Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I know quite a few sane and smart people who voted for McCain. He wasn't my candidate, but I completely understand why someone would vote for the guy. Maybe you like his experience, his political positions, or the cut of his jib. I get it.

Even on issues like abortion, I feel like there's a conversation that can be had, and common ground that can be found. We can talk about the best ways to reduce unwanted babies. We're all reasonable people, no? Yes.

War in Iraq? Health care? Educational standards? Progressive taxation? Global warming? I understand why folks would take a stance opposed to mine on any of these issues. We can have a meaty and respectful conversation with at least some data supporting both sides.

On the topic of gay marriage, however, I'm at a loss to find any common ground with the people who have voted to deny gays and lesbians the right to marry the people they love. I often debate myself in my head to find out if I can defend a position other than my own and I'm totally unable to do it with the anti gay-marriage position.

I understand that many people believe that the Bible condemns homosexuality. So, if you're a Bible literalist who interprets the Bible that way, you'd probably want to refrain from having gay sex. I get that. But the last time I checked we don't live in a theocracy. Have you looked around at the other theocracies in the world? Is Iran what you're hoping to turn us into? Or maybe it's Israel? That's a peaceful place too.

So, Bible literalists, please stop picking quotes out of your holy book and turning them into constitutional amendments, ok? I'm not really any more interested in having gay sex than you are, but you don't see me amending the constitution about it.

Now then, the people who voted for Prop 8 (the California amendment which denies gays the right to marry) who DIDN'T do it for Biblical reasons are even more incomprehensible. I understand that there's some fear that schools are going to "teach gay marriage". What does that mean? I don't recall my schools teaching anything about marriage. It's not really an issue that school children deal with. However, if the boogeyman here really is the specter of your children potentially being informed about the legality of two dudes getting married, then... uh... well, fuck, what's wrong with that? Feel free to tell your children that regardless of the legality of gay marriage, that your holy book says that it's wrong. Is that not a simpler approach here than amending my state constitution?

So, what is it? Why have the majority of Californians voted this way? Is it spite? Fear? Repressed homosexuality?

All I know is now that when I see my gay neighbors, co-workers, and friends, some of whom have been in long-term relationships longer than my 12 year marriage, all I can do is be ashamed of how this turned out.


Portlander said...

This is a baffling issue to me. When I saw the results this morning I was very surprised. Since I wasn't exposed to any of the rhetoric up here in Oregon, I was trying to figure out what the argument could possibly be. All I've ever heard is "marriage should be between a man and a woman" which is pretty much a declaration rather than an argument. Why should I care who somebody else marries? AFAICT, it doesn't effect me, so marry whoever you like.

Mike said...

Portlander, I wish I could defend their position here. It's inexplicable. I went to the "Protect Marriage" page to try and get some insight into why people would care if we have gay marriage and this is their entire set of arguments:

That's it? You're worried that someone is going to define marriage in a non-discriminatory way to your kindergartners? Do you think they're going to roll out gay porn videos? Turn your child gay?

Some Girl said...

Amen, Mike.

Sadly, I think it's just undisguised discrimination. There were similar arguments before the Supreme Court when they considered whether to allow interracial marriage, back in the day. People then were also concerned that their children would find other people's interracial marriages acceptable, and you know what... nowadays, they do. And who cares?

I don't think there is another answer besides the old unfortunate human curse of us-vs-them. So sad. Fingers crossed for a technical overturn!

Mike Duffy said...

Well said, Mike. I wish I'd written it.

Megh said...

You completely said what I was thinking.

meg said...

I'll tell you what's been told to me. I do NOT believe this so don't flame me. Some people believe that marriage exists in society for the creation of secure families, including children. Marriage is to tie a man to a woman so he knows the children are his. You can only create a child with a man and a woman. Thus, a gay couple doesn't 'need' the right to get married as they cannot create biological children.

Yes, I see the holes in this argument. But it's the only non-religious one I've been hearing.

Of course my gay cousin just had twin girls. Luckily she was married before the law was overturned and her wife is on the birth certificate as the father.

Maybe there will be a federal law and that will supersede the state law.

meg again said...

PS as a teacher of about 20 years I can tell you I have NEVER EVER taught a sentence about marriage. I may have said "Wow my husband is a pain" but that's about all I've ever said about marriage.

I know a LOT of gay teachers. Our Administrator of Elementary Education is gay. They are some of the BEST teachers IMO.

Velvet Sacks said...

Yes, this is discrimination, no question about it. There seems to have always been a large segment of our society hell-bent on having the last word on who's "in" and who's "out," and each group that's targeted for discrimination has had to have some very public battles to ultimately be treated as equals. First there were bus boycotts, then bra burnings. I'm not sure what the gays and lesbians will have to do to call attention to their plight, and it isn't right that they have to fight for what should be theirs, but I'll make a prediction: One day there'll be a gay president.

Mike said...

Some Girl, yeah, the analogy to interracial marriage isn't bad. Folks thought it would be the end of society and it turned out pretty well.

Thanks, Mike. I wish I had written it before election day.

Thanks, Megh!

Meg, you're right that there are holes in that argument. Legally marriage has just about nothing to do with kids (aside from custody issues that occur when marriages end). The marriage contract has far more to do with property rights, benefit sharing, and general access, none of which have anything to with gender. Sadly, I don't think there's much that can be done at the Federal level to INCREASE marriage rights. It's supposed to be a state issue.

VS, yes, there will be a gay president and gay marriage. Some folks think there already was a gay president.

carey said...

Totally, agree, Mike. It's nobody else's business. If gays want to go and screw up an otherwise happy relationship by getting married, then they should have that unfortunate right. Maybe you all were just trying to protect them.

Mike said...

Yeah, it's like gays in the military. If they really want to join the military and risk their lives for our country, shouldn't we be letting them?

Sue said...

I'm still trying to reason out this one for myself. I used to say that gays should have all the same rights but just not call it marriage. Call it a union, or whatever. But then I heard that the legal argument against that is that "separate is not equal". In other words - gays would somehow be receiving the short end of the stick legally if their union wasn't called "marriage" - even if they had all the same rights and privileges as heteros.

I don't know if I believe that. But I'm just not sure.

Mike said...

Hey Sue, yeah, the "civil union" solution seems close, but still has that odor of inequality about. I think the real answer here is to get the government out of the "marriage" business. The government should ONLY sanction civil unions which would be purely legal contracts between any two adults, be they man and woman, two men, brother and sister, whatever. Nothing sexual about it, just a legal sharing document. Then religious organizations could define their holy unions any way they wished because it would be entirely outside the law, kind of like the separation between church and state.