Tuesday, January 17, 2006

What's Love Got To Do With It?

The issue of gay marriage is once again in the media and I find the debate troubling on two fronts. First, I can’t think of one reason why homosexuals shouldn’t be allowed to marry. On the other hand, I don’t think that every person who opposes gay marriage is a bigot and don’t see what is gained by labeling them as such.

Almost every reason given to define marriage in such a way to exclude same-sex couples fails to persuade because usually the conditions given (the inability to procreate, increased divorce) can be applied to heterosexuals as well.

Yes, there are those who think that homosexuality is a scourge inflicted upon mankind for its sins and the only recourse is for the inflicted to reform and repent, or resign themselves to damnation.

But for every Rev. Fred Phelps there are probably 100 people whose opposition stems not from hatred, but by a strict observance to a tradition or ideal concerning marriage. It may be a short-sighted notion, but it isn’t necessarily a mean-spirited one. Nor is it a view only taken by those in the furthest reaches of the conservative right. Let’s not forget that our own Barack Obama voiced his opposition to gay marriage during his last campaign, although one would have to believe that he extended a finger to test the prevailing winds of public opinion before declaring his stance.

When San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom took the power invested in him to circumvent the law and pronounce couples husband and husband, one of the more interesting reactions came from parts of the gay community. There were those among them who thought that the illegal arrangements were detrimental to their cause. They believed that society had been slowly but surely moving towards greater acceptance of homosexuals, and eventually gay marriage, but that Newsome’s brazen act served only to shock a large portion of the populace who responded by retreating to a more traditional ground.

The current practice of spewing hate-filled rhetoric towards those who hold a “one man, one woman” model of marriage, but who otherwise harbor no ill will, does equal disservice. Perhaps I’m just not enough of an anarchist when it comes to seeking justice, but I think that this is one issue that will resolve itself best with patience and gradual assimilation.

I do think that the institute of marriage is important to our society, but find it odd that the government is involved in an issue that is based upon the presence of, or at least the pretense of, romantic love. This is why I believe that the state should stop dealing in marriage and instead focus on domestic partnerships.

In the eyes of government, two people desiring to become one should be treated pretty much the same as if they were forming a business partnership. There should be inducements and benefits for undertaking their venture, but risks should it fail. And it’s here where government should be encouraged to do what it does best - entangle the entire process in a web of red tape sufficient enough so that only the most determined couples will seek partnership and only the most desperate will seek divorce.

If love and affection are taken out of the equation, then even those who see homosexuality as unnatural could no more oppose the domestic union of Ellen and Portia than they could of Tom and Katy.

Removing the connubial bond from government oversight shouldn’t in any way diminish the sanctity of marriage. For most of us married folks, our commitment to our spouses was declared upon an altar or under a park gazebo, not in the county clerk’s office. That need not change. The declaration of love, the sacred and heartfelt vows, the blessings of a higher power, and the celebration among family and friends will still define matrimony for those who desire it.

If a given religious group wants to deny certain people the opportunity to marry under their auspices, that will be their right.

What happens after the wedding day, however, is up to each couple and no one else.

I’m not always on board when groups are singled out for special consideration under the law. I’m still not sure what a hate crime is, as if a beating is ever administered amicably. Special treatment isn’t really the issue here, however. This isn’t about accommodating gays so much as not discriminating against anyone over the age of consent who wishes to become betrothed.

Lest I come across as too open-minded, let me admit that I am uncomfortable with certain aspects of homosexuality, especially the male variety. I may watch Brokeback Mountain, but I'll probably close my eyes during certain scenes. But for the most part, I try not to concern myself with anyone else's sexuality besides my wife's and my own. Certainly not Elton John's, although I did hear that his wedding was absolutely fabulous.


gish said...

You know bigot may cause strong feelings on either part when directed from one person to another but in lots of cases it is true whether you are a major bigot or a lesser one.

Someone who wants to preclude another person from enjoying the same governmental/social benefit based on some aspect of their race/religion/sex/sexual orientation is essentially a bigot. It doesn't matter of you have some ideal or religious view or anything.

An good tool to use to determining if your statement falls under bigotry would be to substitue another race/gender etc and see if it sounds bigoted.

Per example, on the issue of marriage, instead of saying marriage should only be between a man and a woman, say marriage should only occur between whites or those of the same race. Sounds bigoted doesn't it. Well that's because it is.

Another good example would be Mayor Nagin's statement on the rebuilding of New Orleans saying he wanted to keep New Orleans a majority African-American city. Change that to We want to keep X city a white-majority city. Sounds bigoted doesn't it. That's because it is.

Bigotry is bigotry regardless of the underlying reasons behind it. Don't let people sugar-coat it or say it is for a good reason.

Dave said...

Quite a departure Dan from your Catholic upbringing (hate the sin, love the sinner).

Will the degradation of the respect given to the union between a man and a woman soon give way to man and two women...man and horse...woman and cat??? Is this a slippery slope?

The secular-progressive movement in this country appears to resists making any judgments against others behavior.

I don't know why Bob and Bob do what they do and I really don't care as long as it doesn't affect me or my family. Their sexual behavior is an aberration of natural law. The question is whether they deserve privileges because of this aberration.

The Abstract Prosaic said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.