Opposite-Sex Sisters

Those of us who don’t support redefining marriage think gender matters.  We think the absence or presence of a man and woman is a relevant difference between relationships and we think our language should reflect that reality.  We think it matters, most significantly, in the lives of children who do best when both their mother and father are present and involved in their lives.  Therefore, having a unique term for a unique relationship seems appropriate.

However, some people find it offensive that anyone would think it is appropriate to use different terms for different relationships simply because the gender of the people involved is different.

If you find yourself in a conversation with someone like that, I think there is a way to help cut through the clutter and help them see the other side of the issue.

How is that you ask?  Ask them if a guy and a girl with the same parents are sisters.

Since I have a sister in real life, I simply ask them if my sister and I are sisters.  It will take them a moment, but after furrowing their brow to contemplate the absurdity of the question, you can see an internal dialogue taking place that I imagine goes something like this:

Well of course your sister and you aren’t sisters.  That’s a pretty stupid question. Not only are you a bigot, you’re a moron too. You’re a guy and she’s a girl.  You’re siblings, not sisters.

At this point the look on their face changes as they have a moment of recognition.

Ooooh, I see what you’re saying.  You’re saying there are other cases in which we distinguish between relationships depending on the gender of the people involved and no one thinks anybody’s civil rights are being violated.  I’ve never thought about that. I don’t suppose I do think a guy and a girl are sisters, they’re siblings.  No one would take it seriously if a guy wanted to be referred to as his sister’s sister. But…maybe some guys really wants to be part of that sisterhood that he sees so many other people enjoying and maybe he’s offended that his relationship with his sister is denied that sisterly recognition simply because of his gender.  No…that’s just weird.  

At this point they’ll probably make eye contact briefly, then look away again.

Goodness, this really is complicated. I wonder if he’ll go away if I say “SEPARATE IS NOT EQUAL” really loud.  If it’s reasonable to use different terms to distinguish between sibling relationships because of the gender of the individuals, why can’t we do that in other kinds of relationships as well? I don’t know. 

Long Pause

I wonder why this guy hates gay people so much.

Many people are sympathetic to the effort to redefine marriage simply because they consider themselves kind people. Most of them would not be likely supportive of any other effort to change our language to eliminate gender differences.  So why are they supporting this one?

For those who are undeterred when confronted with their own logic inconsistencies and insist that there can be no peace on earth until marriage has been redefined,  I will insist that from now on they refer to my sister and I as sisters.

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