“The merry month of May, so frolic, so gay, and so green,” a verse written hundreds of years ago, might have been penned to describe Europe last month, Ireland and Austria in particular.
Vienna’s Green Party had gotten the green light from its “red” Social Democratic coalition partner to install gay-themed traffic signals in time for the annual “Life Ball” that raises funds for combating AIDS. The founder of the 23 year-old Life Ball, an event that regularly attracts personalities such as Bill Clinton and celebrity drag queens, tearfully announced he had been hiding the fact of his own HIV infection all those years. But Austria’s bearded Austrian transvestite, “Concita Wurst,” winner of last year’s Eurovision song contest, put the Life back in the Ball with a live personification of Austrian Gustav Klimt’s celebrated 1907 “Goldene Adele” painting: Adele with a beard. The bearded transvestite likewise personified another phenomenon: the West’s current identity confusion. The confusion again surfaced the following weekend. As Wurst was passing on the song contest baton to this year’s winner in Vienna, Emerald Isle citizens a continent away were overwhelmingly voting to legalize gay marriages.
The new gay-friendly traffic lights, using figures of hand-holding same-sex couples, were no less confusing. As a native New Yorker, I grew up ignoring pedestrian traffic signals. But years of living in Germanic lands conditioned me to wait for the green. Would I be breaking the law if I were to cross on the green without a partner holding my hand?
More broadly is the confusion about partnerships themselves. As kids, we joked about marriage being an institution, asking who wanted to live in an institution. The arguments for “gay marriages” are generally based on notions of individuals being “equal” under the law. But does this apply to institutions? The common thread behind all this mix-up is the issue of equality. Compared to what the homicidal French Jacobins and Russian Bolsheviks did with the issue in centuries past, the current egalitarian mania regarding homosexual relationships seems relatively harmless.
But it ignores the law of procreation, which is far more than just “settled science,” to use an oxymoron favored by fellow Greenpeace climate change progressives. When tens of thousands of years of trial and error keep producing the same results, it’s fair to conclude that a same-sex-couple will never be able to produce offspring. There’s uniqueness to the male-female relationship that simply can’t be equaled.
Same-sex marriage proponents simply deny the relevance of procreation science to the marriage institution. They propose its radical re-making without even asking why it was originally created. And by so ignoring the issue, they ignore the question of whether other changes in the state’s handling of marriage might better address other radical changes in modern life, and achieve such with a lot less hullabaloo.
Long before Napoleon mandated civil marriage ceremonies in much of Europe, the task was performed and regulated by churches and earlier societal structures. And beyond the spiritual focus of religious institutions, before IRS marital tax deductions and state social security benefits, assignment of paternity based on probability was what marriage was all about. A more harmonious procreation of societies themselves, essential to their continued collective survival, was facilitated by the ceremonial uniting of men and women.
Communities sometimes took prime responsibility for mother and child. But more usually, the father was expected to assume his share of the burden. The “mama baby papa maybe” uncertainty was not completely solved by the marriage relationship. But long before ancient Rome’s “pater est quem nuptiae demonstrant” principle, the husband was automatically recognized as the father, as it continued to be under Common Law’s marital paternity presumption. It was probability theory at work, long before two 17th century Frenchmen began developing the mathematical models used in modern insurance calculations.
DNA science can now eliminate the uncertainty almost entirely. So instead of seeing Ireland’s referendum as a guide to the future, why aren’t we thinking of reversing the Napoleonic usurping of the church’s traditional roles, and allowing religious institutions to continue tending to the spiritual dimension. The state can get out of the marriage business altogether and put to bed a lot of needless controversy.
Renowned 19th century legal historian, Henry Summer Maine, posited that “the movement of progressive societies has hitherto been a movement from status to contract.” With DNA and a type of marriage contract deposited with civil authorities, the rights and obligations of the family can be assured. Paternity probability, quite obviously, will not be an issue in gay unions. But the state’s traditional role in enforcement of contract disputes should satisfy their needs too, if their partnership contracts are accommodated by changed laws regarding taxes, inheritance and other civil issues.
But it’s clear from the militant, in-your-face promotion of homosexual life styles that much more is demanded than this. As with ancient religious dietary laws rooted in practical considerations, and marriage’s spiritual dimension that some too believe has roots in collective concerns about paternity responsibility, there’s a religious fervor among many that has taken the issue from practical fairness to a sacred human right to be “accepted,” even admired.
We have come a long way from 19th century-born British actress Beatrice Campbell’s idea of tolerance toward homosexuals as not caring what they did “as long as they don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses.” Youths and intellectual elites, for whom recognition as being cool or enlightened is an important identity marker, have been persuaded to equate “marriage equality” as evidence of such. And zealots of the creed demand that the churches get on the band wagon too.
US diplomacy is already onboard. I don’t know if any of our diplomats in Vienna, where I live, will literally be hopping on one of the band wagons loaded with colorfully costumed transvestites that have been part of June’s annual Rainbow Parade. It’s becoming the local equivalent of New York and Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day Parade, with rainbow colors rather than green. This year’s 20th annual parade and surrounding activities are expected to rival in attention the gay festivities of the preceding merry month of May. Marines at the embassy doing a salute to the colors will be saluting the stars and stripes hanging slightly above the rainbow flag over the Embassy’s entrance again this June.
One had to see it to believe it. So last year I walked the few blocks from where I live to take a photo, against the protestations of an embassy guard. I wanted to send it to an old army buddy who had tended bar in Manhattan’s Yorkville section after we returned from Vietnam. The tavern, with its authentic Old World atmosphere, was called the “Gay Vienna.” I learned decades later that the place closed because, as a neighboring 2nd Avenue shopkeeper told me, it was attracting a different kind of New World clientele. Being gay just isn’t what it used to be.
In addition to the twin flags and in line with the promotion of diversity, which (except for the intra-marriage kind) is a top American foreign policy priority in less turbulent overseas posts such as Vienna, the new 2015 Gay Vienna is to be honored again with official US participation. Music will be provided by an activist gay American band leader. Last year’s US contribution also involved a “Celebration of LGBT Pride Month” at the US Government’s “Amerika Haus,” with a talk by the US Ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The subject was the “The State of LGBT America Today – 45 Years after Stonewall.” The Ambassador’s own marital state has since changed. His bilateral US ambassador colleague hosted the wedding reception for him and his fellow man.
Vladimir Putin happened to be in Vienna during that June 2014 gay pride month’s festivities. Presumably not for the parties, but because Vienna is the OSCE headquarters and because the Ukraine crisis is of the kind the organization was tailor made to deal with. At any rate, he did not attend our OSCE ambassador’s Amerika Haus lecture on the state of gay US affairs. Putin also missed last month’s Eurovision contest in which a lovely and tastefully dressed young Russian woman — a real one – took second place. Had she instead come in first, the genuine female Russian victor posing alongside the West’s outgoing bearded transvestite would have provided an appealing image for a Russian leader always keen to contrast his county’s solid sense of identity with that of the confused and decadent West.
The image might even have drawn ISIS into an alliance with him. One is tempted to conjure up a western conspiracy plot to thwart such a scary Eurovision scenario.
Gene Tuttle is a retired Foreign Service Officer living in Vienna, Austria.