Sunday, October 28, 2007

Why Not Marriage for All?

I’ve been meaning to post about this for a few weeks, but with my life a bit crazy right now, this, along with a dozen other tasks, got put on a back burner. Andrew actually pointed to this article on his website and said this about it:


The next generation literally cannot understand the arguments against marriage equality.

And so of course I had to go and read the article myself. It was worth the read, if for no other reason than a boost to the spirits. And believe me, nothing boosts this momma’s spirits more than imagining James Dobson or Pat Robertson reading this young man’s article and realizing that they’ve lost a good portion of this generation of young people to common sense and a sense of fairness:


I’m usually good at understanding the other side of my political positions. That is partly the case because a college education trains you to do it and partly because I’m paid for analysis and commentary. Even if I disagree, I can almost always see something worthwhile in an opposing argument. Which brings me to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s recent veto of a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the state. Maybe I can understand his veto. But general opposition to same-sex marriage is absolutely unintelligible to me. It befuddles me. And the more I try to understand it, the more bewildered I become.

He then goes on to describe Proposition 22 which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, Gavin Newsom’s (mayor of San Francisco) “Way Cool” adventure marrying gay and lesbian couples until the courts shut him down, and San Francisco Assemblymember Mark Leno’s bill to legalize gay marriage, which was subsequently vetoed by the Governator.


He admits he doesn’t have problems understanding the process of it all, but when it comes to substance ----- well ----- that is where he simply does not get it. So he breaks it down into the four arguments as he understands them:


1) The will of the people argument:


There was a proposition, people voted and the results were the results. Superficially that seems to work, but it eludes the substantial question, which is why someone would think that same-sex marriage is a topic on which they ought to be allowed to vote and one that they ought to vote against.

2) Marriage is defined on the basis of child-rearing:


Maybe a mixed-sex couple provides the most stable foundation for raising children, which is why marriage is restricted to them. But that’s factually inaccurate on three counts. First, there’s no compelling evidence for the truth of the statement. Second, that’s an inept description of how the institution of marriage actually functions. We don’t ask for fertility tests before people can marry, nor do we prevent unstable people from marrying and reproducing. Hell, Britney did it. And finally, if that really were the case, don’t you think the government would be much more active in preventing out-of-wedlock births?

3) Marriage has traditionally always been between a man and a woman:


That is, marriage has always been heterosexual so it ought to stay that way. But that’s both descriptively inaccurate and normatively insufficient. Even if we confine the domain of analysis to Western societies, marriage is a highly variable institution.

Both within and amongst faiths the understanding of marriage has changed throughout the centuries. I don’t think we’re requiring dowries anymore. Anyhow, even if something were to be shown to be ancient, that hardly makes it correct. Human sacrifice is really old. Warfare is awfully ancient. Slavery was around for a really long time, too.


4) Gay marriage is considered morally wrong by most religions:


Some churches frown on homosexuality. Well, rock on. I’m not here to tell any faith how to do its job. But, conversely, religion ought not to tell democracy how to do its job. Against gay marriage? All right then, refuse to sanction those unions within your faith community. But religious objections are insufficient to dictate public policy to a pluralistic, secular society.

And after going through all of the arguments in a futile attempt to better understand the other side’s vehement objections to gay marriage, the author is forced to admit that he is still … um … confused:


Sometimes at the end of the column I’ve reached a conclusion. Sometimes I’ve sharpened my understanding. This week, all I can do is throw up my hands. If you have a better argument, I’d love to hear it. But until then, I don’t get it.

Well let me help out a bit here. There is no argument that provides good enough cover for the real reason they object to gay marriage: irrational homophobia. So instead they throw all these stupid arguments out there and hope like hell that one of them sticks. And of course they also have to hope that people are stupid enough to buy at least one of them.


And sadly, some people do buy into it. But if this young man is any indication of what’s to come with this next generation, the Religious Right’s hay days with homophobia and fear-mongering are numbered. Share

1 comment:

Sophia said...

The argument against same sex marriage as I see it is twofold:

1) marriage is a religious sacrament and therefore religion gets to define who it is for, religion in its traditional and conservative forms says its for a man and a woman.

2) marriage exists to create a specific social unit, which has nothing much to do with eros at all. The social unit in question involves the binding of biologically different (and assumed socio-culturally and psychologically different) entities. The dynamic for society of two men joined together or two women joined together is not the same dynamic as a man and a woman joined together. Two men joined together might make something but not a "married" couple persay.

Personally the idea that marriage as it exists today in a world where women can go out to work and do not need to take care of the children is the same thing as marriage in a traditional sense is pretty laughable (which is not to say I reject the validity of marriage as it traditionally existed, just that it is so rare in the modern world that the word has lost its original meaning). From that pov there is no argument against homos having whatever the modern "marriage" is.
But as a member of the younger generation I do understand the arguments against homomarriage.

The argument for it basically comes down to the idea there should be nothing exclusive in society - everyone should be able to have everything if they want it - that is what I do not really understand. I don't think it devalues a gay relationship that there are things in society that it cannot be a part of, and the same goes for the inverse situation - genuinly, I think we should have more exclusivity in society because I think it gives people a sense of place and purpose.

However I understand also that the motives of most people in this topic are "eeew homofagz r makin me confused" and not anything else.