Don't Stop the ACLU

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

No gay marriage? What about gay zlarriage?

My heart broke a little last November when 11 states passed bans on gay marriage. While these measures passed by overwhelming majorities in four Southern states, the most disconcerting aspect of the situation was that two solid-blue states, Oregon and Michigan, passed bans (57% and 59% of the vote, respectively). As much as I'd like to blame it all on the religious right, I can't do that. Many Democrats have voiced their opposition to gay marriage, and Bill Clinton himself signed the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman, in 1996. And now many in Congress are pushing for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage.

Why is this happening? What about freedom, liberty, equality, and all those other buzzwords we throw around so casually? I've debated this issue with several people over the last few years, and I've never once heard a good reason why homosexuals should not be able to marry. I have heard several bad reasons, however, and I think opponents of gay marriage themselves understand that they don't have a legal leg to stand on, which is why they're going to the extreme of attempting to amend the Constitution.

Here's how a typical debate on the subject goes:

Rational Person: So, tell me why you're against gay marriage.
Gay Marriage Opponent: God created the institution of marriage as a holy union between one man and one woman.
RP: He did? How do you know that?
GMO: The Bible says so.
RP: You know you're not allowed to discriminate based on your religious beliefs, right?
GMO: Yeah, I guess so.
RP: You'll have to give me a better reason then.
GMO: Homosexuality is unnatural.
RP: No it's not, and even if it were, why shouldn't they be allowed to marry? What's it to you?
GMO: Gay marriage will destroy the notion of family, and humans will no longer procreate.
RP: Heterosexual marriage will still be allowed, and you can have all the children you want. Families will still exist.
GMO: Marriage is traditionally the union of one man and one woman. That's the way it's been for thousands of years. It's a sacred institution; we must protect its sanctity.
RP: Traditions end, often with very good reason. And is marriage really so sacred? Let me get this straight: Britney Spears can get wasted in Vegas and marry some guy she barely knows, but two people who love and cherish each other - but happen to be of the same sex - can't? And what do divorce rates tell us about the sanctity of marriage? If we allowed homosexuals to marry, I'd bet a lot of money that the divorce rate among homosexuals would be substantially lower than that of heterosexuals, because they would value the right dearly.
GMO: But marriage is simply defined as the union of one man and one woman!
RP: Who says? Webster's? Words only mean what we allow them to mean. We can print new dictionaries if that's what concerns you.
GMO: But then the government and businesses will have to extend the same rights that heterosexual couples enjoy to homosexual couples!
RP: Yep, that's the idea. Anything else?
GMO: Because I said so!

This argument unfolds like one between a precocious child and a lazy parent. When lazy parent makes an irrational and unjust decision, precocious child will naturally question it. The more rational precocious child is, the more irrational lazy parent becomes, until lazy parent erupts and yells, "Because I said so!" It's a sad sight to behold.

Look, maybe we can compromise. Heterosexuals can keep marriage, and homosexuals will get their own marriage-like institution called zlarriage. Zlarriage will be defined as the legal union of one man and one man or one woman and one woman. The government and businesses will recognize its legality and offer the same rights and benefits to zlarried homosexual couples that they offer to married heterosexual couples.

See? Separate but equal.
posted by Maj. M.T. Rational XXXIV at 10:07 AM

11 Comments:

Blogger John said...

You know? The least you could do if you are going to create a blog thats name is inspired from my blog is to provide a link there in your sidebar. Call it the enemy if you wish. Whatever. I'll gladly reciprocate.

March 28, 2006 4:32 PM  
Blogger Maven Swift said...

This is a great challenge for our gay-marriage-opponent friends, Captain.

Come on, ladies and gents -- surely one of you has an argument against providing gay life partners with the same benefits their heterosexual neighbors enjoy that is not predicated on a religious belief or an erroneous assumption about "nature" (remember the gay penguins, guys).

