July 28, 2004

The Company You Keep

Here's the draft of my article. I'm trying to trim it up a bit and reference the Amendment being shot down, but for what it's worth...

Defense of Marriage is an Attack on the Family

Earlier this year, George W. Bush made a decision: The Institution of Marriage was in danger. Too many traditional couples were deciding not to get married, and a few same-sex couples actually WERE getting married. So he devised a two-pronged attack: Encourage traditional couples (who opted to just live together) to get married, and call for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages. Unfortunately, both prongs were wrong.

First off, couples that are cohabitating are usually doing so for a reason. Most likely, they are not ready for the commitment of marriage. Statistics have shown that couples forced into marriage before they were ready usually end up in divorce.

Second, I think that the government has bigger issues to deal with than same-sex unions. Frankly, I fail to see how two people wanting become monogamous and pledge their love for one another are a threat to the nation.

In his attempt to defend the institution of marriage, Bush only succeeds in attacking on the American family by denying same-sex families rights and increasing the divorce rate of heterosexual couples.

Let's take the term "the Institution of Marriage." Institutions are theoretical entities. They don't really exist. What matters is how this issue relates to ACTUAL marriage, individual unions between two people. The concept of marriage is simple enough, two people committing to one another in love, promising monogamy and respect for the rest of their lives.

Now you tell me, which union betrays the concept of marriage more; a monogamous same-sex partnership, or your average Hollywood/Rock/Sports star wedding, where the participants often get married with no intention of fidelity or even staying married for very long. Then consider recent "Reality" TV programs like "Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire" and "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancée." The FOX TV Network alone has done more damage to the institution of marriage than same-sex partnerships ever will.

Next, consider the assertion that same-sex unions will somehow tarnish the institution of marriage. This argument is nothing new, it's the same false notion that made people think giving voting rights to women would ruin democracy, or that giving equal rights to African-Americans would lessen everyone else's citizenship. We've seen from history that this idea doesn't hold any water. Marriage is not an exhaustible resource that can be lessened by letting more people have it.

Gay marriage is a heated debate because marriage exists in both religious and legal contexts. Two people usually have a religious wedding, and then they fill out some forms to be granted the complimentary legal status. Some religions, such as Catholicism, restrict the marriages that they recognize, but can anyone produce credible, non-religious evidence why couples should be denied the legal status of marriage? I've yet to see it. Religion is all too often used to justify political decisions because it demands no logical proof.

Take away the religious aspect, and consider those heterosexual couples that skip the church entirely and have a judge declare them legally married at the courthouse. What should make this union any different than a same-sex couple that does the same?

Now, for argument's sake, let's look at the religious aspect. Compare the activities at rallies for and against gay marriage and you tell me who is acting more Christian. All I ever see in anti-gay protests are hateful people telling others that they're going to burn in hell. It's amazing that these people claim to be avid readers of the Bible, but it appears they still haven't finished it.

There's a whole second half of the Bible called the "New Testament" that tells you to love (or at the very least, respect), your neighbor. Even if you decide that gays are your enemies, it tells you to love them. If you feel that gays are somehow less Christian than you, you're free to practice religion that excludes them, but that does not give you the right to deny them basic rights that should be granted to all citizens.

But let's keep focus; the issue at hand is not the religious acceptance of same-sex unions. We are talking about federal recognition of same-sex unions as legitimate partnerships, granting them the same rights and benefits as traditional marriages: Health care for spouses and children, a small tax break, and recognition of both members as one legal entity.

Without these rights, same-sex couples can't pool their money and take out a loan, which makes it hard to buy a house. They can't write up a will and decide how their assets should be distributed. If they raise a child and one of them dies, the surviving partner may have no legal rights to that child. If one partner becomes ill and is unable to work, the other's heath care will not cover them. These are simple rights that those of us in traditional marriages probably take for granted.

This is much more than a difference of opinion; the actions taken by the government affect the well being of millions of Americans. Whatever your personal opinion on gay marriage, Keep focused on the issue: The government is not expressing opinions in a hypothetical debate; they are deciding whether or not to make a federal law. The purpose of a law is to defend people from harm or improve their quality of
life, and laws to ban same-sex unions do not accomplish either of these.

How, exactly, does my marriage suffer if others are allowed to marry? It doesn't. Granting rights to others does not somehow dilute these rights, just as taking action to deny rights to others will not strengthen them. The only way to harm the institution of marriage is to deny membership to worthy couples who want to become monogamous and faithful to one another.

There, I said it, comments welcome on the link below.

I don't believe how difficult this was to do. Just to post my opinion about gay marriage was a stressful, worrisome exercise because I know that some of my friends and family members have opposing views. It is like a little "coming out" of my own. Given, it's a bit cowardly to do it on a blog, but it's the only way when I have friends in the UK, Parents in Hawaii, a brother in LA and friends that I don't see all that often.

But as difficult as this was to do, it's a walk in the park compared to those who have to really "Come Out" to their loved ones. I just can't imagine the pressure that they feel. The need to be true to yourself conflicting with the fear of consequences. Painting the target on your chest. Like a game of Stratego, you'll never know if you're going to be attacked by those you run into until it happens. The looming threat of anonymous violence, for what amounts to a social preference. It's horrible, and being on the outside, I just can't get my head around it all.

1 comment:

  1. Well Chris,
    I don't think I could have said it better myself.
    I don't think the sanctity of marriage will be damaged by allowing gay couples to marry any more than it is damaged by allowing straight couples to marry at 3am piss-drunk in Vegas by an Elvis impersonator.
    I've been very curious about the arguments against it, and thus have asked every person I could find who opposed gay marriage, and have not found a single person even able to come up with anything more articulate than:
    "Adam and Eve! Not Adam and Steve man!!"
    Wow. I'm overcome by the logical force of that one. Maybe they're afraid that if we allow gay marriage that all the good gay men will be off the market.