When Josh Thomson started a hypothetical discussion on his Facebook page about the definition of marriage, I doubt he expected the firestorm of controversy that would erupt from all over the internet. That’s what makes social media so dangerous. People often throw up unfiltered and half baked thoughts, made worse by a 140 character limit or shitty writing skills. Next thing you know, they’ve accidentally compared gay marriage to man on dog marriage and have some serious backtracking to do. Whoops. So here’s Josh’s apology statement:

The statements made by Mr. Thomson were intended to provoke thought on some of the bigger issues that come up when people start to fight not only for equality but for more off-the-wall rights often frowned upon by society.

“I am not against gay rights or gay marriage in anyway,” stated Thomson. “My comments were completely taken out of context by some members of the media and I have since removed them out of respect for anyone who may have been offended. It was not my intention to offend or hurt anyone.”

With organizations fighting for legalized polygamy and the North American Man/Boy Love Association (http://NAMBLA.ORG) fighting for rights of their own, the line between equality and controversy becomes very thin. Mr. Thomson was merely giving extreme examples of very real movements in our country but he in no way meant to isolate the gay community in a negative manner.

It’s that damn MMA media again! Josh may or may not have a thing against the gays, but his hatred of irresponsible sports bloggers is beyond question. But I’m not sure exactly what got taken out of context. It seemed clear to me and everyone else that Josh was arguing against gay marriage from the popular ‘sanctity of marriage’ angle – aka “Whatever will happen to the sacred institution of marriage if we suddenly decide to redefine it so it’s not a man and woman?!?”

This ignores the fact that marriage has been redefined endlessly over the breadth of human history and is defined very differently all over the world to this day. Josh worries men will marry children – too late! Men have regularly married disgustingly young girls throughout history. That must have seemed kinda gross even back in the Middle Ages, because Europeans redefined what an acceptable marriage was by waiting until the girl involved had at least hit puberty. Multiple wives? That shit was the norm forever and still goes on all over the place.

So here’s Josh arguing that we can’t just change what marriage is all about, ignoring the fact that marriage constantly changes. Divorce, considered completely unacceptable a mere hundred years ago, is now commonplace. The French are doing a good job of adding a bit of extra-marital fucking on the side of their relationships, which is just the beginning of the end of the standard monogamous model of marriage.

That last one you could argue isn’t great for the sanctity of marriage, and it’s true that not all developments in this tradition will be positive. But overall, I think we’re moving in the right direction. That man on horse marriage thing was settled long ago. We said neigh. We don’t force or sell children into wedlock any more. Where marriage was once almost a transfer of property, it is now defined by the love shared by the people entering into it.

Getting back to why people got so hot under the collar about all this: perpetuating the “gay marriage hurts traditional marriage” meme isn’t a victimless crime. As the most innocent sounding and least obviously bigoted argument against gay marriage, this canard is one of the last and most powerful barriers keeping gay people from having the right to marry in America. And that has a lot of real world consequences.

There are endless horror stories out there of gay couples dealing with the fallout from not having married status. Partners ejected from hospital bedsides as their loved one dies. Property and fortunes being seized by greedy relatives. Deportation. Discrimination. Actual human misery, perpetuated because of the misguided view that marriage has always been one man and one woman.

Josh may be able to convince himself that his views on traditional marriage don’t actually make him anti-gay. But let’s not pretend that the idea itself doesn’t result in the oppression of gays and the denial of their equal rights. And that’s some bigoted shit right there.