Monday, October 6, 2008

In Defense of Marriage*



The vice-presidential debates reminded me of one of the few unifying factors between the current republican and democratic campaigns: the refusal to acknowledge gay unions as marriage. Post-debate discussions with my fellow viewers revealed the strong and prevailing sentiment that while gay couples deserve the same civil rights given to straight couples, "marriage" should be reserved exclusively for straight couples. When pressed for reasons, I was offered reasons that included arguments that legalization would lead to the inadvertent sanction of polygamy, devaluation of marriage, and the destruction of "family values". The most confusing, and yet the one with the most support, was the argument that marriage has nothing to do with legislation or the courts, but everything to do with religion.

In that room, I sat with five impassioned and educated adults, who silenced my voice with misinformed beliefs and opinions on gay rights and gay marriage. So I am left with this forum to speak directly to you, you, and all of you who think and believe the way you do, and by so doing have acted the way you have done, and as a result have prevented tax-paying citizens from having the civil and legal rights that you get to enjoy.

To begin, I challenge those that say that marriage has everything to do with religion and nothing to do with the State. Marriage is a CIVIL INSTITUTION where our government accords legal and civil rights on the basis of that status. It is a civil institution wherein your moral and religious ideals should have no place. I ask you, why is it that marriages are not legally recognized in this country without a marriage license? Why is it that your marriage is not legal if not officiated by legally sanctioned officiant? (What? You thought your priest (or applicable religious leader) could willy nilly legally marry anyone they chose without being legally certified? In the eyes of God, yes. In the civil realm, no they cannot.) Examples abound but I shall stop from heading down this rabbit hole of proving a concept that should simply be a "duh."

Do you really think that by imposing your prejudices and phobias upon gay people- I meant to say: When you condescend to allow gay couples "civil unions" while reserving "marriage" for your precious straight couples, do you not really see the harm you're doing? Without the protection of "marriage", you are guaranteeing a sect of second-class tax-paying citizens who are subject to improper or inadequate health care and benefits, lack of rights in child custody scenarios, inheritance issues, social security and pension denials, immigration issues, etc. etc. Or how about the effect on employment, especially for those in the military? Or did you forget the brilliance that is Don't Ask, Don't Tell? Don't you dare tell me that things are coming along and gay people should be happy with the crumbs tossed to them. To date, only two states recognize gay marriage, while eight states and the District of Columbia recognize civil unions which offer varying degrees of the legal rights offered to heterosexual couples. The thing is, no one is asking you to open your churches, your mosques, temples, and prayer houses, to gay people. Nor are they asking you to find the gay lifestyle enticing. It is simply about equality, legal rights and civil rights. Something the United States Constitution guarantees and last I checked (and despite the many attempts of the current administration to whittle it down to a mockery immortalized on crumbling parchment paper), the Constitution of the United States is the ultimate, the absolute and the fundamentals of our laws.

Do not counter my arguments above by throwing your religious convictions or your bible scriptures in my face. My God is your God and OUR God is tolerant and loving. And please do not give me the family values argument or the argument that you romanticize the notion of marriage. In my experience, those who always cite their religious feelings are usually the ones with the most dirt. After all, wasn't it Senator Edwards who claimed his religious beliefs prevented him from supporting gay marriage all while mocking his marriage vows in one seedy motel room after the other. Or the many outed anti-gay legislation members of congress who are caught in compromising homosexual situations. (Larry Craig anyone?)

I am not shallow enough to believe that I can change your mind, but I am arrogant enough to try. Be human, be real. Civil unions are not the same as marriage, either in concept or legally. Fifty years ago we legally struck down the separate but equal doctrine and we began to move away from it. It was abhorrent then and while arguably in a different and more amorphous format, the doctrine should still be abhorrent today. Please listen- your prejudices and phobias have far-reaching negative effects that do not exist in a vacuum. And I swear to you, if you opened your eyes, you will see.


*The views expressed in this blog are solely those of Me. Oogie in no way contributed to the views and opinions expressed herein.

9 comments:

  1. I'm one of those "call it a civil union and let religion sort it out" people. In my defense though, I believe everyone, gay, straight, whatever...should get a "civil union" license and let the individual religions play around with the semantics. I only feel this way because the #1 argument against gay marriage always comes down to religion and if that's how it's going to be, separation of church and state. The government can handle civil unions which gives all couples the appropriate legal and civil rights and let the rabbis, priests and bishops fight over the use of the word 'marriage' in their own denominations. It's kinda how if a person commits suicide, the government still sees them as dead and handles the legal and civil aspect while the catholic church goes over the silliness of whether or not they can have a "proper Catholic burial" (just an example in some cases, I know they don't always do this).

