Gay Marriage

I was thinking about gay marriage a bit today. It seems to be the hot button issue of the last 4 years or so. When the Republicans needed to get George W. Bush reelected despite a low approval rating, their most powerful tactic (and the one that may ultimately have worked) was putting anti-gay marriage amendments on the ballot to drive the religious right to the polls.

Gay marriage is clearly the new abortion, the topic separating the red half of the nation from the blue. It seems that the social conservatives are more or less admitting defeat on abortion, at least as far as ballots are concerned, and moving on. They know they can’t do much about it other than to hope they can keep electing Presidents until they’ve stacked the Supreme Court in their favor, but that’s too long-term a plan to make much difference at the polls. So they had to go digging for another hobgoblin, and lo and behold, Massachusetts and then California dropped it into their lap.

When you really think about it, you realize that something like 95% of the population doesn’t have a vested interest in the outcome, so it’s clear that it isn’t the issue itself that’s bringing people to the voting booths. At least with abortion, there was a clear rationale for wanting it to be illegal. Many of us disagree with the premise (that life begins at some definable point, such as conception) and prefer to err on the side of civil liberties, but at least we can sort of understand where the opposing side is coming from. They believe, for whatever reason, that a fetus is still a human, and therefore abortion is murder, and that our government has a responsibility to protect unborn babies from murder just as they do born ones. Again, many of us may disagree, but we get the argument.

Not so with gay marriage really. The actual issue is a little esoteric, because it’s always being danced around. Separation of church and state forces those in favor of such amendments to come up with some justification beyond “The Bible says so” for outlawing it, but the ones they come up with are flimsy and weak, obviously a ruse to hide some deeper motivations.

The first of the big two justifications is that “marriage is between a man and a woman”, which is really nothing more than semantics. A lot of people say they’re ok with gay people having “civil unions”, which are just marriages but called something different, which essentially means they want the government to take over Merriam Webster’s job of defining words.

The second is that we need to “protect the institution of marriage.” That’s such bullshit that even most of the social conservatives I’ve talked to laugh at it. We have a 50% failure rate for first marriages, which climbs to 67% and 74% for the second and third, respectively. Any “institution” that fails more often than not doesn’t need protection, it needs life support. And nobody but Pat Buchanan could possibly blame gay people for the current state of affairs there.

So what it really comes down to, what really drives people to the polls to vote one way or the other, is epistemology. What we’re voting on isn’t whether or not gay people should be able to file a joint tax return. It’s whether we’re going to make our decisions based on science and reason or religion and fear of what we don’t understand.

As Bill Maher said in the first video from my recent post:

“It is two Americas. There’s like a progressive European nation that a lot of us live in, or would like to live in, and it’s being strangled by the Sarah Palins of the world. It can’t quite be born because this other stupid redneck nation won’t allow it.”

It’s pretty clear which nation I’d like to live in, of course. My heart lies with science. And scientists say that homosexuality isn’t a choice but rather a genetic disposition. And therefore, it cannot be wrong, any more than being tall or having brown hair can. (Science also says that there isn’t a black and white distinction between homo and heterosexuality as we tend to view it, but rather it’s a continuum and we’re all some shade of grey, but that’s beside the point I suppose.)

So that’s why I could never pull the lever for a candidate who was opposed to gay marriage. It isn’t because I care one way or the other about the outcome. It doesn’t really affect me either way. I only know a few gay people, and they don’t really seem to care. What does affect me is having leaders who base their decisions on 2,000 year old mistranslated folk stories, and irrational fears that if we let gay people be openly so, our moral fabric will somehow be ripped to shreds.

It’s a bad epistemology, and it’s one that’s threatening the very future of our country. It’s what’s allowing the redneck half to hold the progressive half back. And it’s why I find myself so often voting for a party that I consider the lesser, by far, of two evils, and lamenting that there hasn’t been a truly conservative candidate on the ballot since 1964. And don’t say Reagan or I’ll punch you in the teeth.

So the question is, where do we go from here? I really don’t know. I don’t see much of a way out of our current predicament beyond education, and that’s nearly non-existent in the red half of the nation. The differences in average wealth and education between the red and blue states are astounding, and it’s not a coincidence. It all goes back to the epistemology.

But the very policies of those kept in power by the religious right keep their base poor and uneducated. Our nation is already a statistical outlier in terms of religion, but it’s also very young, and it can’t stay that way forever. Nothing ever does. In the end, science and reason always have their way. It’s just a matter of time.

