Saturday, November 15, 2008

Okay, I'll do a Post about Marriage Equality.

Apparently, there have been world-wide protests in support of gay marriage rights, inspired by California's unfortunate passing of the proposition 8 ban on gay marriage.

Strangely, this subject is also hugely important to... homophobic religious heterosexuals. In the words of Craig Furguson: I know! Ordinarily, I would expect "gay marriage" to be a "So what? Live and let live" thing, right? Wrong. Here in California, where the months leading up to the Nov. 8th elections produced more letters-to-the-editor of the local newspaper about gay marriage than just about anything else. I would have expected more letters about things like the war(s), or the economy, but nooo. Gay marriage was the big deal of the day with local voters.

Particularly annoying was how those who wanted to ban gay marriage said that gays were forcing their lifestyle on them. Of course, when rebutted with a request to cite an example, they didn't (or couldn't). Their meaning was obvious: simply knowing that homosexuals exist was how it was being forced on them.

I usually added comments to those letters, especially to the smug religious zealots/closet theocrats who are a real pet peeve of mine. They probably thought I was the local gay advocate or something. The truth is, I am the local advocate of keeping government the hell out of my personal life.

It's weird: most people whose opinion I have heard are not opposed to gays having the same marriage rights as anyone else. Yet, the vote results say otherwise. There is a lot of speculation about why that is, but none of it matters to me. I haven't given my opinion on it much, but here it is (itemized for clarity):

It is a civil rights issue. So-called conservatives are now on record as saying they want the government to dictate whom they may marry. That is a dangerous position to take, I think. See, I believe that consenting adults who are legally able to enter into other civil contracts are legally entitled to enter into a marriage contract. By the way, this is why conservatives' ridiculous claim that marriage equality would lead to legalized beastiality, pedophelia, etc., is wrong: We're talking about a legal issue between consenting adults. They are citizens and (usually) taxpayers. Many are even veterans (take that, righty-tighties!). No animal or has the right to vote; nor are they mentally competant to enter into a contract. Human adults, unless found mentally incompetant to understand the meaning of the action, can do so. Incidentally, I couldn't care less about plural marriage. If three or more consenting adults want to form a committed lifelong relationship; an extended family wherein they all benefit, that's fine with me. It's not a choice I would make, but it's not my place to prevent their making that choice, either. Again, I am not talking about something like fundamentalist Mormon arranged plural marriages to child brides. They're a bunch of sick bastards. Consenting Adults, that's the key phrase here.

It is a great vehicle to demonstrate conservative hypocrisy. They claim that one of their most cherished values is freedom from government intervention in their lives. Yet, they always insist that government's role is to dictate the behavior of peoples' most intimate relationships, like marriage. The truth is, conservatives do want government intervention in peoples' lives. They just don't want to pay taxes, obey labor laws or environmental regulations, etc. They claim to be God's chosen, but the god they worship is the almighty dollar.

Last, here is the main distinction between me and the ban-gay-marriage crowd: I draw a distinct difference between religious marriage and legal marriage. I beleive they are two completely separate things. Churches can impose whatever rules upon their members they want, but those rules are only valid for those church members. Legal marriage, on the other hand, is for all citizens, whatever their religion or lack thereof; it is required to accomodate everyone to whom all other laws apply.

For a group of religious zealots to deny civil rights to other citizens, based on religious values, is completely anti-American and just plain wrong.

Maybe someday those who would deny others' civil rights will find themselves on the other side of an issue of equal importance to them, where they are denied their civil rights because they don't conform to the majority mold. Maybe then they'll understand what Thomas Jefferson meant when he wrote:
"All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression."
He also is attributed with this one:
"A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."
In other words, Majority rule does not give the majority the right to oppress the minority. So, the protesters are correct in fighting for their civil rights. Hopefully, for all our sakes, equal rights will prevail.

7 comments:

c2 said...

What about a man marrying his eight sons and daughters on each of their eighteenth birthdays? An extreme example I know, but this is the main problem most people have with redefining marriage and giving rights to whomever. What about the man who wants to marry himself for the tax benefits? Will the streets be full of celebrity protesters for that guy? I don't think most people care about gay marriage because of Biblical reasons, I think they fear Greek mythological consequences: Pandora's Box.

SheaNC said...

c2: Parent-child incestuous unions, as described in your example, are generally considered repugnant (and they are by me as well). However, I have to stand by my conviction that if the adult parties consent, I do not, in theory, oppose their right to do so. I think it is the wrong thing to do, but it is not my right to stop them. Keep in mind, however, they should not be allowed to reproduce, as it presents a danger to others by introducing genetic material into the gene pool that is predisposed to birth defects. It's like responsible gun ownership: you can own one, but you can't fire it into a crowd at random.

As for the fellow marrying himself for tax purposes, that would be no more legally valid than someone who unsuccessfully attempts suicide being procescuted for attempted murder of themself.

