Sunday, December 11, 2011

First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage

I feel that it is a good rule of thumb for me to take a couple of days to think about my post when I am going to write about gay marriage. Not so much because the subject warrants deep consideration, although it does, I have been known to dash off posts on other topics that also warrant deep consideration. In this case the enforced days of mulling give me not only time to collect my thoughts, but also time to mellow out.

I need such time, because I am angry about the nature of the discussion of gay marriage in our nation! While appeals to emotion, also called pathos, may be an effective argumentative strategy, I don't believe that they are the most ethical method of discourse (an interesting post from a friend I met through dancing on this subject, if you are interested). Furthermore, when discussing something as polarizing as gay marriage, I feel the vitriol that passion can bring out only impedes parties from coming to such common understandings as can be found. In fact, I have already begged off of posting about gay marriage once, on the grounds that I didn't wish to embitter my readers. I actually did post about Proposition 8 elsewhere, and my initial thoughts on the subject and what I actually wrote a day later were quite different in tone. That said, on to the post about gay marriage.

What I wish to address specifically is the religious objections to legalizing gay marriage. Or, even more specifically, how I can think of absolutely no reasonable grounds for a religious objection to legalizing same sex marriages... yes, I am staying calm. This is mostly directed at Christians, both because I hear the most objections from them and because I am most familiar with the content of their objections. If you have objections from a different religious tradition that do not conform to these generalizations I would be most interested in hearing them.

I really do not care what your religious stance on the righteousness of gay marriage happens to be, that is between you, your conscience, your deity, and your religious leaders, or some subset thereof. I don't want to try to argue whether homosexuality is a sin with you, I do not need to! Unless your religion is different than the vast majority of religions, it probably teaches that following another religion is less righteous, in some sense. I think this can even be said to be true of the Quakers and Baha'is, despite both being paragons of tolerance. As such, I think it is likely that you support immoral things being legal, because most Americans appreciate the freedom of religion, even though it allows those immoral "others" to indulge in their less righteous beliefs.

One might argue that it is a harmful lifestyle, both to those who practice it, although as freedom loving Americans this argument does not hold much weight, and to their children, a more compelling argument. While there have been many emotional counterarguments to this point, again, I do not need to refute you. Presumably you believe that being raised without a personal relationship with a loving Savior is also harmful, or a firm indoctrination into the Church's dogmas if one happens to be Catholic, or whatever the analogous benefit is to whatever religious tradition you prefer. Yet we do not try to legislate that Hindi couples, or Jewish couples, or Muslim couples, and so on, not marry and raise children.

You might object that marriage is a sacred religious rite and it cannot be performed on homosexual couples due to its very nature, whatever the laws in place may be. Here I will have to both agree and disagree with you. Yes, marriage is a sacred religious rite, and yes it is reasonable for you to believe that it cannot be performed for same sex couples, although I disagree with that. But no, that is not all that it is. Marriage is also a purely legal and entirely separate secular condition, which must be kept entirely separate if we are to maintain the separation of church and state that is one of the great institutions of our nation. And it is this second, secular form of marriage that I, and most advocates for same sex marriage, am calling for same sex couples to have equal access to.

Ah, and here you think you might find some traction for your slipping arguments against some sex marriage, but won't advocates for same sex marriage take permission to engage in secular marriage and use it to try to legally force churches to marry them in religious ceremonies? Sadly, I think that some will, and I do not think that to do so is right, by the same freedom of religion that I supported above. However, just because someone might take a warranted right and attempt to do something unwarranted with it does not justify withholding the warranted right. And, let me be perfectly clear here, I believe that churches should not be forced to marry gay couples, but I also believe that they should not be forced to accommodate inter-racial marriages, despite the fact that I feel their refusal to do so is morally disgusting, and I feel the same way about a refusal to acknowledge same sex marriages.

Furthermore, the right to refuse service for religious reasons should be restricted to religious institutions, in my opinion. A business has no more right to refuse a gay couple service for their identity than it would to deny a person service for their racial, or political, or gender etc. identity. And, since I cannot think of any more common objections to same sex marriages, I shall end the discussion there for now.

However, on a related note, apparently Lowe's is pulling an ad from a show because objections have been raised to the show focusing on Muslims in the United States. This is yet another example of the market not being guided inherently by a conscience, or anything else with moral relevance, but rather by what people want, or, more accurately, what will affect the bottom line. In response to this villainy some feel the need to legislate morality, forcing Lowe's to put run the ad using some form of anti-discrimination legislation. Again, while I agree with anti-discrimination laws, I do not believe their proper use is to force businesses to run ads on specific shows. However, despite the fact that some people will use said laws in a manner with which I do not agree, I am not advocating that we get rid of said laws altogether. But, if you happen to do business with Lowe's, I would advocate that you consider shopping elsewhere until they repudiate their cowardly and, ultimately, bigoted action and reinstate the ad!


elfarmy17 said...

Oh, but Kenny! Don't you know that our nation is founded on the right to celebrate Christmas? CHRISTmas? The founding fathers intended it to be so! Don't you ever watch Fox News? ;)

Kenny said...

I agree that our nation is founded on the right to celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, none of these because you think the only day that should be venerated is the Sabbath, none of these because you don't believe any of their religious traditions, or all of these, because you are super tolerant! Furthermore, I think our nation is better for that right. But, funnily enough, I don't actually watch Fox News... it hurts me too much.

Max said...

In general, I find that I agree with your discriminative approach to tolerance: it is of course possible to find some act morally repugnant and advocate for its abolition, while also opposing any public legislation against this act. This is of course as long as it's in the realm of protected speech, religion, expression, media, etc.

I have a question about what you mean by "reasonable," in the context of the line: "...yes it is reasonable for you to believe that it cannot be performed for same sex couples..." Do you mean that if you have the sinfulness of homosexuality as an article of faith then it follows that they should not be included in marriage?

Kenny said...

It would probably be better to ask a Catholic that question, as I am referring to my understanding of their dogmas when I say it, rather than myself, as I am actively antagonistic to Catholicism. However, I feel fairly confident saying that the sinfulness of homosexuality does not imply that they should not be included in marriage. Most obviously because all humans are sinful, but also because I think The Church would be happy to see them married, just to people of the opposite sex.

As I understand it, the objection is that marriage is an institution created by God for men and women to enter into with each other. As such, there is simply no way for a same sex couple to engage in a marriage, as they do not fulfill the prerequisites. Of course, if same sex couples CANNOT actually get married, then I don't quite know why they are making such a fuss about them trying ;)