Malta legalizes gay marriage

The island country of Malta today legalized marriage for gay couples.

Damn.

Malta is a strongly Roman Catholic country, yet only one lawmaker out of 67 opposed the same-sex marriage legislation.

The Catholic archbishop was, of course, opposed, and offered one of the most hysterical reasons yet: Carobs are not oranges.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna had opposed the same-sex marriage law, reflecting the church’s longstanding view that marriage can only be between a man and woman.

“I can decide that a carob and an orange should no longer be called by their name,” he said in a homily a few days after parliament started debating the legislation. “But a carob remains a carob and an orange remains an orange. And marriage, whatever the law says, remains an eternal union exclusive to a man and a woman.”

This is huge news. There’s a movement by some of late to poo-poo marriage equality, and suggest that it doesn’t matter, nor does it help people of color in America. It’s a naive argument on its face: gay couples of all colors couldn’t marry before, they can now. It benefits everyone equally.

But there’s a larger issue: the symbolism. Marriage equality is a hugely important culture step that puts the final stake in the heart of homophobia. Now, to stretch the metaphor a bit longer, that doesn’t mean the vampire is going to die anytime soon. It does however mean that he’s toast. You simply cannot defend homophobia, culturally or legally, once gay couples have the right to marry.

Much of the rest of the discrimination we face can be tied to the right to marry (i.e., you discriminate against gays in the workplace because you don’t like who they marry). But culturally it’s just as important. Once gays can marry, you’re per se going to have more visibility of gay marriages. Gay marriages in the paper, gay marriages on TV, gay marriage among your friends and relatives and coworkers. People of all ages and all walks of life are going to start seeing gay marriage, and gay couples, as a normal and ever-present fact of life. That changes the culture, people’s minds, and ultimately the law.

And finally, there’s the psychological aspect to all of this. Many gays grow up thinking they’re broken, bad people. They’re God’s mistake. And that’s why suicide rates are so high in the gay and LGBT communities, especially among young people. It’s hard enough growing up — let alone being LGBT too. When I was a kid, there was no expectation that I’d ever get married. I knew I was gay from the day one. I may not have had a word for it, but I knew. And I also “knew” that I’d never fall in love, and never get married. That was the expectation when I was a little boy. And that seriously messes with a little kid’s head and heart. So the fact that I can now get married, the fact that little boys and girls in America, and Malta, can now hope and dream that some day they too will meet their prince or princess, is a huge step forward.

Marriage is the seminal right we seek. Nothing is more important in the battle for equality.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • Badgerite

    Very well stated, John. As usual.

  • goulo

    Yay! Malta is a real outlier in many ways as European countries go. That even Malta acknowledges marriage equality does seem a good sign indeed.

  • emjayay

    I didn’t exactly know myself, but there was no information then to figure it out. When I did get it to a degree, I thought it was something over at the side that I would be able to ignore or fix. But not to the point of the many guys and girls who got into a straight marriage and kids for various numbers of years. Humans are very social beings and how we think about things is constructed by our life experience.

    Once everyone including kids were watching Will and Grace and all the rest, it’s a whole different thing. Official status of gay marriage is another big step in this, as Jon wrote. if I was a seven or eight year old boy in the US now I would understand a whole lot more of who I am.

    Meanwhile imagine the social paradigm of Middle Eastern and other Arab or Musim (or both) cultures. The insane levels of anti-gayness are a part and parcel of the also absurd levels of patriarchy and sexism. It’s all one social system and world view. If any one of us had maybe a hundred years to watch it might be interesting to see what changes happen there.

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