The Gay (Marriage) Thing

     First things first, I’m not going to try and convince you that being gay is morally acceptable. You have been taught through your religious and cultural education or decided on your own that homosexuality is wrong and gay marriage is a sin against God and nature. You’re able to quote chapter and verse exactly where the Bible speaks out against “men lying with men as with women” and the whole the Lot situation gives you the heebie jeebies. That’s just fine, this post isn’t about Biblical criticism or biological determinism or any kind of justification or rationalizations. I’m not going to try and convince you that there is absolutely nothing wrong with what consenting adults decide to with their genitals on their own time. That’s not what I want to talk about today. Yes, I vehemently disagree with you about the supposed immorality of any particular sexual orientation, but for the sake of this discussion, I’ll grant that you and a significant portion of the population of the US feel that homosexuality is wrong, or at the very least icky.

     I know it’s hard to believe now, but I can relate. I was raised to believe that being gay was sinful and wrong. Not only did I believe it, I preached it. As much as I’m ashamed of it now, there exists an article that I wrote for my youth group’s newsletter in which I expressed my prejudice and hatred by lampooning the very concept of a “Gay Christian” movement. I was even arrogant enough to end that particular screed by saying that as real Christians “we have a lot of work to do here.”

     Thankfully, I’ve since changed my mind on that particular topic, (and many others), but I wanted you to understand that when I say “I know where you’re coming from”, I really do. I was once on your team, I was once where you are now. Some of you feel that since homosexuality is a crime against nature and anethema to the religion of the majority of American voters, it is right and fitting that the government does not allow the institutionalized support of homosexual relationships. To put it more simply: No gay marriage!

Many people will try to engage with you on the question of whether or not being gay is right or wrong, whether it’s a choice or a consequence of biology. Right now I’m not interested in those questions. The question I’m putting to you is this: “Does the fact that you disagree with the morality of a choice give you the right to take the right to take that choice away from others?”
See, this issue is a lot bigger than using the law to make a statement about your opinion of gay marriage. As states continue to pass legislation banning marriage, it will legally codify the second class status of an entire portion of the American population. According to some estimates 10% of the population self-identifies as homosexual, so by supporting a ban on gay marriage, you are saying that 30,000,000 tax-paying citizens of the United States of America do not have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. You’re taking away the most fundamental part of what it means to be an American from 30,000,000 people because you disagree with what their definition of happiness is, and deny them the liberty to live the life they choose.

     All these millions of people are asking for is the same right you have. They want the right to choose the person they want to spend the rest of their life with, and the ability to share in the benefits and responsibilities that all married couples are granted by their government. They have found someone that fufills them so much, makes them so happy that in many cases they’ve been willing (or been forced) to face fear and condemnation from their friends, families and communities just to be able to have a relationship. They’re not asking you to condone their relationship, they’re not asking you to approve it, or tell your kids that you think it’s nifty. They just want the chance to have their partners legally and publically recognized as important to them. This isn’t about converting your children, it’s not about some mythical gay agenda, it’s about knowing that if you’re sick and hurting in the hospital, the most important person in your life has the legal right to visit you.

Do you understand yet? This isn’t a threat to you. This isn’t even about you. This isn’t an attempt to weaken or challenge your right to your religious views. You may disagree with it, you may think that a homosexual relationship is damaging and sinful, but so what? It’s not saying that you can’t get married because suddenly, gay people can.You don’t lose anything, and 30,000,000 people get to take their best shot at happiness. Let me put it this way: I hate alcohol. I think it’s a horrific waste of time and resources. I think it makes people who are otherwise charming, funny, intelligent and fun to be around act like slow-witted, boorish, obnoxious pricks who think they’re still charming, funny, intelligent and fun to be around. It can ruin careers and destroy families. All that aside, alcohol use is directly and indirectly responsible for tens of thousands of deaths a year from binge drinking, alcohol poisoning and drunk driving. All that being said, I recognize that other people feel differently and have the right to take part in an activity that I strongly disagree with. People whom I respect greatly enjoy alcohol and think it adds significantly to their quality of life. So, I don’t drink, and I don’t stop them from drinking. I respect the fact that they are adults and get to make their own decisions about how to live their life, no matter how much I wish they might choose differently. On top of that, I always have to remember that I may be wrong, and someday I could change my mind.

If freedom means anything, it means having the right to make bad decisions, or at least decisions that the majority disagrees with. We can disagree on whether or not homosexuality is wrong, but once we take away somene’s rights because we disagree with how they may use them, we’ve started our country down a very dangerous, very slippery slope.

…and if after all that, you still don’t think that gays should get married, then fine, you can skip the reception. You probably wouldn’t have had much fun anyways.

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4 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Ethics, Religion

4 responses to “The Gay (Marriage) Thing

  1. I could not agree more. Well said.

  2. mike baker

    i always knew you had a soft spot in your heart for gay people.

  3. Unless you’re an anarchist, you must believe that the government should make laws to curtail some people’s “pursuit of happiness” (for example, the guy holding up the liquor store is pursuing his happiness, and the government is curtailing his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness by banning robbery). I don’t think this line you’re taking is very consistent.

    There are probably closer to 2% of Americans who are going to be interested in a long-term same-sex relationship, not 10%, but do the numbers matter? I understand you’re trying to get across the point that allowing legal gay marriages is important to a lot of people, but if you made an argument on a firmer principle, the case wouldn’t be weakened by that more accurate figure.

    I don’t think anyone, gay or straight, has a “right” to a government-backed and government-recognized marriage. In fact, I think it would be a lot better if the public stopped looking to the government to subsidize and legitime romantic relationships. That goes double for religious conservatives who insist that the meaning of marriage is denigrated if gays are allowed to have it. Instead, let churches and non-religious groups decide what marriage is. Let people indicate who they want to receive their social security benefits when they die: a friend, a lover, a family member, a charity, whatever. Let employers decide who can receive the “spousal benefits” (for example, Rite-Aid might offer 20% discount to employees and their spouses). Sure, gays are getting screwed by the current marriage system, but single people and couples who just decide not to marry are getting it just as bad.

    Good points about alcohol and the general “live and let live” attitude people should have, and that was a good ending too.

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