Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Should Two Left-handed People Be Permitted to Marry?

The Catholic theologian James Alison and others have frequently made the point that there are many parallels between left -handedness and homosexuality. Both occur entirely naturally in a small but significant minority of people, both are entirely non-pathological - and both have historically been treated with suspicion and condemnation, including condemnation in the name of religion. The world has moved on from branding left-handedness as sinister, and no longer says to people who are naturally left-handed that "It's OK to be left-handed, just don't write left - handed": but that's an exact counterpart of what the Catholic Church says to its gay and lesbian Catholics: "It's not a sin to be gay, but it is a grave sin to do gay".
left and right handed scissors 
Think of it this way. There is a distinction between left-handedness and the act of writing left-handedly. For most of us the distinction remains exactly that, and has no moral consequences. We would understand that a left-handed person forced to write right-handedly owing, say, to having their left arm in a plaster cast, or a right-handed person forced to write left-handedly for analogous reasons, would, with some difficulty, be able to learn to do so. These people would in some sense be acting “contra natura”. But the use of the hand appropriate to their handedness would be entirely unremarkable, and if we used words to describe it at all, they would be words like “typical” or “natural”. Now, imagine that, involved in a Catholic discussion, you find yourself addressing a left-handed person. You say: “Any left-handed writing you do is intrinsically wrong; and in fact the inclination we call left-handedness must be considered objectively disordered.” The only justification for using the distinctions in this way is if you have received, from quite other sources, the sure knowledge that right-handedness is normative to the human condition, anything else being some sort of defect from that norm, and yet you don’t want entirely to condemn the person who has a more or less strong tendency to left-handed writing.
Left-handedness would seem to be irrelevant to modern political discussion, but this symmetry between it and homoerotic orientation has suddenly and unexpectedly become an entertaining sideshow in marriage politics, New Hampshire.
The state legislature is set to vote later today on a measure to repeal the marriage equality provisions that were put in place in 2009:
Only 10-15% of the world’s population is left-handed (jeez, isn’t that around the same as is homosexual?). Because of the preponderance of right-handed people, a left-handed child in school may have difficulty being properly taught such skills as writing, although schools are supposed to have support for such special needs… and then this perfectly normal left-handed child winds up being a “special needs kid” and the target of bullies.
If two left-handed people marry, the probability is that 50% of their children will also be left-handed. By banning marriage between two lefties, New Hampshire would be reducing the burden on its educational system to deal with these children, plus avoid the stresses of being a lefty in a righty’s world for said hypothetical children.
-quoted at Lezgetreal, original source not stated

This is obviously a tongue in cheek parody of the arguments against gay marriage, not a genuine interest in limiting marriage, but note that it is a Republican legislator who has proposed it. Similarly, while the NOM has once again promised $250 000 in funding support for legislators who vote for repeal, another bunch of voters, the Republican "New Hampshire Republicans of Freedom and Equality" PAC is raising money to back Republicans who vote to keep it.
Behind the scenes, there has been strong resistance from libertarian - leaning Republicans against even bringing this to vote. Even some of those who voted against marriage equality the first time around, and who remain opposed in principle, now say that they are not in favour of changing the law now. With strong  opposition within its own ranks, the Republican cause for repeal cannot survive.
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