I've never heard such an argument, but I'd sure like to.

March 28, 2006 11:24 PM  
Blogger Ogre said...

So explain to me why one cannot marry their dog, their cat, their children, and other men and women all at the same time? Seriously. Based on your argument, one should be able to marry all those, and all at the same time, simply because they want to.

April 02, 2006 2:18 PM  
Blogger Maj. M.T. Rational XXXIV said...

Marriage obviously requires consent of both parties, so that rules out animals and minors. I have no problem with polygamy. Any human being should be able to marry any other human being. I can't think of any good reason why they shouldn't be able to. The only exception to this would be incest, but we have pretty good reasons for anti-incest laws.

Jay, we added a link to your site last week.

April 02, 2006 5:30 PM  
Blogger Maven Swift said...

Yes, the Captian is right, Ogre.

Letting gay people marry each other is not at all comparable to letting people marry their pets. In gay marriage (or, zlarriage, if you'd prefer to hang onto the word "marriage"), you've got two human beings who can think and talk and make decisions about their interactions and relationships with other human beings. They are intellectual peers. You can say, "Hey fellas, would you like to spend the rest of your lives together?" and each one can respond, "Yes, we would." They are also -- and I don't think I can stress this enough -- both people.

Like the Captian said, animals can't provide consent. And they are not people, which I believe is a crucial dsitinction here.

Incest is a whole other can of worms. I happen to think it's disgusting, but I also don't think it's my place to tell any two adults who want to have sex with each other that they can't. What do I care? As long as I don't personally have to get it on with any of my relatives, I couldn't care less what other people do.

And finally: polygamy. Again, why should I care if you want to live on a commune and have a bunch of spouses and all of your spouses are happy with this arrangement? Why should I keep you and them from doing that? Who does polygamy hurt?

April 02, 2006 11:06 PM  
Blogger gitardood said...

I would like to ask if you believe in religion? If it's just about benifits from employers, ok, I can understand that, although I tend to believe that the health risks of sodomy would make health care providers raise the premiums like they do for smokers.

Then there's the argument of whether gay couples should have or raise kids. Do you think that would be healthy psychologically for kids who do not understand and instinctively think it's not right without someone telling them what's right or wrong?

Funny how the innocent ones in the world pay the price for what some adults think is natural. What will "Johnny" tell his friends about his two dads/moms? Why should "Johnny" carry the burden of ridicule from peers because of his situation that he had no control of? I know, you want to "educate" them so they understand. Why should "Johnny" feel uncomfortable watching his two dads/moms kiss or cuddle on the couch like a "normal" couple. Did you ever "walk in" on your parents? Imagine how you would've felt "walking in" on your dad and another man or mom and another woman.

Try to explain what it means to be "gay" to a child and you'll see the look on his/her face that tells you what our human instincts tell us. It's NOT natural. So a couple of penguins were "naturally gay", but they can't reproduce so how is it natural? Because it "feels" good? Doing drugs "feel good" too but it's not natural.

That's not to say that some (very few) people in the world are gay. But to call it a natural part of life that everyone should embrace is just ridiculous. If that were the case then a gay man would be able to bear children.

Just a thought.

April 03, 2006 1:18 PM  
Blogger Maj. M.T. Rational XXXIV said...

Like I said in the original post, religious beliefs should not be a factor in this debate, and to suggest that two homosexuals involved in a healthy, monogamous relationship should pay higher health care premiums is pretty offensive. We Americans have a plethora of unhealthy behaviors, and we could apply this argument to each and every one of them.

If you're concerned with the psychological states of children raised by gay parents, you can rest easy. Several studies have shown that a child is not adversely affected by having gay parents. (Read more here, another interesting story here.)

As for Hypothetical Johnny, the fact that he may be ridiculed for having gay parents only shows that our society has a ways to go on the tolerance and understanding front. What if Hypothetical Johnny's parents were fat and his friends mocked him for that? Should we prevent fat people from having kids?

