After the news of President Obama’s statement on gay marriage hit the airwaves, I never did have time to come back here and write about it. Since then, I have not only seen the overwhelming coverage in the media, but I have also checked around and read some posts written by those of you whose blogs I follow. I haven’t read them all yet, but so far there seems to be a pretty decent consensus that the president made the right move by saying what he did.
I obviously agree with that consensus. I had just posted a couple of days ago that I believed President Obama needed to show some leadership on this issue, and that is precisely what he has done. He could have waited until after the election, hoping to get a second term in office and dealing with it then. He chose instead to make his stand now, despite any political risk he might incur before the election, and I am delighted that he did. I give him full credit where it’s due for showing some backbone and drawing a clear line in the sand between himself and Mitt Romney about gay marriage. His words mean a lot to the LGBT community and those of us who stand with them.
And if you are someone who does not stand with the president on marriage equality (like Mitt Romney or Rush Limbaugh, for example), I think you need to take a little time to think about your position. The truth is, those on the right have got it all wrong.
Let’s round up the most common arguments against gay marriage and see how they stand up to some simple, common sense:
1. The federal government/judicial system shouldn’t overturn the will of the people.
Seriously? We should let the public vote for which rights we can all have? OK, let’s have a vote on whether you’re allowed to keep guns in your house. Let’s vote on your right to go to the church of your choice. Let’s vote about whether you can vote if your IQ is in the single-digits.
Guess what? That’s not how it works (although I really wish we could have some sort of IQ-related voting criteria). Our Founding Fathers knew that the laws of the land would need to grow and change as the country grew and changed. So they were smart enough to plan ahead. Our Constitution – the US Constitution, the one you right-wingers all profess so much love and devotion for – does provide for amendments to be proposed and passed at the federal level, when necessary. And the judicial system, via the Supreme Court, must also intervene and interpret the Constitution, when necessary, in order to ensure that it is being honored. In the case of gay marriage, this Constitutional review and interpretation will certainly be necessary at some point, and probably sooner rather than later. You can’t have state-by-state decisions about this issue. It must be decided definitively on a federal level, eventually. If all 50 states have differing laws and provisions regarding same-sex relationships, then how will we function? And how can the right to marry exist in one state, but not another? That is a direct affront to the idea of “unalienable rights” as written in the Declaration of Independence. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness cannot be available in Vermont and then taken away in New Jersey, just because you’re gay. So spare me the anti-American crap about how the big, bad government’s gonna tyrannize you. If you really wanna talk about governmental tyranny, then you should be disgusted by the idea of any state government telling you that you can’t marry the person you love, or that the marriage that was legal just over the state border is now null and void when you relocate.
2. Marriage is defined as between a man and a woman. Changing that definition would erode the institution of marriage as we know it.
OK, where is it defined as “a man and a woman”? In the Bible? Sorry, that book is not what we use to determine the laws of this country. No holy book is. We are not living in a theocracy. And expanding the definition of marriage to include partnerships between two men, or two women, does nothing to affect any straight person’s marriage out there. I’ve been married 20 years. You think gay people getting hitched is going to make even the slightest difference in my relationship with my husband or my family? Or in your marriage? I don’t think so. Whatever state the institution of marriage is in right now, it’s there because of divorce, adultery, spousal abuse and the Kardashians. Gay people never even had a chance to ruin it – that was already taken care of a while ago, y’all.
3. Legalizing gay marriage will lead to the legalization of pedophilia/bestiality/polygamy/name your scary perversion here.
No, it won’t. That “slippery slope” argument is a crock. Right now, all heterosexual adults have the right to legal marriage with one other consenting adult. The only thing gay marriage would do is give that same exact right, which already exists, to same-sex couples. It is not going to change the scope of marriage as it is currently defined by any great degree. No one is saying that marrying one other consenting adult of your choice, regardless of their gender, also entitles you to marry ten people, or a goat, or a child, or a chair. They cannot be morally or logically equated, and legalizing one will not lead automatically to the legalization of all the others. That is simply absurd.
4. My faith tells me that homosexuality is an abomination. I am obligated to oppose it.
That’s fine. You can oppose it. In your private life, in your public statements, in your lifestyle choices. But you can’t make decisions that affect how other people live their lives. Nobody else is obligated to live by the rules of your religion (see point 2, under “We are not living in a theocracy”. And then click here to find out what theocracy means, if you don’t actually get that word). I went to Catholic school, and I know a bit about religion myself. So allow me to illuminate for a moment:
Christianity is set up like a corporation. A really, really profitable corporation. There is a corporate hierarchy, and it is structured like this – God is the CEO, and He sets the rules for everybody else. He also takes care of hiring and firing. Jesus was the VP, and He came down to the branch office here on Earth to do some recruiting, relay communications form the Boss, and do some hands-on workshops about company policies so that others would (hopefully) follow them. And all y’all who believe in the existence and divine authority of the CEO and the VP are the employees. Now, it’s not your place to do the rulemaking. Nor is it your place to do the hiring and firing. God is your CEO and He will deal with all of that. You can live your faith but you cannot impose it on the world around you. That’s why your God gave His employees free will, starting with the first ones, Adam and Eve. They were OK until that slithery guy from the South Regional office got transferred to their branch, and began tempting them. At that point, God did not try to stop anything that was going to happen, nor did He force anyone to follow His word. He let it go, and then when Adam and Eve were caught breaking the rules, they were fired. That’s how it works, folks. People have to be allowed to choose the paths they take. They cannot be forced. If the boss exists the way you think He does, then He will know when we break His rules. And if there is a possibility of promotion to the Head Office after we shuffle off this mortal coil, then He will decide who gets in, and who gets sent down to the South Regional office instead. That is not your job. Just be a good employee. Model the beliefs you have in your own life, but don’t try to force them down anyone else’s throat, and don’t judge those who don’t conform to them. ‘Kay?
5. Gay people already have civil unions/domestic partnerships. Can’t we just leave it like that and keep the term “marriage” the way it always has been?
Short answer: No.
Longer answer: There is no reason to deny the gay community the opportunity to experience marriage. By deciding that some Americans should be permitted to do so, but not others, you are creating a second-class citizenship for the LGBT community. Remember that “separate but equal” bullshit, back in the days of legal racial segregation? That didn’t work out, did it? And it won’t work out now, either. It is still discriminatory, it is still unconstitutional, and it is still anti-American in every possible way.
And let’s not lose sight of the fact that in most places, those civil unions or domestic partnerships don’t exist. That’s the exact sort of thing that North Carolina specifically voted to ban on Tuesday. There are states all over this nation that would strip even the most basic rights and protections from gay couples. Why shouldn’t two grown-ass adults who are in a committed same-sex relationship have the same legal right to do things all other grown-ass adults in committed relationships do – plan for retirement, visit each other in the hospital and be involved in their partner’s health care decisions, do estate planning or prepare for end-of-life issues? Come to think of it, why can’t they just have the freedom to introduce their spouses as what they really are: husbands or wives, not partners. It’s both a practical matter, and a matter of human dignity. This second-class citizenship, this lesser-than status, which is being decreed by people who have no earthly right to confer it on anyone else, cannot and should not be tolerated or allowed by any real American who values liberty and equality.
We are still a way off from getting where we should be with marriage equality. It seems that this country should be leading the world in being a beacon of tolerance and equality, but we haven’t quite done it yet. Now that President Obama has set an example, let’s hope more people decide to follow it, and then we might get there before too long.
Under The LobsterScope – Religion vs. The Constitution – why are we even debating this?