My “Official” Stance on Gay Marriage
People have been asking me about my opinion on gay marriage recently. I’ve written posts, here and elsewhere, about the issue and how the Left uses emotionally based rhetoric, such as claims of homophobia and bigotry, to drive a wedge into the debate and shut down opposition.
But, until now, I’ve never stated my own opinion on the subject.
This is that post.
Before I get to the heart of the matter, let me state that this post will offend some of you. This is not a post about fair and balanced anything. This is entirely my personal opinion. While, especially on another site, I felt I was there to introduce a topic, and the Leftist bias that accompanies it, and to promote discussion by refraining from my own personal bias on the issue, here, the gloves come off.
If you do not wish to read me questioning your religious or political views, then read no further and let’s just agree to not discuss this subject on a personal level. However, before you make that choice, kindly keep in mind I’ve read many of your views on the subject, and have responded amicably and peacefully.
OK. Warnings and caveats aside, let’s get to it.
Religious Views Against Gay Marriage:
Most of the faith-based attacks on gay marriage, and homosexuality in general, that I’ve encountered have come from Christians. Also, I was raised a Christian. Therefore, it is the Christian-based arguments I will reference here.
1) Homosexuality is a sin
This view is largely based on several Bible passages. One of them is the story of Sodom and Gommorah, where many Christians argue the cities were punished by God due to the permissive nature of sexual practices – homosexuality specifically. However, another point of view says the cities were punished for violating the Jewish laws of hospitality and for the demands of its citizen to commit rape of strangers who were protected by Lot.
Leviticus 18:22 reads that a man shall not lie with another man as with a woman. There is an interesting discussion on what this might mean, along with its context from a decided Christian (as opposed to Jewish) perspective here.
Let’s just take the verse as is, without trying to justify what it may or may not mean, within the context Jewish law.
If you believe 1) that the Bible is the unalterable, living word of God, as many Christians believe, then you must hold true to all of the law. And yet I know no Christian who obeys the dietary restrictions mandated by God (in truth, some of these were “overturned” by the New Testament). I know of no Christian who would advocate stoning an adulterer or killing someone of a different religion. I know of no Christian who would willingly kill his or her own child if the child cursed the parents. And yet, all of these are rules mandated by God.
From my albeit limited understanding of Jewish law within the context of Judaism itself, some of the law applies only to Jews, and some isn’t practiced now for a particular reason. I’ve had this reason explained to me, but I confess I don’t understand it, so I’m not going to try and explain it here for fear my misinterpretation and misstatement may do more harm than good. I am not a Jew and I can’t claim to speak for them.
My point is that, from a Christian perspective, all of the Bible applies all of the time. And yet, when a Christian wishes to judge others, he or she often picks out passages which confirm a specific point of view. I’m going to do the same thing later, by way of example, and let’s see what kind of reaction I get.
Moving on to the New Testament.
Romans 1: 26-27 – “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence [sic] of their error which was meet.”
Know what Jesus Christ had to say about homosexuality? Neither do I, but if he said anything about it, it’s not recorded in the Bible. It’s all Paul. Personally, I think it’s foolish to weigh the words of Paul equal to that of Christ and equal to that of God the Father. Yet, especially among religious conservatives, I see Paul quoted easily 20 times more often than Jesus.
This is the only passage of the Bible that alludes to lesbianism. All the other places where homosexual acts are mentioned, it’s solely men who are condemned.
Now, for a little context. In Romans, Chapter 1, Paul is writing about people who have purposefully ignored God and his laws. It is God who has put these “unnatural” thoughts and urges into the minds of the unfaithful.
Paul goes on to talk about God’s judgment and wrath upon the unrighteous and those who would turn their back on God. He also makes mention of to whom the law of God applies.
And yet, Jesus Christ said that “he who believes and is baptized, is saved.” From a Christian perspective, does that mean sinning if OK because God forgives it through the sacrifice of Christ? Of course not. However, Paul seems to misrepresent the concept of eternal mercy and forgiveness altogether in this epistle, as he so often does.
1 Corinthians:9-10 – Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
In fact, when Christ died on the cross, did he not say to a repentant thief that he would join him in Heaven? The same site I used in a quote above gives a very interesting discussion on these verses. Read it here.
Since I seem to be expounding on an underpinning and not getting to my point very rapidly, let me link you to the discussion of homosexuality in the Bible on ReligiousTolerance.org.