I'll argue that to call homosexuality anything but natural is ridiculous. Saying that the fact that two gay men cannot produce a child indicates homosexuality is unnatural is a non sequitur. If it isn't a natural phenomenon, then what is it? Is it a choice? (I certainly don't remember hitting puberty and thinking, "Well, time to decide. Gay or straight? What's it gonna be?") Is it a mental illness? (If you think that's the case, science would like to have a few words with you.) So what is it?

April 03, 2006 3:43 PM  
Blogger Maven Swift said...

gitardood --

I am not especially religious, no, but I do respect the religious.

Fortunately, as you noted, religion need not enter into a discussion about civil rights laws. I'll address the issues you raised:

1) Do I think being raised by two loving gay parents (or heck, even one loving gay parent) would be psychologically damaging to a child? No. Think of all the straight kids who grow up "damaged" because their parents are abusive or otherwise dysfunctional or even simply nuts. It happens all the time. Not every kid with a mom and a dad has a good home life.

2) Will a kid with two moms or dads get ridiculed at school? Yeah, probably -- the social stigma is real. But kids get ridiculed at school for all kinds of reasons, and almost all of them are stupid. Maybe you wear glasses. Maybe your parents buy all your clothes two sizes too big (why should Johnny be ridiculed just because his parents are thrifty?). Maybe you go to school in an area where people of different races haven't quite learned to get along yet and you have one black parent and one white parent. Speaking of which, not so very long ago, a large part of the country thought mix-race marriages were "unnatural" -- something to consider.

3) Nobody wants to think about their parents having sex. Ever. In fact, you could argue this possibility is *more* traumatic for the biological kids of straight parents because those kids are themselves proof that their parents have had sex before. If your parents are gay, you can always cling to the hope that maybe they've always been celibate.

4) I'm not sure which look on a kid's face you're talking about. It's been my experience that left to their own devices, kids tend to accept all kinds of different people until someone tells them not to (and sometimes they go right on accepting those people anyway).

5) No one is asking you to "embrace" homosexuality, just like no one is asking you to embrace religious beliefs different from your own. In America, we don't ask Christians to convert to Hinduism or vice versa, but we do demand that Christians coexist peacefully with Hindus and afford them the same rights they afford their like-minded neighbors.

April 03, 2006 3:45 PM  
Blogger gitardood said...

Capt. Rational:

"...and to suggest that two homosexuals involved in a healthy, monogamous relationship should pay higher health care premiums is pretty offensive..."

Unhealthy/unnatural activities would raise the chances of a doctors visit. Are you trying to say, without getting graphic that, there's no health risk with sodomy? If you smoke or have high blood pressure, your premiums will go up, period. It's not discrimination, it's risk factors. That's all I'm saying. You wanted to be fair.

"...If you're concerned with the psychological states of children raised by gay parents..."

I asked if you thought it was "fair" to put a child in that position. Yes I know life's not fair (poor parents ect...) but isn't it more important to put children first? I think it's pretty selfish to not think of the consequences of a gay couple raising a child. To say "well society needs to change" may very well be true, but is it fair for a child to have to wait for society or schools to come around to his/her "parents" points of views?

If a parent worships Satan or if Dad has 4 wives, do you think the other children at his/her school are not going to make fun of him/her? Sure, it's not acceptable for kids to tease about one's home life, but they do. If you think they don't, then your blinded by your political view on the subject, and therefore kids are second on the list of important things you think about when it involves voluntary relationships at home. Just the same if dad/mom put's another woman/man before the child (i.e. "this is my girlfriend/boyfriend and I don't care if it's healthy for my child or not.")

"...What if Hypothetical Johnny's parents were fat and his friends mocked him for that? Should we prevent fat people from having kids?..."

