Look, Q says, handing me the newspaper. It's a picture of two penguins kissing each other.
That's so cute, I say. Further down the page is a picture of two monkeys lounging casually against each other, like a couple at the beach.
They're both boys, Q says, showing me the article. It's entitled "Love That Dares Not Squeak Its Name."
What's-Her-Name and Gypsy are both girls. They're very close as well: What's-Her-Name teaches Gypsy to hunt, and I saw them kiss once, at the bottom of the stairs. I'm all for anyone, of either gender, who can exert a civilizing influence on What's-Her-Name.
So same-sex courting behavior happens among animals, it seems. One pair of male penguins even hatched an egg -- they so longed for a baby that they tried to hatch a rock, taking turns holding it next to their tummies, where penguin eggs are kept warm. So their human friend took pity on them and gave them a fertilized egg: they turned out to be model penguin parents. Sweet.
That's interesting, in view of all the noise about how unnatural and dangerous such things are among humans. IT'S NOT NORMAL!!! people say, truly frightened by it, and I suppose that's true: "normal" is a statistical term, not a moral one, referencing the behavior of the majority of a population, and same-sex courting is a minority behavior. Something may or may not be normal -- we still must make a judgment about whether or not it is good.
So maybe it's not unnatural. Maybe animals are gay sometimes, too. Does that mean it's fine for humans? Not necessarily, but not necessarily not, either. We are simply not going to get out of this controversy without rendering a judgment -- a judgment based, not on statistics and not on animal behavior and not on a biased reading of select scripture passages and not on whether or not our friends disagree with it or our parents warned us against it, but on our own capacity to reason with intellectual rigor, and our own capacity to love and listen.
We're going to have to say exactly how a gay wedding injures a straight marriage, not just assert loudly that it does. Exactly what the injury is. I can't think of one.
We're going to have to say just how it is that the modern nuclear heterosexual family actually is and has always been the eternal foundation of human societies everywhere in every time, the most basic unit of society there has ever been -- but is, at the same time, so tenuous in its hold on us that it might crumble at any moment. Most institutions that basic are pretty tough.
We're going to have to ask ourselves what love looks like, and what a healthy, happy child looks like: is what people are more important than who they are in raising one?
We're going to have to ask ourselves why we are so calm about real threats to the family -- so complacent about the omnipresence of adult alcohol abuse, for instance, and of compulsive spending, both of which doom real families to real suffering every day of the year, all over our country. About the economic pressures on families a paycheck away from homelessness and financial ruin, or already in it. If I thought the American family were in grave danger, it would be from those evils. Not from a gay wedding.
The other animals seem unconcerned about the two penguin daddies, or the lounging male monkeys. Kate certainly couldn't care less about Gypsy and What's-Her-Name, as long as they leave her alone. Each of the cats goes about her business as her personality prompts: Kate pursues her litany of complaints, Gypsy her world of daily discoveries, What-'s-Her-Name her life of petty crime.
That's what we do. We pursue the good things of life as God gives us wisdom to pursue them. We spend the energy we have on the world in which we live. Those of us who care to try to make it a better world. It need not be a homogeneous one. It is enough, if we can do these things. We need not also seek to convert everyone into replicas of ourselves.