I didn't say that people are concerned for biblical reasons, but for religious reasons: religions that don't use the Bible are also involved.

One thing your comment demonstrates, however, is the way people most often use extreme scenarios as examples of problematic results of equal-rights marriage. Most opponents of gay marriage, by my observation, either cite their interpretation of "God's Law" or they present the bestiality/pedophile scenarios.

c2 said...

I never said I was against gay marriage and, in fact, I am not. I'm simply theorizing about why people are against it.

I also never said anything about bestiality or pedophilia, so I'm not sure how my comment demonstrates those extreme examples. I agree that those are not the same as gay marriage and should not be paralleled.

I appreciate you conceding your theoretical non-opposition to my example about the father and children, even though you think it's repugnant; however, would you vote to overturn the law that banned it if given the choice? Probably not. Well, that's how a lot of people feel about homosexuality. Is your repugnance more justified than theirs just because it's more extreme? (We're still talking consenting adults here.) Fifty years ago this discussion would be ludicrous because of the general "repugnance" people had towards gays.

It's also interesting that you think people who may not be genetically compatible should not be allowed to reproduce. That would eliminate millions of combinations of unions for not being "responsible". Are you sure you want to go there? What if parents have a 50/50 chance of having a sickle-cell child? No go? What about heart defects? Deafness? Autism?

Be careful your justifications for being against something.

SheaNC said...

"I never said I was against gay marriage and, in fact, I am not. I'm simply theorizing about why people are against it."

Understood, although I didn't actually say you were an opponent or a proponent, I only said "Most opponents of gay marriage". Anyway, I'll proceed knowing your position as stated :)

"I also never said anything about bestiality or pedophilia, so I'm not sure how my comment demonstrates those extreme examples."

My point in citing those examples was to point out that discussions of marriage equality always seem to employ one or both of the secenarios; religion or extreme examples. I think the examples of a man marrying his children as they reach legal age, or a man marrying himself, are extreme examples too. Opponents to marriage equality usually imply that those things would become frequent or normalized, but I think those things would remain so infrequent and isolated as to be insignificant in the discussion as a whole.

"would you vote to overturn the law [about the repugnant stuff] that banned it if given the choice?"

You know, I don't even know if incestuous marriage is actually illegal, since there is a long-standing oppostion to it in western culture, it may have been so assumed to be wrong that no one bothered to make it a law. But anything is possible I suppose, so if such a law exists, and it was challenged, and it was put to a vote, then I would have to vote that consenting adults can enter into that contract. However, the only reason the father would have for marrying his children is to bypass laws against incest: All the other reasons, such as legal rights of next of kin, etc., are already covered by their status as his children; and he can further specify those details with a living will. The only reason left for them is the sex. Again, that is such an unrealistic and extreme scenario that it isn't relevant to the gay marriage issue. Such things are better addressed on an individual basis, rather than enact a sweeping ban against two gay people's right to marry.

"Well, that's how a lot of people feel about homosexuality. Is your repugnance more justified than theirs just because it's more extreme?"

My repugnance is not more justified than theirs, but here is the difference: I am not want to pass laws to deny people's civil rights just because their lifestyle is repugnant to me. If those people you describe find homosexuality repugnant, then they should not engage in it. If they're against gay marriage, then they shouldn't marry gays. But it is absolutely wrong for them to force others, through legislation, to conform to their values. That is oppression.

Keep in mind that I am talking about marriage rights here because it is an issue that does no harm to others (in spite of opponents' wacked-out claims about "protecting" marriage). I am not advocating freedom to do harm to others. I mention this because this discussion often leads to the question of whether I believe people have the right to do this or that other thing that can be shown to be harmful. Just talking marriage here.

"Fifty years ago this discussion would be ludicrous because of the general "repugnance" people had towards gays."

Yes, and if you cite past popular views, you have popular support for slavery, and against interracial marriage, and for witch-burning, and for mutlilation as a form of justice. Progressives seek to rise above those things to ensure everyone's civil rights. Do we make mistakes? Sure, but the philosophy is still true, so we can correct mistakes and continue striving for perfection.

"Are you sure you want to go there? What if parents have a 50/50 chance of having a sickle-cell child? No go? What about heart defects? Deafness? Autism?

No I do not want to go there, but I have to because it is part of the discussion. So, to answer your question: A 50/50 risk is worth taking. I am firmly opposed to eugenics. But my limited understanding of the risk surrounding a woman giving birth to her father's child, or a mother giving birth to her son's child, is that it presents such a high risk that it is better if they do not produce offspring. But that leads to a discussion of reproductive rights; I prefer this discussion to remain focused on marriage rights.

"Be careful your justifications for being against something."

I always am. Back atcha. Tell those people who fear the man marrying himself for tax purposes that it is probably included in Bush's tax cut proposals as a loophole :)

nunya said...

Awesome Jefferson quote :)

krazykatlady said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
krazykatlady said...

Perfectly said! (with only a couple typos) ;)