Perhaps if the progressive half of our nation wants the redneck half to allow it to be born, it should focus on educating them. Fear and religion are both predicated on ignorance. Maybe we should be donating to their schools and scholarship funds. Surely there are loads of intelligent people even in those states, give them the tools they need to stamp out fear and ignorance through education. It sounds a little counterintuitive to give money to the very people who are preventing you from fixing our nation, but it might build a progressive dynasty.

Or maybe not.

11 Responses to “Gay Marriage”

  1. Both candidates are opposed to gay marriage, bro.

  2. mattmaroon Says:

    True, which I donâ??t care for, but Obama is at least for civil unions.

  3. Matt, on the topic that people are okay with civil unions, but they don't want it called a “marriage”, you know that works both ways, right? Your point is that it's the same thing — so if that's true, why does the gay community fight for the term “marriage” instead? According to you, it's just semantics and should not matter, right? They already won the important part: The joint return and all the other benefits heterosexual civil unions enjoy.

    They say 10% of the population is gay, right? So by definition, homosexuals are sexual deviants (they deviate from the norm). I believe the goal is to convince the world and themselves that the gay lifestyle is completely normal. That is why semantics is important. So what you are seeing here is that people are basically saying that civil unions are just and fair in the name of equality, but the same people don't want to hear that the gay lifestyle is as normal and ultimately as acceptable as a straight one. There's no doubt a young gay person goes through a lot of anguish as they try to grasp their orientation, and words like “marriage” may ultimately be cathartic just to accept themselves.

    It's just a theory, but next time ask yourself why a gay person is insisting on the word “marriage” when a civil union gives them all the rights they were seeking. If it was only a word, they wouldn't care, right?

  4. mattmaroon Says:

    Because it's the separate but equal doctrine all over again. I think that's why they object to it.

    Being in a minority does not make you a deviant.

  5. Tom Davis Says:

    Speaking of semantics, I wonder how many people would read this and assume “ignorant” means “stupid” and now think you're a liberal elitist.

  6. de·vi·ant
    adj. Differing from a norm or from the accepted standards of a society.
    n. One that differs from a norm, especially a person whose behavior and attitudes differ from accepted social standards.
    (American Heritage Dictionary)

    It looks like there is two parts to the definition. Besides simply “being in the minority” (not quite the same as deviating), to be a deviant your behavior has to be outside society's definition of what is acceptable. While the behavior has not changed, the attitude of society as a whole has changed. This, of course, is the main objective of the gay movement and they've largely succeeded.

    However, Matt, you recently took great pride in announcing that you are a guy that thinks scientifically. Look at this from a biological and evolutionary point of view. There is no apparent benefit to the species for its members to engage in this type of sexual behavior, acceptable or not. It's like a programming glitch. I know we're all politically correct nowadays and you can't call a spade a spade anymore, but come on! No, being gay isn't the same as being a child molester or engaging in incest, but it is technically a deviation.

    That said, it only pertains to the discussion to help understand why people accept and support civil unions, but object to calling them marriages. Our equality should be protected — I am not sure where it says we all have to be merged. What's wrong with separate?

  7. mattmaroon Says:

    It's not a glitch because it's not black or white. You're not straight or gay, everyone is some shade of gray in between.

    It's also a behavior that occurs amongst almost all mammals. There are apparent benefits too. Have you ever heard of the gay uncle theory?

  8. But when you look at the marriage as government introduced “benefits package” to the unions who technically can reproduce, then it's not semantics anymore. Of course many do not reproduce but it's easier and cheaper (as is not online validating small credit card transactions) to give that benefit to all. And as reproducing is the most important thing for mankind to survive – marrage and all that legalese is justified. But not for gay's.

  9. mattmaroon Says:

    First that assumes that we as a society want our citizens to reproduce, which probably hasn't been the case in 50 years. And second, gay people can (and very often do) adopt.

  10. mattmaroon Says:

    I know, when really I'm a libertarian elitist.

  11. Guys there is a great LGBT civil rights organization called the Empowering Spirits Foundation. They are very creative in how they approach this hot topic issue, in that they engage in service oriented activities in communities typically opposed to equal rights to foster thought and change for LGBT equality.

    A friend of mine told me about it and I thought it was a great, positive approach to the issue. We had so much fun at the last event and it was great to give back to the community. Plus it was great to converse with others on the other side of the table in a way that wasn't confrontational.

    Anyway, this can be such a heated issue and I thought this was a unique approach.

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