But, again, if you are a Bible literalist and believe that the words of Paul, being an apostle of Christ, are as good as the words of God, then you must also believe this:
1 Timothy 2:11-12 – Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.
Fully 75% (admittedly, a rough estimate) of the people who have recently lectured me on the word of God as it relates to homosexuality have quoted Paul and have been women. I challenge those women to keep silent on these issues forevermore, lest they violate their own beliefs.
Sorry, you can’t have it both ways. Either the Bible is the literal word of God or it isn’t. Either the words of Paul must be accepted in whole, or not.
If a Christian can cherry pick which verses of the Bible he or she would like to apply to my life, I feel free to take the same liberty.
2) Gay Marriage is an attempt to violate the sanctity of Christian marriage
The argument here usually takes the form that marriage is a sacred rite for the purposes of procreation, and ordained by God.
In fact, Catholics believe the marriage is sanctified not through the wedding ceremony but through the act of procreative intercourse.
And yet, sterile heterosexual couples can get married. Heterosexual Buddhist couples can get married. Atheists can get married. The first seems to be a violation of Catholic tradition. The other two seem as much a violation of the sanctity of Christian marriage as gay marriage would be.
In fact, marriage in this country is civil law. And while many believe our constitutional rights and applicable laws descend from natural (God’s) law, there needn’t be any religious component to marriage at all. One needn’t believe in God. One can have an entirely different religious view (i.e., Wiccan).
Also, and I don’t need the Bible for this, every single religious wedding ceremony I’ve ever been to includes an exchange of vows. And every single one of those sets of vows has included the phrase “until death do we part.” These vows are made to God. And yet, not only does the state recognize the right of couples to dissolve marriages, almost every single Christian church does the same. Including Catholics.
True, some branches of Christianity put restrictions on divorce. In the Catholic church, one must get permission from the church for the “divorce” to be valid.
These vows were made by Christians to GOD! The state and the church support the violation of not only the sanctity of marriage, but of a holy oath. Yes, in many churches, divorce is actively discouraged, but discouragement is not the same as forbidding.
If not only the state, but the Christian church can violate the law of God, then don’t claim gay marriage is what will be the ruin of your sanctified relationship.
Secular Arguments Against Gay Marriage
1) If we legalize gay marriage, what’s to stop someone from marrying a cat, or a turtle or a chevy?
People who make this argument often cite a case in Germany, where a man “married” his dying cat. Germany recognized gay civil unions in 2001, and formally extended all the rights of marriage to same-sex couples in 2009.
The problem? The cat “marriage” isn’t legal. The officiating registrar was a paid actress. Marrying an animal in Germany remains illegal.
Japan does not recognize same-sex marriage, nor does it formally recognize any same-sex relationship. The article doesn’t mention the legality of these unions. I doubt they are recognized formally by the state, but they are by the officiating religious officials.
Clearly, the jump from heterosexual marriage to marriage to animals and inanimate objects doesn’t have anything to do with gay marriage. One needn’t “legitimize” homosexual relationships before one jumps to the absurd.
2) If we recognize gay marriage, what’s to stop us from legalizing polygamy?
That’s a fair point. But, like the marriage of “inanimate objects,” what’s to stop that challenge from being made separately from the issue of homosexual unions? The “one” part of DOMA can be challenged just as easily as the “man/woman” part.
Also, there were groups who attempted to legitimize polygamy in this country already. Were they secular? Were they Leftist or gay? Nope. They were religious.
3) Gay marriage is just another example of “special rights.”
The “special rights” argument is beginning to lose weight with me. I almost solely hear this term used in connection with gay people. For example, under federal anti-discrimination laws, all races, genders and creeds are protected, but not sexual orientations.
I have yet to hear one woman state that extending anti-discrimination laws to include women is a case of “special rights.” Same with black people. But, as soon as gay people want equal protection, then it’s somehow different.
The straw man that discriminating against homosexuality is discriminating against behavior, rather than people, is just that: a straw man. All laws restricting sexual behavior between consenting adults have been overturned. Therefore, it isn’t sexual behavior that’s being discriminated against. It’s the person.
Marriage law creates a special class of citizen. There are separate tax laws. There are laws regarding federal benefits. There are laws that recognize married couples as next of kin. While marriage is granted by the state, they are recognized on a federal level. State laws covering gay civil unions can redress some of this inequality, but not all.
While the government may have a vested interest in promoting married relationships, it does create a “special” class of citizen.
4) In a strange bit of serendipity, a friend posted a link to a Townhall post by Thomas Sowell on gay marriage as I was writing this.