    Overall I think the entire argument is quite stupid. So a gay couple can do everything but use the word 'marriage' and that somehow saves the U.S.'s already low status on the moral authority ladder? Quite ridiculous. But honestly, I'm tired of this topic cluttering up the real issues, so I say dump it off onto religions and let them fight over it.

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  2. your post was extremely well written... you should be a lawyer or something

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  3. Great post, but I did notice that you didn't address the "devaulation of marriage" arguement. I have two arguements to use against that one. First of all, one couple's marriage and what they do within it has no effect on another person's marriage. We don't go around telling straight people that they can't marry because they don't share our religious beliefs and we don't assume that because the guy down the street beats his wife that it is OK to do in our own marriages. Marriage means different things to nearly everyone who is married, we even write our own vows these days. But the fact that Betty Sue pledged A to her Husband doesn't make you do that within your marriage.
    Secondly, straight people don't value marriage much at all any more. We are getting married less and living together more (myself included). We've seen our parents and grandparents divorce, and it is no longer a commitment we want to make. On top of that, those of us who do get married obviously aren't taking it seriously and get divorced as often as not. Seems to me those who are denied the right want it most, and if it is truely a valued institution that we should keep, we should allow the word to evolve to be all inclusive. That doesn't mean we have to allow polygamy, although I really don't see the problem there either. To each his/her own.

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  4. Not A Bigot, I PromiseJuly 12, 2009 at 8:09 AM

    Treating two different things differently on a logical basis does not constitute prejudice. And since marriage has been a heterosexual union from the beginning of time, wouldn't you say that the burden of proof falls overwhelmingly on gay "marriage" proponents to make the case for making such a drastic change? Why should everyone face the ultimatum - "Accept gay marriage or be labelled a bigot", all of a sudden?
    Finally, I hate to bring Religion into the debate, but you brought it up first. As to your point about God being loving and tolerant, the Bible is clear that God is indeed loving, but the word "tolerant" is not what the Bible uses to describe his nature. God isn't tolerant - He is just. He makes laws and judges us based on them. The tolerance argument to me just sounds like a license to do whatever the heck you want - which is just fine if you don't believe in the Bible. So I ask the author, exactly what God do you speak of?

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  5. Here's where you're mistaken: Your views on homosexuality/heterosexuality are not based on logic. In fact, I bet most of your views on life aren't based on logic, and that's okay. If so, you'd be dead by now ("I am alive now. The end result is death. Ergo, I will kill myself")

    The God author of blog speaks of is very likely the God you speak of. It's just that the bible is this great ambiguous book that allows people to pick the parts necessary to advance their motives. In this case, you wish for intolerance, some wish otherwise. Dilemma, dilemma.

    And finally, here is another problem with your reasoning: The idea that homosexuals just want to do whatever the heck they want. So why don't we just make homosexuality a crime and call it a day?

    Simply put, you are against gay marriage (and homosexuality as well, I bet) because it goes against what you believe your religion teaches you. That's all at work here. What this means is you could never reasonably come up with anything to someone outside of your scope, since religion is mostly about faith, not logic. It's why I sometimes empathize with you guys. You are hurt when people label you as bigots or whatever, and then when you try to explain your position, always without fail, it makes no sense from a logical viewpoint.

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  6. Snaps for the kid…

    Anywho, dear Am a bigot, I promise, I have read and reread your rambling response to my post, and I am almost without words in response. Almost.

    My dear, it really is as simple as “accept gay marriage or be labeled a bigot.” Your post above proves exactly that point. Your reasoning for your stance on gay marriage does very little to dispel my automatic categorization of you. And p.s., asking gays to prove why they deserve to be treated as humans? Bigoted.

