The latest in the GOP’s string of insults to gender equality and personal rights comes in the form of an interesting suggestion from Representative Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) . In his speech to the House of Representatives on the Defense of Marriage Act, Congressman Gingrey called upon our country to re-educate youth on traditional gender roles so they can learn “what’s important.” What is important, he argues, is that a father can do some things “maybe a little different, maybe a little bit better than the talents that a mom has.” His full video can be seen here:
Gingrey’s comments are offensive, certainly, but also somewhat unclear. In calling on a retreat to traditional gender roles in this particular context, Gingrey is seemingly urging his colleagues and the public at large to consider that genders are, by their very nature, distinct. However, in terming one gender as “better” than the other in some ways, Gingrey is placing this theoretical debate of gender roles inside of the larger context of gender equality. Women do certain things a certain way. And fathers, they do other things. And they do them better. But he stops just short of saying there is something explicitly wrong with two people of the same gender who want to perform the tasks of both genders. So, in trying not to explicitly offend some people, he inadvertently offends just about everyone.
It is no secret that gay marriage is still a hot-button issue in this country. If it weren’t, this debate would no longer be happening. So it should come as no surprise that individuals who represent large portions of our national population oppose same-sex marriage in the name of traditional values. And that, for better or worse, is their right. If only they wielded that right responsibly.
What is unfortunate is not that there are still people who oppose gay marriage. It’s that instead of saying what they really mean — which in this case would be that two men, or worse, two women, can’t perform parental duties — some individuals attempt to cloak their views in more neutral terminology. They say “Fathers… a little different… a little better.” But is that what they really mean? In this way, they are able to perpetuate their bigotry and their opposition to equal rights for all under the idea that some people are just “different.”