Illustrates the Need
For a GLBT Center
TO THE EDITOR:
In response to Joanne Beckman's letter to the editor, "Same-Sex Relationships Don't Merit Recognition Given to Heterosexuals" (Dec. 7), we would like to express our dismay at her heterosexist and homophobic disregard for same-sex relationships. Ms. Beckman is correct that at the essence of marriage -- underpinning its legal and social sanction -- is love (and sex) between two people.
However, Ms. Beckman egregiously asserts that those two people can only be male and female. Why isn't it enough that they are both human? If anything, love between people of the same sex is more pure (and more essential) because it defies the social proscription of marriage that heterosexuals often face. Ms. Beckman also insists on making anatomy an issue, stating that marriage's essence is "a unity of the opposite sexes." In so doing, she places greater value on heterosexual intercourse than on any other way of expressing sexuality. Would she say that a heterosexual couple that cannot have intercourse due to disability or old age, or who is childless, experiences a less "sanctified" marriage than other couples?
Ms. Beckman also notes the historical social valuation of heterosexual love over all other forms. This is a value judgment only and not the last word on the many forms that love and passion can take. She also ignores the very real ways in which heterosexual marriages support many negative aspects of our society which tend to benefit men and the advancement of capitalism. In America, heterosexual marriages have a very specific value in the context of capitalism. No doubt a traditional wife has provided a ton of free labor in the establishment and maintenance of heterosexual households. Such free labor is essential to capitalism.
As well, if the "social contribution" of marriage is "a demonstrably natural and protective arrangement for producing and nurturing children," how does she account for the complete lack of safety that far too many children experience in heterosexual-headed families due to abuse, neglect, incest and an astronomical divorce rate?
All of this points to the very real need for a Center for Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender Student Life at UNC. It could go a long way toward educating and confronting members of our community who are ignorant about the realities of queer people's lives and expressions of love. Love between two people, regardless of gender, deserves social and legal recognition simply because it exists. Since Ms. Beckman speaks from a position of heterosexual privilege, it is difficult for her to realize the homophobia inherent in her argument against homosexual marriage. It is our hope that others will take a more open-minded view.