Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


Gay times at the zoo


Here in November in California the voters accidentally turned married gay couples in the state into an  elite group — by passing a proposition that outlawed gay marriage (thereby restricting marriage to those gay people who were already wed). As a (married) lesbian attorney friend of mine explained, voters, and the state Supreme Court whose previous ruling created the window of time in which same-sex couples were allowed to marry, have in essence created two classes of gay citizen:  those who are (or were) allowed to get married, and those who aren’t. This is not the sort of society that courts have endorsed since the end of segregation, and it’s not the sort that will stand. Or, as some of us put it, if same-sex couples can get married in Iowa, how long can this prohibition stand in California?

What got me thinking about this again today is a story about one of our zoos in California, where a formerly “homosexual” penguin named Harry has thrown over his male lover, the penguin Pepper, for a female. (The zoo where these sexually ambivalent penguins live is, of course, in San Francisco. None of the penguins appear to wear leather.)   This has kicked up an inevitable hoohah:  if in the animal kingdom a gay penguin can switch teams, then perhaps homosexuality is indeed a “lifestyle choice” and not genetically preordained. (Expect to see this argument on the ranting evangelical show of your choice this Sunday.) This is a notion that probably doesn’t sit well with homosexuals.  Click here to read the full story.

My perspective is different. It’s this:  Who cares? Who cares if the penguin is gay or straight or even bi? I can’t imagine a productive way to keep penguins from mating with whatever other penguins they want to. It’s up to them what circles they waddle in; we really have no say. I can’t find any evidence that we’re tampering with homosexual preference anywhere in the animal kingdom — nobody’s segregating the male seahorses that like to sidle up with each other — so why start with the penguins? I don’t care if it’s their genetic implication or if they learned gay behavior from Tennessee Tuxedo. If they want to be gay, by all means, go ahead. And if they want to be straight, more power to them for that, too. In fact, I’m willing to bet these penguins don’t even put gender preference into the mix that way. It’s just a matter of who looks better at the fishing hole that day.

Now, if we can’t patrol gay behavior in animals, and if we aren’t restricting their behavior, why are we doing it with people? If there’s going to be any disparity between people and animals, so long as they do no physical harm to others, shouldn’t people have more freedom than animals?

2 Responses to “Gay times at the zoo”

  1. Joe Says:

    my motto…

    Do whatever it is you do.

  2. Dan Says:

    Could we make a case that the Penguins were committing Sin and God showed them the Right Way? “He marketh the fall of a penguin.”

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