August 15, 2010

Gay Marriage is Not an Issue of Morality it is a Political Issue

First off, thanks for voting on my poll. The votes seem to be headed in the direction I thought they would, but they are still interesting, and after a few more votes I'll take the poll down. I think the results have given me enough to write a small post on, and I can also throw in some of my job searching experience. Don't worry though, I'll put a new poll to fulfill your voting needs, and was debating the idea of putting a list of topics up and having you choose what I write about. I've got ideas for 8-10 posts and deciding what to write about that way would be an interesting change of pace for a little while, assuming I get enough votes to make an actual decision.

That said, I've been asked to write a couple opinion pieces on political issues, but haven't written them because I've either felt indifferent about the topic, or considered my knowledge base on the topic too limited to give an accurate and fair discussion. Gay marriage is not one of the political issues I am indifferent about or lacking in knowledge.

Now there may be some contention that this is more of a moral issue than political, because supporting a gay/lesbian lifestyle is a corruption of morality, but I don't buy this at all. Even if it was the case the being gay was immoral it doesn't necessarily mean that allowing gay marriage would be a moral issue; I say this strictly because the institution of marriage has moved far beyond the linking of two people together under the eyes of god. There are many eyes that look at marriage now, including those of the state and private business. points out a few of the 1400 rights that are given to heterosexual married couples, and points out they include the essential rights to parental rights of children, joint adoption, status as next of kin, sick leave to take care of a partner or child, crime victim recovery rights, and many others. Wikipedia, also gives a good overview of the rights given to married people in the United States, and includes things left off the other list such as, spousal privilege in court cases,  right to inherit property, funeral and bereavement leave, and something as simple as the right to change your surname upon marriage.

Yet private businesses also treat married people differently. Legal Help Mate in its summation of the benefits of marriage points out the insurance (auto, health and house) benefits of marriage , tuition discounts, and discounts and incentives that are only offered to married people.

So marriage between gay people is more of a political/social/equality issue, and the fact that people are homosexual altogether is further towards the moral side of the debate (If you think that sex and love between a man and a man or a woman and a woman is wrong).

One of the answers to the legal issues of marriage that people who support only heterosexual marriage have come up with is an attempt to 'take marriage back', the leading website on the issue, has some interesting quotes and arguments about marriage are insightful to address. There list of recent arguments starts with,

1. "Marriage is of religious origin; it should remain there.[...]"

This is a variation of the argument from antiquity and it doesn't hold water. This argument denies or blatantly ignores how marriage has changed since it was first developed. How it has gone from a simple symbolic/religious union into a useful classification for government and legal use ingrained deeply into how a society is performs. An acorn can become a mighty oak, and it can no longer be addressed as the acorn it once was. 

2.  "Some faiths accept same-sex relationships and others profoundly object. As a matter of religious freedom, both must be accommodated, but how? Separate state and church.[...]"

Yes, indeed, separate church and state and keep them apart! Hear hear! But, just because some people, as a matter of religious/intellectual freedom, abhor the idea of same-sex people being allowed to marry doesn't mean that the state has to choose their strict religious definition or stay out of the issue of marriage altogether. Heterosexual only marriage O' supporters  (H.O.M.O.'s as I like to call them) can deny the legitimacy of homosexuals marriages privately and religiously as much as they want. Any H.O.M.O. can say 'My god doesn't see your fag marriage!' and it would be a fine statement of personal belief.  They can hate lesbians being allowed to marry until the cows come home and that would be fine.

There can be a separate legal definition that has no impact on any private religious beliefs. The H.O.M.O's can keep their 'intellectual' definition while the state has a separate legal definition. To attempt to say there cannot be a separate definition is putting religion back into the governmental realm. The argument is violating it's own premise. 

3. "...The only real solution to the controversy over same-sex marriage is to get government out of the marriage business. It is not only more equitable, but it also falls in line with the American tradition of separation of church and state. It is the only solution that all sides should be able to agree on."

This falls on the same sword as the last argument, its own. By saying that the church and state should be separate, and then arguing that the state can't have an independent definition of what it recognizes as marriage, is not only intolerant, it is self defeating. The only solution that all sides should agree upon is that there needs to be a legal definition of marriage that encompasses committed consenting couples of any sex, and by creating a narrower definition it is making a large segment of the population unequal.    

Regardless of your personal stance on gay/lesbian lifestyle marriage is no longer a private matter between two people, it has a very dramatic legal and financial consequence. To privatize the word 'marriage' and make it only a description of heterosexual couples would only further stigmatize an already unequal part of the population.

Is it really necessary to concede to the H.O.M.O's the meaning of word marriage? To come up with a new word for homosexual marriage and change all the laws and benefits of the union to include that group? If your church and your buddies want to define marriage as a union between a man and woman fine, but the legal definition should not have to be biased by your narrow-minded standard. Marriage means far to much legally and socially to be taken away from committed couples no matter what there sex is.

Thanks for reading,
-the moral skeptic

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