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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • LV Times guest columnist: Responding to State Sen. Fitzgerald's views on family

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  • Perhaps you saw the new "Planet of the Apes" movie and realized, toward the end, the movie’s creators think a lot like Steve Fitzgerald — that families have always been made up of one male, one female, and their children.
    The end of the movie flies in the face of what we know about actual chimpanzee culture because, while the females accept an “alpha” male to father their children, they hedge their bets against who the next alpha male will be by having sex with the single males that always linger around the edges of a community.
    Why? Because creating emotional bonds with those males secures the safety of their offspring since a new alpha male will not kill the babies of the females with whom he has had sex. What the "Planet of the Apes" movie wants us to believe is that the “nuclear” family, which did not truly develop until the Nuclear Age, is the way all families should be.
    Steve Fitzgerald, in his July 3 letter to the editor, made the claim that “some things cannot be redefined into or out of being. They simply are. Marriage is between one man and one woman.”
    Fitzgerald wants us to believe both claims — that we cannot change things, and that one thing he does not want us to change is his idea of marriage.
    Yet he is wrong on both counts.
    Human cultures have evolved over the millennia in many ways, some naturally, some forcefully.
    Most objective anthropologists agree that both archeological evidence and anthropological evidence proves that most ancient cultures began as matriarchies — women gave birth, built the homes their families lived in, created textiles — from pottery (after inventing fire to imitate the hardening of clays they saw occurring naturally after forest fires and volcanic eruptions) to clothing — hunted, gathered, cooked, and cared for their young.
    These efforts were usually communal, with generations of women inheriting the longhouses, the hogans, the tipis, and the adobe homes, as well as the fields they began cultivating.
    Men were “visitors” to the women’s homes, and most cultures allowed a woman to have as many “visitors” as she wanted. All a woman had to do in most of these cultures to make it clear that a “visitor” was no longer welcome was to leave his few belonging outside the door. And, because everyone knew who the mother — the most important family member — was, men were not recognized as family members to anyone but their mothers until later in human history.
    So, Fitzgerald is ignoring thousands of years of history and pre-history to make the claim that marriage is and always has been between one man and one woman.
    Page 2 of 3 - He really should study the early Greek culture — 8,000-3,000 BCE — since he seems to have Western biases anyway. The early Greek culture was still matrilineal, meaning that everyone named themselves as the children of their mother, not of their father, and that women still owned most of the property, which passed to her children, not her husband.
    Early Greek culture is where the idea of marriage took its first drastic turn toward the patriarchy. By the end of the Greek culture, 336 BCE), men were dominating all the social spheres and property, having made women part of their chattel. They could only make this change by brute force. This misogynistic view adopted by the Greeks has continued to color Western concepts of family until recently.
    Ironically, conservatives like Fitzgerald are recreating the old matrilineal cultures in America. Because men are still being told they are the dominant gender simply because they have more brute strength than most women, see Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?” for a different perspective, many men approach relationships with women as though they are in charge, instead of in a cooperative manner, and few women tolerate such brutish behavior anymore. As a result, women are raising their children alone in record numbers.
    What might shock more people than gay marriage is that many women who are not lesbians are living with other women to share household expenses and child rearing. These platonic relationships benefit both women without their having to deal with male egos. According to AARP, four million women 50-plus live in U.S. households with at least two other women who are also 50-plus. While many people might just think this trend is the Golden Girls in real life, statistics show that this trend is expected to rise for both younger women and older women.
    The result is a whole new concept of family and these families are making do without men.
    So, while the nuclear family is fizzling, Fitzgerald balks at the idea of allowing gays and lesbians the right to formally recognize their marital statuses in order to be able to receive benefits heterosexual married couples enjoy — joint insurance benefits from one of their employers, including life insurance and retirement benefits for the surviving spouse, and joint tax filing to name a few. Strangely, he's not truly interested in preserving the nuclear family, he just does not want to allow homosexual ones.
    Ultimately, Fitzgerald asks in his letter how tolerant “will we be in Kansas with those who do not wish to be involved in homosexual marriage?”
    He ignores, of course, that no one is asking him, in particular, to become gay or to be in a homosexual marriage, although his wording indicates he feels that he is.
    Page 3 of 3 - The real question is: how tolerant will Kansans be with those who wish to continue exhibiting prejudices against homosexual marriage?
    The answer: not very.
    Equality is simple. Everyone is treated equally. Treat someone differently because of a bias we hold, and we are discriminating against those people because of our own bias.
    Isn’t it about time for Kansans to allow each other to live our own lives, on our own terms, instead of having to conform to same age-old prejudice?
    After all, individual rights are a keystone to Kansas culture. By denying homosexual marriage, conservatives are stomping on each Kansan's individual rights.

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