Why the Fuss?
(About Same Sex Marriage)
(written Nov. 2003)
HJ 56: Marriage Amendment
(written July 2003)
The So-Called Defense of Marriage Amendment
(written July 2001)
Here we go again, with another attempt to amend the Constitution of the United States to limit marriage to "One Man, One Woman."
The debate hinges on one simple assumption; that it's easy to legally define who is male, and who is female.
But, in fact, it's actually impossible. (Ask the Olympic Committee.)
Roughly 1% of the people born in this country fall outside the normal definition of "male" (XY chromosomes with easily identified male primary and secondary sexual characteristics) or "female" (XX, with primary and secondary sexual characteristics that are clearly feminine.)
These people are "intersexed."
Some of them have extra chromosomes, and are neither XX or XY, but XXY, XYY, or some other combination.
Some have Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome; they look like perfectly normal baby girls when they are born, and grow up like any other little girls, knowing perfectly well that they are girls. But they have XY chromosomes and (as they find out when they don't begin to menstruate) no internal female organs.
Some have "ambiguous genitalia." Their penis is too small or absent altogether, their clitoris is too big, their labial lips are partially fused, their urethra opens at some point along the shaft of the penis, or at its base, and so on.
There are dozens of known diagnosis, and hundreds of "idiopathic" things that can cause people to fall outside the common male/female dichotomy.
"Male or Female" is a human concept.
Biology, however, doesn't pay attention to human concepts.
Whatever legal definition you use for male or female, millions of individuals in this country won't fit into either category, and, if marriage is defined as "one man, one woman" will be left entirely out in the cold; denied the right, not simply to marry the individual they love, but to marry anyone at all.
So, however you feel about the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community, "One Man, One Woman" is a not just a bad idea, but a legal nightmare just waiting to happen.
For more information, please visit the website of the Intersex Society of North America.