Thursday, September 8, 2005

Gay marriage in America

Another chapter in the drama of legislation and gay marriage in the United States of America (or for our Mexican readers Los Estados Unidos del Norte)--
California gay weddings face veto

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has confirmed he will veto a bill endorsing gay marriages.

State legislators voted on Tuesday to allow same-sex marriage in California, but the governor said the decision flew in the face of public opinion.

Five years ago Californians backed a proposition opposing the recognition of gay marriages in other states...

Full Article at BBC WorldNews
Whenever the topic of gay marriage comes up, it seems as if the same arguments pop up in all the editorial pages and on all the talk-radio shows. I found a list of answers to these objections I posted on a message board last year. I thought they might be useful...

Considering Common Objections to Gay Marriage

"Marriage is an ancient instituion that is traditionally between men and women."

Yes, but slavery is an ancient institution as well. Racism is also traditionally built into society. In fact, there are lots of very old, very wrong traditions out there, so being "old" doesn't equate to being "right". If that were true, keep in mind that Hinduism predates Judaism which predates Buddhism which predates Christianity, and archeology indicates that nature/Goddess worship may outdue them all by several thousand years.

"If you allow gay marriage, you allow anything."

No, if you allow gay marriage you allow gay marriage. The law recognizes the prerequesite of "consenting adults" for contracts, which is what we are really discussing here. Hence there is no basis for saying that the precedent set by gay marriage will allow people to marry children or animals. This inane rhetoric is absurd on the face of it.

"If being gay is legitimate because people are born with such preferences, then wouldn't pedophilia be legitimate? Are laws against pedophiles also discriminatory? What if being gay is a choice?"

This is also absurd on the face of it. People can choose to be Buddhist, yet discriminating against a person for being Buddhist (or a Christian, or a Republican, or a Libertarian) is no more or less justified than discriminating by sex, ethnicity, or eye color. People may be born with or acquire any type of proclivity toward certain behavior; yet there is no more rational justification for comparing the potential harm of being gay to the outright harm to non-consenting or consenting juveniles by pedophiles than to comparing the potential harm of being a Type A or Type B personality.

"The founders made this country based on Judeo-Christian principles and those principles say no to homosexual marriage."

Actually, if we take them literally they say "no" to homosexuality period, at least according to some church groups, while others who also claim Judeo-Christian roots are welcoming toward gay people and accepting of gay marriage. But if we want to be literal, then let's also get with the dietary restrictions of Leviticus, justifiable homicide for killing disobedient kids or witches, and whatever else we can find. of course, that is silly. Each tradition must decide what to accept and reject from what went before.

Plus, last time I checked, the Constitution, not the Bible and not the opinion of any particular tradition of Christianity, was used to decide what is or isn't acceptable when it comes to the government of the United States. I can't seem to recall anything that says that one has to believe in or affirm the tenets of a fundmentalist Judeo-Christian tradition in order to be a citizen or to be entitled to the full faith and protection of the Constitution or the government which is sworn to uphold it.

For example, a couple of atheists, or Satanists, or anarchists can get a marriage license. They can be married in a civil ceremony. So long as they are of the opposite sex, their beliefs and lifestyles and who they have sex with is their own business. So to claim that the perceived morality or the professed beliefs of marriage applicants is the issue is false. So is claiming that the lifestyle choices or the sexual partners of those who choose to get married is the issue. A gay man can legally marry a gay woman. In no other area do people ask the the basic protections and freedoms we all enjoy be suspended because of the religious convictions of some of the nation's citizens.

So, What To Do?

There are currently two very popular solutions--one is to make civil unions the legal and social equivalent of marriage. Those who want to be "married" before their deity in their own tradition can do so in a separate religious ceremony. Hence by getting their religion out of government those religionists concerned about their traditons can benefit from the wise and just concept of separating church and state. Those who abhor homosexuality can deny marriage in their church and before their God to gay people for as long as they wish.

The other is to alter the law of the country to actively promote discrimination toward a group of citizens based solely on the religious values of some citizens. However, such laws are highly unlikely to hold up to judicial scrutiny because they inherently violate the spirit and letter of the Constitution. That is why in order to try to make such a radical and unAmerican move the more astute opponents of gay marriage have been trying to to gain momentum for a bill to change the Consitution itself to reintroduce the kind of inequality that was expunged when slavery was abolished.

Think about it. If they can successfully do that to legitimize making homosexuals second-class citizens, they can do it to anyone for any reason.

That is the truly chilling aspect of this debate. Even those who don't like the idea of gay marriage had better open their eyes to where all this can lead, lest someday a secular majority decides to do the same thing to those "poor backward fundies". All of our futures are at stake here.


  1. Cool Post! Thanks. If you have time to read a long screed on these matters, check my document on Same-Sex Marriage. I think the latest version is posted under the Dharma section in the left hand column of the blog. I warn you, it is about 20 pages now, of arguments and responses to arguments. I'm thinking about putting it in pamphlet form and publishing it.

    The common arguments against it that you mention are indeed very weak. There is much confusion over just what is it that government ought to be able to do about this issue. Which to me it means that we need to teach civics again! : ) and compassion. Thanks again!



  2. Yeah, I didn't go into the "natural law" or "extra rights" arguments. Natural law is silly when it is a fact that a certain percentage of many animal groups exhibit explicity homosexual activity (Bonobos for example do such things quite frequently). Of course, rather than admit that this tears down the "natural law" argument, the person making that argument will typically say that "true" natural law was perverted by sin and can only be known by a (selective) reading (and selective interpretation) of the Bible. Moreover, even if one were to show that no other animals engage in homosexual acts, the argument succumbs to the naturalistic fallacy, that what we see in nature always corresponds to being moral or morally correct.


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