    Go back and reread my blog. I quote to you “no one is asking you to open your churches, your mosques, temples, and prayer houses, to gay people. Nor are they asking you to find the gay lifestyle enticing. It is simply about equality, legal rights and civil rights.”
    I really really do not care about the views that you are attributing to an amorphous being whose words have been historically twisted and misinterpreted by humans to fit and serve their often malevolent purposes. I simply care about giving civil and legal rights to taxpaying citizens that are their full due. SIMPLE. The “word” of God has been used to justify atrocious acts against various demographics in the past: i.e. SLAVERY, etc. So get the f*ck out of here. Your views on gay people become a different story, but the same script. It is only in retrospect that people are appalled by the atrocities humans have perpetrated on each other, often under the banner of fulfilling the “word” of God. We should have learned our lesson from our past errors and we do not (and should not) have the luxury of according gays the “hindsight is 20-20” treatment.

    Finally, further p.p.s., my dear member of the twist-the-“word”-of-God-to-support-my sick-and-twisted-agenda brigade, Faith just is. Your usage of the “logic” in connection with your religious/spiritual beliefs shows that you just may not quite get it.

    So try again.

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  7. Twist the word of God? Really? You are actually right that people use the word of God to advance messed up agendas. There is no doubt about that. But to argue that the Bible does not speak out clearly on homosexuality is ludicrous. In fact, I prefer not to bring up the Bible when discussing this issue - The blog author brought up the issue of God's "tolerance", and I had to be honest about it. So let's leave off all discussion of the Bible for now. The gay movement believes in making definitive judgments about religious individuals, insisting that all their arguments must be based on their religion, and are therefore invalid. More power to you...

    Now to Piglet, whose comments are an embodiment of everything that will cause a backlash against the gay marriage movement...

    "Asking gays why they deserve to be treated as human beings"...

    I don't know whether you don't see the absurdity of your comments, or whether you just don't care.

    How are gays being treated less than human? What rights does a straight citizen have that a gay citizen does not? Well, I would argue that don't ask don't tell is the closest case to treating individuals unfairly, but how does keeping marriage the way it is infringe on the human and civil rights of gay people? The state protects the rights of individuals and bestows benefits on married couples. Marriage is not a right, It is an institution - and one with a clear definition at that. If a gay man and a gay woman were kept from marrying each other (follow me, please), that would indeed constitute unfair discrimination.

    What gay marriage activists are calling for is a re-definition of marriage - simple. At least admit this much and we'll be on the road to reaching compromise, instead of claiming it is a civil rights issue. The state has clearly shown that the benefits it bestows are based on the fact that the committed union of a man and a woman is the best environment for the upbringing of children and the propagation of society.

    This is why it is illegal in just about every state to marry your sister.

    This is why myself and my best friend cannot claim benefits based on the fact that we love each other in a non-sexual way.

    Clearly, the state has no interest in feelings or sexual love as the basis of marriage. It's interest is the overall good of society by fostering a strong family unit. That's the only possible reason why the state would grant benefits only to heterosexual, married couples. And if that needs to be changed to include homosexual couples, then THAT should be your argument. You should make THAT case, not claim civil and human rights like this is anything remotely comparable to slavery and segregation. Please give me a break. You are not making your case because you are too busy yelling.

    You can scream "bigotry" from the mountain top till you are blue in the face, much like a child throwing a tantrum, but it does not make it so, and personally, my conscience is clear. So extreme gay marriage activists, you really need to go back to the drawing board and come up with a different strategy. If you push the majority to the point where we get as vocal and militant as you are, your movement will be over. I am afraid of this happening, because this is when you will recognize who the real bigots are.

    God help us with all these bigots in power...President Obama, V.P. Biden, Secretary Clinton. What are we ever going to do? Give me a break, people...give me break from the silly tantrums.

    The tyranny of the minority...

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  8. Sigh. I will give you this: At least you didn't mention marrying a goat in your argument.

    I can easily respond to everything you've said, but it's going to turn into endless back-and-forth commenting, and I'm mostly lazy.

    However, I will assure you that you're losing. Gay marriage will happen. It is so simple a fact it's not even worth arguing with you.

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  9. Once Again, Not a bigotJuly 12, 2009 at 9:43 PM

    I have very little doubt that gay marriage will happen eventually - that doesn't mean however that I am losing. Even a constitutional ban on same sex marriage would not be a victory for me because all it would do is make people feel discriminated against and not address the actual problem.

    I don't blame gay marriage ptoponents for seeing some validity to their claims in this environment. Infidelity, Irresponsibility and divorce in heterosexual relationships have wrecked the state of the family today, and there's a good chance we'll see the final nail in the coffin soon. Sadly, no one will take pleasure in saying "I told you so" when we see the negative impact of the decline of marriage on society.

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