By Sy Schechtman

In the Book of Proverbs, in the Hebrew Bible, the author details four things that amaze him ---the flight of the eagle in the sky, the slithering of snake over a rock, a ship homeward bound through high seas, and "how a man has his way with a maiden". The first three mentioned have all puzzled and challenged humanity for lo these many centuries, and our science and technology have managed to successfully produced enough understanding of these "amazements" to enable us to fly and sail the wide world effortlessly, and understand a reptile’s locomotion satisfactorily, even if we are incapable of repeating it, or would wish to! But the man and the maiden and their enduring, alluring, enmeshment, entanglement, joy and frustration are the focus of humanities’ continuing concern. Indeed, some people have given up the struggle to make this male female bonding continually successful, and have opted for same gender bonding, leaving this central pivotal point of emotional and biologic evolution of the human race for the more dynamic and venturesome male and female players and their differing mix of commingling chromosomes and genes that is the normative evolutionary path for the enhancement and strengthening of the human race.

But while only about two or three percent of people are involved in this alternative sexual life style in the over six billion that inhabit our planet now, they still embody a very vocal though tiny minority "me too" constituency. Four or five million previously "in the closet" and decidedly furtive about their sexual orientation, they must now sense that the moment of general approval for their life style has come, and they are clamoring for full rights and privileges legally for gay unions. All benefits and financial aid that accrue to male female bondings—to what we give the somewhat sacred term marriage—must now be rightfully available to same sex union. But when most people cordially agree that this legal status should be rightfully applied to a gay union, then the insistent demand immediately follows that the status of a gay union will only be truly made whole if it is also called a marriage. "Why?" Because, they say that "Gay unions not called marriage will always be denied some or all of the normal perquisites a complete bonding demands".

They are seemingly implying final employment or financial goals but this is really a switch and bait sophistry that tries to hide the real need of the of the homosexual couples, to finally legitimize their status socially in the face of the grudging and somewhat incomplete acceptance they now feel. And this is a vital point in our facile and fluctuating social framework and the status of marriage today. The overwhelming majority of us have come through overwhelming change in social and sexual mores in the last half century. Very few of us have the same conventional viewpoint that we shared a half century ago, with male dominance, much less sexual freedom, followed soon after with the strong growth of feminisim and the empowerment of women and the rapid growth of the two family earners, husband and wife, the rising divorce rate, and the loss of the concept of cherished female virginity until marriage. And most importantly the startling rise in the single parent female household, completely trashing the concept of the out of wedlock ignominy that used to be termed bastardy. And almost as a footnote the growing awareness of same sex attraction and bonding and the gradual emergence of these individuals clamoring for more "me too" rights. True, they are only a small fraction of our populace , but they manage to be very up front, many in the arts and visual media, and very convincing and leading many to greatly overestimate their number by their strategic placement at the right time and place.

But marriage is still defined in people’s minds as a union of man and woman, and also has strong implications for the proper rearing of children. Starting with the ecstasy of the natural sex act itself and the slow nurturing of the fetus within the body of the mother to be, and then the final consummate painful joy of parturition, no human act or process so seals a bond of love between mother and child, makes a young nubile girl a mother, and a somewhat callow but very anxious male a loving and concerned father. The trip down the maternal birth passage is indeed a holy journey from darkness to blinding light, including pain and suffering and then the nurturing love of the new mother. And the prideful joy of the new father. While the same marvelous sustenance is theoretically available to the fatherless new born, the two parent mother and father is still the overwhelming choice of both the individual and society. Not only is the two parent model the more successful financially; the male female partnership in child rearing certainly is the normal, natural, and instinctual path that our biology, physiology and psyche demands for the vast majority of people.

But there are, of course, wide variations from the normal in nature. Since the almost primeval thrust has always been "be fruitful and multiply" in every species, including homo sapiens to a large extent, many versions and variations of sexual procreation have been tried and then discarded. In the basic structure of the cell we have two separate radically different modes of replication; cell division into identical equal parts (mitosis) for tissue growth or repair, or into halves, for mingling with another half to allow for fusion with a partner of the opposite sex (meiosis) and thus allow for the creation of a new person. These basic differing types of fusion has always remained the same in the course of evolution. Going up the evolutionary ladder and with organisms of some complexity, however, we have multicellular and almost microscopic hermaphroditic animals with both the male and female sexual elements for reproduction within each individual animal. Very efficient and economical; not with hundreds of eggs or ova strewn all over the water, or the film of pollen in the air for the hit or miss chance of fertilization. And the source of many annoying or more serious human allergies in our present day. But obviously discarded up the evolutionary ladder as the animal became more complex. Probably the need to spread the fertilizing seed over wider regions doomed the hermaphroditic self fertilizing approach.

Higher up in the evolutionary ladder, on the lower vertebrate level, there is more than crass mechanical instinctual animal biology. In lower vertebrates there are mating dances, exotic plumage in birds, and in lower mammals sensual signals, and provocative scents elaborated. And among the higher mammals, particularly chimpanzees, a large amount of male female mating for life. Culminating at species Homo Sapiens and the adult human multi lobed brain which is "wired" for the highest level of spiritual, intellectual, and esthetic thought and insight---the cerebral cortex—and still retains the snake like medulla oblongata, containing all the primitive survival responses and reactions of his most primitive phylogenetic origins. All in one individual persona of cognitive function and dysfunction mediating and ameliorating the tensions between one’s more basic animal nature and the civilizing thrusts of the higher societal imperatives to channel his sensual drives into the more harmonious simple male female couplings that we call marriage. And away from the multitude of creative and deviant experiences that involved him in anal intercourse—among other exploratory sexual excursions-- with a consenting partner, human or animal, to which we apply those exceedingly negative terms of sodomy, bestiality, or buggery. The absolute biologic negative of anal intercourse seems to be its connection with the spread of the Aids virus, whose lethal effects unquestionably has afflicted the homosexual male population drastically. Besides their aberrant mode of intercourse also implicated is their promiscuity, so called "casual sex", frequent one night encounters with literal strangers of almost unknown backgrounds.

However, homosexuals living in a committed, stable relationship are a credit to a any community and most of us have friends and perhaps members of our own families in such situations. They are, however, on the cusp of the upset societally of the changing mores of the male female relationship, of what once was smilingly termed the "battle of the sexes", and which we hopefully can still smile about. Disturbing symptoms of male dysfunction, or at least confusion of status, however, seem to characterize the actions of a significant number of young or middle aged men. Women seem to outnumber men significantly in current college ranks and even in the higher level graduate professional schools of medicine, dentistry and law; suddenly erectile dysfunction is a big money maker for Pfizer (Viagra), as well as for other companies(Cialis and Levitra). Men seem to be, perhaps, enjoying more frequent sexual performance or more likely are being stressed by the increasing demands of the liberated female for a better performance in bed. In any case gradual diminution in the importance of the male in our society seems to be occurring and perhaps a concomitant increase in male resentment ----and by the many women still heavily invested in the male female bonding and their husbands. For the situation that we still cherish is conventional marriage. It is still much too soon to roil the marital waters again with all the changes and challenges ongoing already . To raise same sex union to the exalted level of the "amazement of the man with the maiden" and the vital "battle of the sexes" and the enduring love and emotional sustenance of parent and child that the term marriage connotes now would at this juncture risk strong backlash, even the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.