Here’s what Sowell has to say.
The “equal protection of the laws” provided by the Constitution of the United States applies to people, not actions. Laws exist precisely in order to discriminate between different kinds of actions.
Correct. But Sowell doesn’t state what “actions” he is referring to. He goes on to make some lame analogy about bicycles on freeways, which frankly doesn’t make sense to me.
Is he talking about buying shoes? Disco dancing? Drinking margaritas and watching reruns of Will & Grace? What “actions” is he referencing?
Homosexuals were on their strongest ground when they said that the law had no business interfering with relations between consenting adults. Now they want the law to put a seal of approval on their behavior. But no one is entitled to anyone else’s approval.
Aha! He’s talking about sex, though he’s a coward and doesn’t come out and say so. As stated above, SCOTUS has already overturned laws prohibiting sexual behavior between adults. Thus, the gay marriage issue isn’t about “behavior.” Sowell confuses the definition of “relations” with that of “relationships.”
Analogies with bans against interracial marriage are bogus. Race is not part of the definition of marriage. A ban on interracial marriage is a ban on the same actions otherwise permitted because of the race of the particular people involved. It is a discrimination against people, not actions.
Since there is no ban on sexual behavior regardless of orientation, marriage definition laws do discriminate based on the orientation of the people involved, not the behavior. The comparison to anti-miscegenation laws is valid.
There is no reason why all those laws should be transferred willy-nilly to a different union, one with no inherent tendency to produce children nor the inherent asymmetries of relationships between people of different sexes.
But gay people do have children. Whether through adoption, or – in the case of lesbians – artificial insemination or a more “traditional” method of conception. And a gay “spouse” who stays home to care for an infant or small child is just as helpless when dumped by a provider as a heterosexual one.
All of Sowell’s further points are based on outdated gender stereotypes and a misunderstanding of applicable laws. Men who have been accustomed to a lifestyle provided them by a richer wife are entitled to alimony. Gay couples do have the right to adopt children in many states, creating the same advantages, asymmetries and economic situations encountered by heterosexual couples.
Sowell’s arguments are insubstantial and miss the mark entirely.
5) Gay people can simulate a legal relationship through contract law.
Sure. So why not repackage those various contracts into one document and call it a civil union?
I could cite case after case after case of couples who have done this and still been shafted. I’ll cite one and leave further investigation to the reader. A gay California couple, two elderly men who had all legal documentation in order – powers of attorney, medical directives – was separated and all their worldly goods sold off when one of them became unable to care for himself. They were put in separate nursing homes, and one of the men died – alone and without his partner. (Read about this case here.)
Regardless of how one feels about gay marriage itself, I hope one can clearly see the absurd inhumanity of this situation. It’s hard to see how anything but a legally defined relationship protecting next of kin status could redress a situation like this. At the very least, this would require a legally recognized civil union.
Now that I’ve made my way circuitously through the various arguments against gay marriage, let me come to my point. I’m sure you can already guess what it is.
I would prefer less government, not more. I would prefer laws governing relationships be limited to the protection of children, whether naturally produced or adopted, and that next of kin laws and rights be redefined. I have no problem with the government recognizing heterosexual marriage by definition, but as soon as laws exist which create a difference in rights, these laws are out of balance with the constitutional concepts on which this country was founded.
As such, I have to support gay marriage. I stand firmly with the stance of the Cato Institute.
No compelling reason has been proffered for sanctioning heterosexual but not homosexual marriages. Nor is a ban on gay marriage a close fit for attaining the goals cited by proponents of such bans. If the goal, for example, is to strengthen the institution of marriage, a more effective step might be to bar no-fault divorce and premarital cohabitation. If the goal is to ensure procreation, then infertile and aged couples should be precluded from marriage.
Instead, most states have implemented an irrational and unjust system that provides significant benefits to just-married heterosexuals while denying benefits to a male or female couple who have enjoyed a loving, committed, faithful and mutually reinforcing relationship over several decades. That’s not the way it has to be. Government benefits triggered by marriage could just as easily be triggered by other objective criteria, leaving the definition of marriage in the hands of private institutions. (Read Robert Levy’s commentary here.)
To me, the issue, and the logical, rational and moral decision is clear. However, this is only my opinion. I have left lots out of this post. Whether I think my opinion should be “forced” on others. Whether each state should have the right to decide for itself. Whether one state should be forced to accept a marriage contract from another state.
Consequently, I am not attempting to push an agenda. This is only my opinion, and I am entitled to it. Just as you are to yours.