Appeal to youth

Currently young Americans are trending in favor of homosexual rights. It is crucial for them to hear that so-called gay marriage is actually gender segregation. They need to know we are not discriminating against individuals with same-sex attraction. We are taking a stand against gender segregation in marriage. We need to state our case clearly so youth will want to join our team.

9. Kid-friendly

GSM solves the awkwardness of explaining what “gay” marriage is to youngsters. Little kids shouldn’t have to learn about homosexuality before they even know what sex is. Our job is to protect their innocence, not steal it from them.

The term gender-segregation is kid-friendly. Simply explain that segregation means separation and gender refers to male and female. Even preschoolers understand boys and girls.

10. Favored minority

People with same sex attraction are currently enjoying a favored status with liberals and the media. Taking a stand against “gay marriage” leads to discussions about homosexuality, which in turn can lead to getting investigated, bullied on Facebook, or fired. Precisely because they are a minority, people with same-sex attraction automatically get preferential treatment from many Americans. Folks naturally root for the underdog.

11. No minority

In contrast, referring to this phenomenon as gender-segregated marriage keeps the focus on gender, not the sexual attraction. It is scientific, objective, quantifiable.

Plus, everyone has a gender – there is no minority, no underdog. We are on equal footing. We can have intelligent conversations without name-calling: homophobic, gay, hate-filled, etc.

12. Lawsuits

As more and more gender-segregated couples sue gender-diverse couples for discrimination, this new terminology will be in the defendants’ favor. What jury wants to go on record for convicting a gender-integrated couple for taking a stand against gender segregation in marriage?

Born that way

We are born male and female. When two men “marry,” it is a gender-segregated marriage and when a man and woman marry, it’s diversity. The more we use the term gender-segregated marriage the more we can debate this topic clearly and accurately. If we start now, we have plenty of time to incorporate this terminology into the American lexicon. Folks need to understand the ramifications of this issue before they vote in the 2012 elections.

In conversation and online comments, use accurate terms. The next time someone asks your opinion about gay marriage, ask him how he feels about gender-segregated marriage.

Frances Kelly lives in Vermont and write about gender issues at the blog:

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