That would be a valid point if fat people were not able to bear children naturally, as a couple. Then there's genetics. I suppose gay people are gay because of the "gay gene". An unproven myth. Even still, nature did not intend for two people of the same sex to concieve a child. If it were the opposite, we wouldn't be arguing.

"...If it isn't a natural phenomenon, then what is it? Is it a choice?..."

Yes.

(I certainly don't remember hitting puberty and thinking, "Well, time to decide. Gay or straight? What's it gonna be?")..."

Are you saying, when you, (hypothetically speaking), encountered your first sexual experience, you didn't have a choice? That when you decided you wanted to try kissing someone you didn't "chose" to kiss or not kiss a guy or a girl? Even if you thought or felt it was the right choice, it was still a choice.

And no, I don't believe it's an illness. Like I said, I believe it's a choice, even if it's a "gut feeling" choice, like a preacher that swears he hears God and feels he has no choice but to follow Gods' wishes. When, in reality he has a choice.

Maven Swift:
"...Think of all the straight kids who grow up "damaged" because their parents are abusive or otherwise dysfunctional or even simply nuts. It happens all the time. Not every kid with a mom and a dad has a good home life..."

That may be true but does that make it ok to raise the odds of a child to be picked on or confused?

"...Will a kid with two moms or dads get ridiculed at school? Yeah, probably -- the social stigma is real. But kids get ridiculed at school for all kinds of reasons, and almost all of them are stupid..."

And almost all of them are avoidable. And once again, does that make it ok?

"...If your parents are gay, you can always cling to the hope that maybe they've always been celibate..."

Really...

"...No one is asking you to "embrace" homosexuality..."

Really? Then what's with the gay pride marches and the gay channels on cable? Last time I looked, the regular networks didn't have a problem with gay shows or gay actors. And those of us in the straight community have accepted that. Why can't it just be equal? Why does it have to be lopsided?

I don't see straight people having a straight pride march or demanding a straight only channel of their own, even though polls show that most Americans don't agree with homosexuallity.

Ok. Homosexuals want to be treated equally, I get it, and I agree. EVERYONE should be treated equally. Homosexuals shouldn't get "special" treatment or endorsement by our Govt., same goes with religion and ethnicity.

April 04, 2006 3:44 PM  
Blogger Maven Swift said...

gitardood:

Forgive me if this sounds presumptuous, but I'd be willing to bet at least four of the five meanest, most vicious things ever said or done to you by other children when you were a child were completely arbitrary/unavoidable. I won't ask you to confirm or deny that, but it's worth reflecting on.

My point there was that if you grow up in a loving, stable household with two parents who care a whole lot about each other and you, and your biggest problem is that you get teased at school, you're one lucky kid.

I'll remind you that people made *exactly the same arguments* you're making now in less tolerant times againt interracial marriage ("We understand people sometimes fall in love 'unnaturally' with people of other races, but is it fair to bring light-brown children into the world when society is sure to shun them?").

Okay, and finally, on "special rights" --

I agree with you. Nobody should have special rights. Indeed, why can it not just be *equal*? Why can't two people who are in love just get married? Why can't two responsible adults adopt and care for and love a child whose biological parents would not or could not raise her?

The reason we have networks devoted to programming about gay people is that they satisfy a demand in the marketplace. Enough people want to watch that the networks can find sponsors and make money. Isn't that what capitalism is all about?

We don't have straight pride parades because nobody has bothered to organize them and because if they did, they would look silly. Straight people are in the majority, and we get to pat ourselves on the back for being straight all the time, parades or no. For every Brokeback Mountain, there are thousands of big-budget, well written, well acted, beautiful moving love stories about striaght people. Sometimes, with odds like that, you've just gotta have a parade.

April 05, 2006 12:08 AM  
Blogger gitardood said...

Maven Swift:
Fair enough.

I suppose we both have good points about the issue. I appreciate a good debate without a bunch of name calling and hate thrown back and forth.

April 05, 2006 10:46 AM  

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