There’s been a great deal of passionate argument surfacing around the current debate taking place in the US Supreme Court the last few days regarding the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. In case you have not been following, DOMA specifically excludes same-sex couples from enjoying the same federal marriage benefits as heterosexual couples.
As someone who follows social media, I’ve noticed some especially vehement and irrational proclamations made about homosexuality – some going so far as to make absurd, hyperbolic claims that by socially accepting same-sex marriage and families we will be dooming humanity to a catastrophic demise. If this isn’t just made as a religious argument (oh no, God’s wrath!), then there’s some feeble argument made about how same-sex couples can’t reproduce and eventually everyone will be homosexuals and there will be no more babies. Really now? If you want to make grand, unsubstantiated arguments, I call your hyperbole and raise you a dose of rationality.
They’re completely right – the ruling on DOMA could very well decide the fate of humanity. But here’s my twist: The nonacceptance of homosexual individuals as equals will necessarily doom the human race.
“How’s that?” you ask. Well, there are a few levels to this claim that I don’t believe lack in logic. First, let’s tackle the “breeding” issue. Without pulling out any demographic data or statistical analysis, let’s pose a question to you, the reader: Do you think there are too few people in the world? Do you look over an expanse of untouched American Midwest and think, “Wow, I wish there were noisy people here driving their cars through the McDonald’s drive-through and destroying the local ecology.” I’m going to wager almost no one said “Yes” to my rhetorical questions (and not just because they were rhetorical). As it stands today human life is already horrifically undervalued – why create more, unnecessarily? What value is there in that? Even though people talk about overpopulation in current times as if it’s a fact (it’s a myth – don’t worry, I’ll tackle this one soon enough), it’s illogical to assume that unchecked human reproduction won’t eventually create real overpopulation – though the incredible population boom of the last century won’t likely remain steady, this is a very realistic scenario.
But perhaps the most compelling argument is that of human unity being necessary for human progress, survival even. As overpopulation and other issues make staying on a single planet increasingly dangerous for humanity’s long-term survival, the unavoidable solution becomes obvious: Colonization of non-Earth planets by humans. Does it all sound like some science fiction that’s so far off that it’s not worth consideration? I suggest you review your European colonial history; especially in the instances where Viking communities which reached population capacities that necessitated the colonization of Greenland and North America to avoid unpleasantries like civil unrest and starvation. It’s a fact that if humanity is to survive as more than a brief flicker on the galactic timeline, colonization will need to happen beyond our planet, and not too late.
But this cannot be done in a society which perpetuates structural and social oppression of any of its population. Any one skeptical of humanity’s chances of colonizing other planets has a good reason to be – such an enormous feat can only be accomplished with every human contributing.
Still ignorant enough to object to this claim, believing homosexuals cannot contribute to such an endeavor? Perhaps you’ve never heard of Alan Turing – often credited as the inventor of computer science and artificial intelligence. And he was homosexual. You’ve heard right – your PC is gay. And so is your TV, your microwave, your car, your iPhone, C3PO and R2-D2 – would not exist as they do were it not for a homosexual man.
Alan Turing, a British mathematician working for the government during World War II as a cryptographer (someone who invents and deciphers secret codes, quite handy during a war) who earned special distinction for inventing a method of decrypting the German’s infamous Enigma machines. He later went on to create one of the first programmable computers – very much the precursor to what you’re reading this on right now.
Despite these astounding achievements (dare I say, the most significant technological achievement of the Twentieth Century), Mr. Turing lived in a time of great intolerance – in the 1950s, the United Kingdom still saw homosexuality as a serious, prosecutable crime. Rather that face prison, Turing underwent horrific “treatment” programs, which included chemical castration and electroshock therapy. In the short years that followed Turing poisoned himself, aged only 41. We’ll never know if it was the “therapy” which caused physical brain damage as to induce suicide (not uncommon for recipients of electroshock) or if it was simply despair at living in a society where even their greatest champion is scorned – either way, I think its safe to say that had a man like this been allowed to be himself and had not coerced into an early death, he would have only continued to dazzle us with his brilliance. Who knows where computing would be today, if only we knew not just tolerance, but acceptance.
It’s great individuals like Turing who we will all need to not only see the progress of the human species but its very survival. No, I don’t mean homosexuals – I mean brilliant, innovative individuals.
They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, orientations and beliefs and we need them all, every last one. And this is true now more than ever. We have to decide as a society whether or not we feel that adhering to archaic, destructive ideologies and moralities are worth the cost – especially in this age of uncertainty.
Some would say yes, it’s even worth risking national security over. But others, like myself – and there are more every year – believe that it is better to love than to hate. That progress and peace do not come from persecution and discrimination; that no book, however old, can tell us that another human is worth less than any other. Vigilance and patience – this is what it will take, because such a combination has never failed. The winds of change will erode all who try to obstruct history, and we must be that wind. The fate of humanity may be in the balance.