Thursday, November 06, 2008

Tradition Protected

With the passing of Proposition 8 in California, I am hearing the statement, “Thank goodness the traditional definition of marriage has been affirmed.” I have seen the argument against homosexual marriage is that it is not ”traditional.” This is a stupid argument, and should rightly be abandoned.

Two questions immediately come to mind:

1) How long must something be practiced before it is “traditional”? and
2) What is it about “tradition” that makes something correct, moral or right?

As I grew up, steeped in Baptist Culture, I attended weddings. After a while, to a young boy, they all looked the same. There was a reason for this—they were. The wedding would take place in the church. Same wedding song was played. (“Here comes the bride. Big, Fat and Wide. Where is the Groom? In the Dressing Room. Why is he there? He lost his underwear.” Sung by every 8-year-old at some point, I warrant.) Same formation on stage. Same verses read. (Ephesians 5. 1 Cor. 13) Same sermonette. (“The ring is round, indicating eternal. It is made of gold, because it is precious.”)

Candles. Kneeling bench. Coupla solos.

Reception to follow in the church hall. Same food. (Even the same mints.) Same ceremony. Toss the bouquet, toss the rice, toddle off.

It was…tradition.

In my wedding, we mixed things up a bit and had the wedding party face the crowd, with the pastor’s back to the audience. (Hey—it was 1990. More radical back then.) The funniest item within our wedding was that one of the bridesmaids was 9 months and 3 days pregnant. A few times she would startle a bit and grab her stomach (as pregnant women do) and every time she did there was an audible “GASP!” in the audience. They figured she would drop the baby right there on stage!

[Ironically enough, the only song I wanted sung was “Sunrise, sunset” because I didn’t want a dry eye in the place. A good wedding is a crying wedding. The song comes from Fiddler on the Roof--a movie about following tradition.]

But our reception violated all kinds of tradition from my family’s point of view. We had…dancing. Before this, a (very) few had been to weddings—such as distant cousins—where dancing occurred. Those cousins were heathens; it was expected of heathen cousins to perform heathen rituals.

This was a…Christian wedding. With dancing? Broke every rule in the book! A Band playing Rock ‘n Roll??!! Wedding party members who had never dared to walk quickly to music for fear of angering God expected to go out on…(I can’t bring myself to say it)…a dance floor?! Many of my father’s Baptist friends were aghast, appalled, and so outraged they only stayed for seconds. And desert. And the cake. But then they showed their moral uprightness and social disdain by leaving immediately afterward.

Humorously, many of my wife’s relatives equally felt a severe breach of tradition as we did not serve alcohol. (Luckily there was a bar adjacent.)

Seems quaint and silly, doesn’t it? 18 years ago what was considered a supreme breach of tradition would now pass without notice. Almost embarrassing to recall how upset people were over such a minor item.

Isn’t that what tradition is? Something we do over and over and over…until we don’t?

What if I told you I would pick out my daughter’s husband? And it would be a choice based upon his family, their position in my society, their wealth, and how it could benefit me? The age, disposition, character of this husband is meaningless. The idea they should “love” each other—preposterous. Marriage is about uniting families to form societal bonds. Not love, or romance, or making a home.

You would (rightly) consider me out-of-my-mind. Yet for 100’s and 100’s and 100’s of years—that was exactly what marriage was. (Tragically, because that was how marriage was performed at the time of Jesus, some Christians believe this system has “divine blessing” and impose it upon their children in our time. Crazy.) It was tradition. It was how marriages were formed.

At some point, one person within this traditional culture went against tradition; decided to do it differently. What we now consider normal and expected would have been NON-normal and UNntraditional.

Polygamy was traditional. Taking captive females as wives was traditional. If an American soldier took two (2) Iraqi females, forcing them to be his wife—we would be shocked. Headlines would scream. Yet 3000 years ago, this would not even cause an eyebrow to rise.

So here’s the thing. I don’t give a flying fuck if “traditional” marriage is one man and one woman. Even if it is—it is time for that tradition to end. There is nothing about “tradition” making an idea sacrosanct. If it was, we would still have slavery, women wouldn’t vote, and schools would be segregated.

There is nothing about “tradition” giving the concept a pass on its correctness. We never are entitled to say, “This is the way we have always done—so that makes it right.” We must always adjust our thinking, re-evaluate our position, and question our long-held belief.

For those using “tradition” as a weapon against homosexual marriage—don’t. Stop cowering behind important-sounding, multi-syllabic words. Stop acting as if you have the higher moral ground because you think the same way as other people. If you want to be against homosexual marriage—lay claim to your true feelings. You don’t like homosexual sex. You don’t. You find it “icky.” Start being the bigoted bastard that you are; not the intellectual, morally-minded protector of all things traditional you want to portray. We aren’t buying it.

In case you can’t tell, I am sick by the passing of Proposition 8. I hope the youth—my children—can change the thinking from the twisted, cobweb-ridden mind of yester-years “tradition.” I hope my grandchildren look back at our generation as an anathema, just like we look back at our slave-owning ancestors.

I don’t give America the “pat on the back” for voting in the token African-American when, at the same time, it denies privileges to another segment of the population.

“Traditional marriage” proponents can bite my shiny metal ass.


  1. Holy cow! As a foreigner (Brit) this is the first I have heard of the lunacy of proposition 8.

    Seems a whole lot like a bunch of people outlawing something they don't like and not actually giving a stuff about traditions except as a hook to hang their bigoted prejudices on.

    So some folk disagree with the concept of same sex marriage? So what - no one is forcing them to go to the weddings are they?

    I have gay friends and I have straight friends. I don't want to know what any of them do in the privacy of heir own homes, but do believe that each and every one of them is entitled to seek and find love in the way they choose.

    Come on California! You can do better than this out-of-date nonsense.

  2. The denial of the right to marry to one arbitrarily chosen group removes marriage from the set of universal human rights. The particulars of everyone's marriage are now subject to the will of the majority: Since its been arbitrarily denied to one group, it can be arbitrarily denied to others.

    Sure, your marriage may have the assent of the majority today. How about tomorrow? How about for your children or grandchildren? Are you childless? Mixed-race? Do you have a heritable genetic defect, even if its a non-expressed recessive? A member of minority religion or no religion? Are you a communist, socialist or member of any minority political party?

    Marriage is no longer a universal human right (at least not in California), which means your right to marry, or your children or grandchildren's right to marry, can now be denied by the majority.

    Californians have eliminated an important protection to your own marriage, and to the marriages of your children. Don't come crying to me when your stupidity comes to bite you in the ass.

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