Last Wednesday night I attended the community ballot issues discussion at the downtown Tacoma Public Library. It was an informative session. Initiative Measure 1033 (everybody now: when I say, “Tim Eyman,” you say, “Taxes booga booga!”) didn’t seem to receive too much support. No one supporting it was available (read: they didn’t have enough manpower) to speak on the panel, and attending voters were more concerned with asking clarification questions about it than debating its merits. The Pierce County Charter Amendments got lopsided discussion toward Charter 3, which would eliminate instant runoff voting and restore the two-party primary system. Even Alex Hays, providing the supporting argument for Charters 1 and 2, spent the balance of his time arguing for Charter 3. (As a side note, after the event I went up to speak to Mr. Hays about whether moving elections to odd-numbered years would cost more money. He’s of the opinion it would not. While we discussed this, another voter came up and asked what we were talking about. Mr. Hays turned to him and said, “Oh, we’re talking about how IRV is a waste of money.” I exclaimed, “What? That’s not what we were talking about at all!” I’m not sure why he thought I wouldn’t notice him lying.) But only the most dedicated of the audience stuck around for the Pierce County Charter Amendment discussion. Clearly the issue of the night was Referendum 71.
Laurie Jinkins provided admirable arguments to approved Ref. 71. However, she had clearly been instructed not to say that domestic partnerships are in any way equivalent to marriage, nor will they lead to marriage, nor that approving Ref. 71 will ever, on its own momentum, lead to marriage. A voter asked (I paraphrase, but she was pretty explicit), “If I give you my vote on this, will you then use that to legalize same-sex marriage?” Ms. Jinkins hemmed and hawed at this, varying between “Who, me personally? I will support all families!” and “I can’t speak for the future, but this law provides important benefits to all families now!” She used “families” a lot. This whole strategy came off as extremely weasily, and is one of the most immature and tiring aspects of politics. Her opponent, Mr. Steven O’Ban, was absolutely correct when he pointed out that people who support gay rights see this as just one more step to full legal equality – that is, probably, eventually using the term “marriage.” By attempting to sidestep what is actually true with emotional buzzwords, Ms. Jinkins lost some of her authority to at least one of her supporters (me). What is the point of denying what is obvious to everyone, true, and not merely a disingenuous slippery slope argument from the opposition? It’s not like anyone is going to be tricked by this strategy. “Oh, she didn’t answer the question, so this must exclusively be about families!”
Mr. O’Ban’s arguments against approving Ref. 71 pretty much rested on fear of the government and backwards theories on gender in the family. We all know it: if this passes, it’s government intervention in homes! (As though anyone would somehow be compelled to change their sexual or romantic feelings.) It’s government sanction of nontraditional relationships! (So? And that’s if you agree that recognition equals sanction, which I do not.) If there’s not one dude and one lady with rings running the child-raising show, the children will suffer! (Actually, poverty is the primary cause of all children’s suffering, due to its features of instability, lack of essentials, discrimination, lack of social safety networks, etc. Having same-sex parents raise a kid won’t automatically instill the kid with deviant gender ideas, and even if it does, again I ask, “So?” It’s only a problem if you somehow think morality is related to “proper” gender roles, and that people without these are somehow morally inferior. This is an arrogant, self-centered, righteous value judgment.)
Mr. O’Ban also seemed to think the “purpose” of marriage was to produce kids. Well, it was, but it’s been a state-sanctioned expression of mutual love and support for a few decades now. Join the modern era, sir. At least don’t be a hypocrite about it; not that I know anything about the man, but I speculate, based on my understanding of American culture, that his own marriage is based first and foremost on love and mutual respect, not baby-makin’.
Speaking of speculation, one voter got up and ranted (in part) about the dire danger bisexuals posed to children. Oh Noes! European bisexuals, apparently, are arguing for an extension of marriage to include one bisexual plus one man plus one woman. There’s that slippery slope again – except this time, it’s false. The vast majority of people prefer monogamous relationships and are uneasy with the idea of extending marriage to more than two people. Even bisexuals. Even Europeans. Well, the gist of this fellow’s argument appeared to be the assumption that bisexuals would decay the moral fiber of children and make the government do this also. Mr. O’Ban picked up this train of thought, and while I don’t remember his exact statements, they were something along the same lines.
I went up to the microphone to ask Mr. O’Ban a question on why same-sex marriage is a big deal (answer above). But first, I delivered the following statement: “Let me clear up the record on bisexuals. My name is Glynnis Kirchmeier. I am a bisexual woman, and let me say that bisexuality is no barrier to monogamy.” I should know.
Bisexuals are the new homosexuals. Homosexuals, bigots argued originally, are wild creatures of lust whose very nature chafes against the restrictions of monogamy. Legions of dedicated, loving, monogamous same-sex partners (including Ms. Jinkins) have apparently proved that wrong, or at least made the argument too awkward and upsetting to debate. (“Oh, so I’ve been cheating on my same-sex partner for thirty years? News to me!”) However, bisexuals are still rhetorically open to the fears about rampant, uncontrollable sexuality the bigoted religions have. The argument proceeds from the assumption that bisexuality means that a person may only be fulfilled sexually by having partners of both sexes. It assumes, like the argument against homosexuality, that bisexuality is a conscious choice rather than inherent wiring, and that therefore bisexuals are people who choose not to control licentious sexual behavior. They’ll fuck anything, and since pleasurable sex and marriage have nothing to do with each other (in the sex-phobic religious worldview), it is impossible to approve of their relationships in marriage. However, there’s nothing about bisexuality – real, actual bisexuality, the way that real people feel it and live it – that assumes sexual fulfillment can only happen with multiply gendered partners. In reality, most bisexuals, whether they are with women or men, prefer monogamy. Bisexuality isn’t a deficiency, a symptom to be treated with promiscuous sex, but rather a capacity to be aroused by and love more kinds of people. To say that bisexuals cannot be fulfilled by one partner is to imply that heterosexuals and homosexuals are therefore always satisfied by their partners. This is not true; the willingness of considerate partners to satisfy and indulge fantasies is what creates satisfaction. Plus, there’s always porn and masturbation. The bigots assume that they know more about the behaviors and desires of these bisexual boogeymen than the real people know about themselves.
*The opinions expressed here are of the author only. The Melon does not support or endorse any candidates, charter amendment, referendum, or political initiative.
Image courtesy of http://www.voteyes71.com/.