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August 5th, 2010

Thoughts and musings about Prop 8 and the state of things @ 12:20 pm

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

So, last night on my way out of the office the television in the lower lobby showed that Prop 8 was overturned. I smiled and nodded my head and said “Right on”. This is a monumental ruling and one that sends a loud message to the rest of America. It’s not over, however, and I’m sure the opponents of gay marriage are going to pursue every option to fight this available to them. I fear that in some ways, the issue of gay marriage and any judicial victory for gay marriage is going to be subjected to the same incessant attacks as Roe v. Wade. Those who oppose RvW often do so vehemently and are tireless in their quest to challenge it and overturn it. I think it’s going to be the same for Gay Marriage. This means activists and supporters of gay marriage have our work cut out for us. Vigilance is the price of freedom.

The thing is, many of the people who oppose gay marriage feel completely justified in doing so. They don’t see their opposition to it as forcing their way of being on others, they honestly feel (for whatever reason) that their rights and the “institution of marriage” is under attack and that it is their civic duty to defend it. I don’t know why people believe this; the concept is so completely foreign to me. Certainly there is the religious element to it; within Christianity it seems the more widely accepted view of homosexuality and gay marriage is that it is against God’s will. It makes it very hard, if not impossible to argue the issue with those who feel spiritually justified (however open to debate their interpretations of scripture and conclusions are) in opposing it. These people feel that laws passed for gay marriage is an “attack” against their religious beliefs or, in some cases, a direct challenge and insult to God. My reaction to listening and reading certain Christians’ arguments against gay marriage has ranged from understanding their concerns (even though I disagree with their stance and think them oblivious to their narrow-mindedness and perhaps unintentional selfishness) to wide-eyed shock and disgust at their zealotry, hate and paranoia.

Of course, the more difficult problem lies with Christian homosexuals and whether or not the state or federal government has the right to tell a church whether or not they can perform a marriage for homosexual couples. For instance, gay Catholics will certainly have trouble finding a church that will recognize their marriage and agree to perform it, and even if they do find one, it may not be a parish that meets their other spiritual and social needs. For many Catholics, getting married in their home parish is important and the inability to do so can be quite distressing. While this doesn’t impact the legality of gay marriage (since they can always go to a Justice of the Peace), I do think it it’s an important aspect of the gay marriage issue.

This is why I strongly feel that the issue of gay marriage, at least as it applies to the legality of it, should always be discussed and considered outside of any particular set of religious beliefs, even religious beliefs that support gay marriage. The issue can never be adequately and fairly addressed and discussed within the context of religion. Religion is largely a personal thing and often people hold positions on some issues that are contradictory to their religious beliefs, despite there being a consensus of religious ideals and interpretations of religious documents that form the basis for the support or opposition of gay marriage (and by extension, acceptance of homosexuality). Arguing religious reasons for or against gay marriage solves nothing because it is highly unlikely that either side will change their beliefs. The main reason that the issue of gay marriage needs to be considered completely outside of a religious context is because failing to do so ultimately is choosing one religion’s set of ethics and morals to apply to everybody, and that is a form of religious dictatorship and flies in the face of the founding principles of our country.

When you remove the religious context around the issue of gay marriage, to me it becomes a bit more clear-cut. I respect our founding fathers, but they weren’t paragons of ageless, immutable wisdom. They were flawed mortal men, like any of the rest of us and the notion that something that “goes against our founding fathers’ vision” is un-American and objecting to it on those grounds is ridiculous. These are not the same times (thank Gods) that the founding fathers lived in. Our modern society faces very modern issues and while looking backwards at precedent and guidance from our founding fathers and rich history as Americans is often a wise and good thing to do, we also have to make sure we are open to adaptability and aware of the need for certain ideas to evolve.

To me, the ultimate question when considering gay marriage is “Outside of religious beliefs, which are personal, subjective and largely should not form the basis of laws, on what grounds should gay marriage be opposed?”. It’s no coincidence to me that removing religious considerations effectively makes that a rhetorical question; there really aren’t any credible grounds for objecting to gay marriage outside of religion. People like to say this is a Christian nation and somehow think, whatever the truth is about the religion of our forefathers, that this means it’s okay to favor Christian ideals and morals over all others.

Secular Humanism is a favorite target of Conservatives. While I do think that religion/spirituality can be a great source of ethics and morals, I realize it is not the only source and in fact it’s probably not the best source for ethics and morals in a diverse society whose members undoubtedly has many different beliefs (or none at all). Moreover, the efficacy of any given religious or spiritual ethics and morals applies best at the individual or small group level; it becomes infinitely more complicated and loses something when it is imposed upon society at large, I think. I do think that laws based on Secular Humanism rather than any particular religion are a much smarter way to form the basis for ethics and morals in society at large. In many ways, there is no conflict between Secular Humanist ethics and morals and many religious ethics and morals. Murder, rape, molestation, theft, things like these are rather obviously harmful to society at large and the ability to object and create moral and ethical maxims about them does not presuppose the necessity of any religious or spiritual belief. From a scientific, rational perspective, which is the basis for Secular Humanist ethics and morals, I cannot see any reason for homosexuals to not be allowed to marry in exactly the same way as heterosexuals do.

On a political level, I think that the issue of gay marriage often boils down to an often misused and incorrectly applied phrase: “Special Interest Groups”. I have mixed feelings about special interest groups. I do recognize the necessity for there to be groups that look out for the rights and equality of minorities and outlying groups of people (be them relating to religious, political or chosen lifestyles). However, I do not think that gay marriage should be classified as “special interest” – there’s nothing “special interest” about demanding equality when it comes to who can be married, regardless of their sexual orientation (I have misgivings about allowing for polygamy, mainly because I see how easily it could be abused, but that’s another discussion).

I am hopeful that this important milestone will build momentum for allowing gay couples to be married across America some day.

Good going, California!
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
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Date:August 5th, 2010 05:57 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. The question becomes rhetorical when taken out of a religious context because there is no credible basis for objection whatsoever.

Religion's morals and ethics are better suited, in our modern society, to an individual who chooses to abide by those accepted mores, but any given religion's morals and ethics (however compatible with larger society [i]some[/i] of them might be) are a pretty archaic and bad source for laws and morals in society.

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Date:August 5th, 2010 05:58 pm (UTC)
Bah...got too used to BBC Code on video game forums, just imagine 'some' italicized. :D

By the way, your article "The Truth Against The World" has been a source of inspiration and introspection for me lately.