Livingstone here. So the issue of Gay Marriage in America is a contentious one. And for members of the Gay Community this challenge has been near and dear to them. Over the last 10 years we have seen a tidal wave of change in America. A mere 10 years ago, 58% of Americans opposed gay marriage and only 28% supported it. For those who are pessimistic, those numbers had to be damning to look at. To change the minds of an entire nation to get support for gay marriage would not only take a Herculean effort, but would require the politicians who are afraid of getting voted out to fall in line.
Now inn 2014, 49% of Americans support Gay Marriage and now only 44% are against. This is one of the most incredible shifts in public opinion in American history. To have Americans change their opinions so dramatically in 10 years is unheard of. Things like civil rights, health care, abortion, have all been generational battles and those battles are still raging on. Yet the Gay Marriage movement’s victory at the national level seems almost like a forgone conclusion.
One community that has been noticeably quiet about this, actually we’ve been quiet about every political issue, are the Freemasons. The secretive order does not engage in politics nor religion. And discussion of issues such as this are banned in lodges. However, Masons have engaged in philosophical debates self-exploration of their identities for centuries. And because of our free thinking and secretive nature, we’ve been able to take on controversial ideas in unrestricted and eclectic ways. And this experience for me has been no different. As I have gone through through the Masonic system, I’ve come to see the gay marriage issue in a unique and complex way.
Quick Disclaimer: As always, no one speaks for Masonry because there is no hierarchy or institutional life long power structure. And each Mason has their own individual opinion about these things anyways.
Without further ado, my reasons for supporting gay marriage.
1. Masonry never addresses the issue of marriage
Masonry doesn’t address the issue of marriage EVER in the ritual. There isn’t anything there about it. But in a smart way it also doesn’t ignore it. Considering it is never brought up, some observers would be quick to point out that Masonry ignores the matter of marriage in general. Far from it. What people fail to realize, is that it’s not Masonry’s job to address marriage at all. What Masonry does is address the moral beliefs of the man who joins and presents a set of moral beliefs that are compatible with his own, but from the perspective of symbols and allegory. The Masonic ritual is concerned with morality on a deeper level. The problem that we run into is that that in modern American society we feel we have to address gay marriage.
This is a common issue in all societies to different degrees. And that is the human need to regulate society and the actions of the people within it. Some people want to have gay marriages as a consenting adults. Others want to own guns. Others want to practice their religion. Others don’t want to practice any religion. And for a variety of reasons people want to choose what is right and wrong and then use the government to create laws based on that right and wrong.
It’s one thing to engage in a discussion of the right and wrong of something and to use logic to change the actions of someone else. It’s entirely something else to enact laws to force what that person can or can’t do.
What Masonry does is that it gives you moral codes but it doesn’t tell you what to do with them. And like Masonry, gay marriage is never addressed in any religious text. Regulating marriage is just another example of people coming to their own interpretation of their value system. And then dictating their values onto others and thus oppressing others. If you feel gay marriage is wrong then you are certainly fair game to express it and converse about it. But banning it is philosophically unsound because no religious text calls for you to do so.
2. Gay marriage isn’t against our moral code
What you say? Blasphemy? You have verses in The Bible, Torah, Quran or other holy book that says otherwise? Well you are certainly right that these individual books each have parts of them that point to the illegitimacy of homosexual behavior. However for this next part, I want you to read what I say carefully. Each word matters.
If your VSL says homosexuality is wrong, what specifically does it mean? Do you mean the lifestyle? Do you mean the love? Is it the actual act of homosexual sex?
Before you get into the specifics, here is something to consider.
As a Mason, I have brothers with beliefs that are far beyond anything I would ever support. I would say some of their other religious beliefs repulse me and are against my Christian values. But Masonry prevents this discussion by banning talk of politics and religion. And it forces the individual Mason to focus on a moral system that interpretively works with his own individual moral system. And then you realize you’re in a lodge room with men who are doing the same as you, except with themselves. And then you soon come to realize that these men, who have very different beliefs then you, are also aligned to these same moral allegories and symbols just like your are. The feeling of mistrust and anger are soon washed away by the understanding that there is a through line through all people. Sure, an individual Mason doesn’t represent their outside community and may not be representative of how others in his community feel. But they are proof that that community has the ability to have a moral alignment with yours.
There are gay Masons. Actually Masonry probably has had many gay men pass through its doors in its long history. By being Masons and being a part of the craft, they are revealing they have a moral code that has an alignment with my moral code. And by peacefully existing together in lodge it shows that quite possibly our different beliefs and lifestyles can co-exist in the outside world.
America was founded by Masons who saw Catholics and Protestants tearing each other apart over religion. But they also saw those Catholics and Protestants coming together in morality in lodge. They soon came to realize that while things seemed dark in Europe, things could be filled with light here. They then came to found America on the experiences they had as Masons. They had proof it could work. If people can come together in lodge because of a moral alignment, why can’t they come together as a nation? The Masons who helped found America reasoned that people were to be trusted. As the Great American Experiment goes forward, if there was one thing we’ve done right and that is to not falter in that ethos. We all have a moral alignment to our fellow human. And that includes the gay women and men who wish to marry.
