12. Where do Wiccans stand on the controversial topics of our day, such as Same Sex Marriage?

To begin with, Wiccans don't have any kind of formal hierarchy that dictates policy for All the Wiccae, so there is no official Wiccan stance on any topic. Each and every individual Wiccan has to decide these things for herself or himself.

That being said, there is general agreement and consensus among the Wiccans I, personally, know. And I can certainly tell you how I stand on these topics.

For most of us, love is sacred. It's just that simple. Not some kinds of love, between some people, at some times and places; but all love, everywhere.

Same-sex marriage isn't about sex. People can (and do) have sex without being married, all the time. Sex isn't love. In fact, sadly, sex often has nothing to do with love. Sex can be inappropriate, just as it can be used to intimidate, harass, and show power over others.

Marriage, on the other hand, freely entered into by both individuals in a couple, shows their mutual love and commitment to each other. It's an expression of joy, and hope for the future. It's a celebration of life, and a pledge to live for the other person as much as for oneself. It's a profound, public declaration of trust, respect, and loyalty.

It is, as most people worldwide agree, a sacred institution.

Most of us believe that too.

And we know that that depth of love, commitment, joy, hope, unselfishness, trust, respect and loyalty are not limited to any one sexual orientation.

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender people are people. We have the same capacity for love as anyone else. A gay man can fall in love as deeply and profoundly with another man as any woman can, or as any straight man can with a woman. When a lesbian falls in love with a woman, it's as true, and strong, and life-altering as it ever is when a straight woman falls in love with a man, or as a man would fall in love with a woman.

Being in love is being in love. Brain chemistry changes measurably. When we look at the ones we love, certain areas of the brain become more active, while the activity in other areas decreases. These changes are not different for couples based on their orientation. It's the same for everyone.

It's a very deep, human need. It's far greater than the need for sex. (People don't kill themselves because someone refuses to have sex with them.) In fact, there is some evidence that being loved, and loving another, is the deepest human need that there is. People regularly turn their lives upside down to meet that need.

So, since gay and lesbian people do not fall in love with people of the opposite gender, but only with people of their own gender, they are compelled by the very same overwhelming biological forces to form couples and commit to spending their lives together. And they do, and have for many years. When a community, state, or country decides to extend the right of marriage to same-sex couples, many of the couples who are first in line have already been together for decades.

They settle down, make a home together, pay their taxes, and raise their children, just like any other couples. (Yes, raise their children. According to US Census data from 2000, 34.3% of lesbian couples, and 22.3% of gay male couples are raising children. Since the data also shows that the average age of such couples is the mid-forties, I'm guessing that many more couples have grown children, who weren't counted in the census.)

Not allowing these loving, committed families to enjoy the same legal protections and benefits as their heterosexual brothers and sisters is a travesty of justice, and causes death and heartache for thousands. (Yes, death. In this country, health care is pretty much dependent on insurance. Since many same-gender couples cannot include their partners under their insurance, many thousands are left uninsured. So, if a severe health crisis occurs, many don't visit doctors until it's too late, or simply don't go to a doctor at all, choosing to die rather than impoverish their families.)

Allowing the heads of these families to marry, on the other hand, has positive social and health benefits. The incidence of sexually transmitted disease actually has gone down in those countries that allow same-gender marriages. And marriage, as many have pointed out, is a stabilizing influence in society. This is no less true for same-gender marriage than for opposite-gender marriage.

Allowing these families to publicly and legally show their commitment has no negative effects on society. For one thing, even if every single gay or lesbian individual found their "true love", and got married, 90% of all married couples would still be one man, and one woman. That is the majority orientation, and that's not going to change. For another, no church or religious body would be forced to sanctify a marriage that it disapproved of, any more than they are now. Currently, any religious institution can refuse to marry any couple, for any reason; and that wouldn't change either.

It's been more than a year since the state of Massachusetts legalized same-gender marriage, and it has turned out to be a total non-event for everyone except the men and women who can now marry their loves. Society hasn't fallen apart; it's become stronger as more couples are allowed to join as full members. Religion hasn't unraveled. Sexually transmitted diseases haven't increased. None of the fears of the extremists have been realized. It's okay.

So, yes. I, and all the Wiccans I personally know, are in favor of same-gender marriage.

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