3. Marriage makes you happy, why deny it?
As I mentioned, there are currently loads of benefits to being married. Tax benefits, policy benefits, legal benefits. The US Government decided a long time ago to allow the laws to support those people that were getting married. Also, some scientists got together and found out that being married is worth $100,000 a year. Also marriage makes you happier, as in it adds another 10 years of happiness to your life then not being married. Not only that, being married is a better increaser of happiness then religion or a six figure salary. So marriage is 20 times more more important to happiness then making lots of money!?
Before I wrote this blog, I was one of those people who was suspicious of marriage and heard the warnings of places like NoMarriage.com. And I wasn’t alone in my reluctance to ever get married. Since 2005, there is a 90% increase in the number of people not married or pushing off marriage. But even though our culture is starting to become less marriage centric…marriage is still good for us. And the studies prove that marriage will give you a sense of happiness like nothing else would.
To deny that element of life to a group of people is asking for trouble. And frankly that element cuts right to a core American ethos. And that is Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Our core mottos as Americans are right in line with what the mission of Gay Marriage proponents want. They want to live, freely, and find the best way to be happy doing it. Marriage is a sure fire way to achieve that happiness.
Joy is something we learn about in our ancient Masonic ritual. For without Joy we will never be nourished and our bodies will wither and our souls will die. Our pursuit of the things that bring us happiness and contentment is a universal human characteristic. In Masonry, each brother works together or individually on their discovery to what Joy means to them. How they express their Joy may not be like how the rest of the world does, but who are we to deny them in their journey to love and happiness. Ultimately as long as their Joy does not infringe on the journeys of others to experience Joy, then why should we step in the way? Marriage is an experience that should be denied to no one. These women and men are seeking out a path to happiness and we should respect their journey.
4. Just because it’s different doesn’t mean it’s bad
Masons are different. There many people out there who see us as immoral and irregular to humanity. There are people who are afraid of how our influence would “corrupt” the world around us. A group of guys performing secretive acts on each other to bring themselves happiness…wait are we talking about gay men or Masons? You get the point.
But seriously though, we look weird on the outside. People can’t understand why we do what we do. But we as Masons know that based on our own experiences that just because something seems strange or odd from the outside, doesn’t mean it’s bad.
There is this belief that homosexuality will corrupt our country. No. Not only will homosexuality NOT corrupt our country, it probably won’t even be a huge deal after a while. The specific act of homosexual sex is not an all encompassing element, but can be very compartmentalized within the individual. Actually a lot of time sex is a very compartmentalized behavior. Just because Bill Clinton couldn’t control himself when it came to sex doesn’t mean he couldn’t control himself when it came to running a country. In fact he was terrific at running the country. Gay men span the spectrum of thought. From gay men who fight in the military to gay men who are pacifists, from gay men who are Republicans to gay men who are Democrats, from gay people who are poor to gay people who are rich, being gay is not one specific identity.
Let’s put it this way. People who like to bang span all spectrums of thought.
A lot of the anti-gay marriage crowd is claiming that people who are trying to make gay marriage legal are using it as a hammer to show that homosexuals are normal in society…is the fucking truth. Yes people who are gay want to be normal. Who doesn’t want to be normal! We as Masons were banned from all sorts of things throughout our history. We weren’t allowed to be private. We were mistrusted because people didn’t know much about it. We were banned from attending church. Banned from being in government. Banned from places of business. And people latched onto those bans as a way to hate us. By the government saying we were bad enough to have legal restrictions put on us, it sent a message to the masses that there must be some truth to their actions. Things that are normal and reasonable aren’t restricted. In today’s society we are normal because society doesn’t restrict us. By having restrictions on gay behavior, we’re sending the message that what they are doing isn’t normal. It’s the classic chicken vs the egg argument. Let’s allow gay marriage and allow them to be normal. For they will never truly be able to prove they are normal unless we allow it.
5. We must work and act, on the level and square our actions
One of the ancient concepts we’re taught about in Masonry is that we must work and act on the level. Now, what the levels means is open to interpretation. But we as Free and Accepted Masons have come to learn that our society is a sacred band of brothers that accepts men and seeks to see them be free in their presence. And we are often reminded that we are on the level with each other. No one is above or below and that. Also we’re taught to square our actions. What does that mean? Here is my interpretation. The square is unchanging and is used by builders to make sure all the points of a structure are the same 90 degrees. Our actions should be the same 90 degrees to each other. As in how we treat one person, we must treat others the very same.
Why should we treat women looking to marry other women and men looking to marry other men differently then we would a heterosexual relationship? If you are truly squaring your actions, then you would create laws that would TREAT ALL CITIZENS THE SAME! To create a double standard creates a society that has flaws in its structure. And these flaws eventually are the weaknesses that can bring down that structure. On in this case, this society. When the storm comes and it always does, the society that is structures uniformly in action will stand strong vs. those societies that have areas that are irregular in design. Also a house not built on the level has a foundation that is morally angled and corrupt. When the storm comes, that society will slide into the sea. For a base tilted to one side or the other will eventually tip forward into the extreme, no matter which angle it aims towards. To make our country and nation stronger, we must have gay men and women on the level with us and we must square our actions with them. They deserve the chance to stand next to us, as equals. And may all of society be treated as such.