Saturday, November 8, 2008

If you don't know, now you know....

A member, supporter and extremely intelligent young gal, Tara posted an eloquent response to "The Morning After" post. I'm sorry Tara, but this "comment" is too good to be left at the bottom: "Nobody puts baby in the corner."
Without further ado, if you didn't already know what was terribly discriminatory about Prop 8, now you know.
Thanks Tara :)

After multiple debates with conservative colleagues, I feel compelled to comment on Proposition 8. I, for one, am completely devastated by the passage of this discriminatory proposition.

I think most people who read this understand this point already, but in case you do not: it is fundamentally prejudiced to deny a right to some people that the rest of society enjoys (unless, of course, there's some outstanding factor like prior criminal history, which of course homosexuals as a group do not violate). Period.

Secondly, the role of our government is NOT to step in and define people's personal lives in that way. While there is a religious aspect to marriage (or rather, some marriages), we do not live in a theocracy, so our government should not have a say in this regard.

I have heard the argument be made that passing the right for gay marriage is akin to allowing polygamists to marry. However, the difference between gay marriage and polygamy is not what polygamy does to the institution of marriage, but rather that it advances misogyny. Indeed, the very reason I oppose polygamy is the same reason I support gay marriage - all people deserve to be treated equally, and our governmental institutions should reflect that. A more apt comparison would be if a law were passed declaring that all people who partook in some marginalized religion (Scientology, Jehovah's Witnesses, maybe even Mormonism) could not marry because mainstream religions could not identify with this religion, and thus felt that people marrying within these religions undermined the sanctity of marriage. Or perhaps another analogy would be to say that anyone who did not engage in any religion at all should not be able to marry because it denigrates marriage to be an un-sacred institution.

Ultimately, marriage has already moved away from a necessarily religious ritual that involves a priest and Bible (or a rabbi and Torah, etc.), and has moved toward a symbolic, cultural (and cross-cultural) construct that signifies the committed union between two people. I would think it unfair for a particular religion to forbid marriage between two people of the same sex, but I do believe that that is where those rules can be placed (i.e. within a religion). It goes beyond the call of a government to enforce a rule that religion advances for the sole reason that religion advances it.

Where my argument fails is if one believes that homosexuality is wrong, like murder, rape, and child abuse are wrong. The government should step in to prohibit things that are fundamentally wrong. However, to me, I cannot believe that being a homosexual is wrong, just as I cannot believe that being black is wrong. Furthermore, the government has already taken the stance that homosexuality is not one of these fundamental, moral violations by not making homosexuality illegal; denying participation in a cultural event for homosexuals makes the government at best inconsistent and at worse discriminatory.

I am incredibly disappointed in Californians for letting this proposition pass. I think (hope) that this is one of those issues that we can look back on in fifty years with lenses unmarred by homophobia. It is just so sad to me that Californians were able to celebrate a huge civil rights achievement by overwhelmingly voting for our first black president while simultaneously perpetuating discrimination against another marginalized group.

1 comment:

Matt said...

"Indeed, the very reason I oppose polygamy is the same reason I support gay marriage - all people deserve to be treated equally, and our governmental institutions should reflect that."

If you believe all people deserve to be treated equally, why shouldn't the same freedom to marry be extended to polygamists? Assuming consenting adults enter into such a relationship willingly and can ensure stable, equal provision for all potential offspring, why should the government have any say in the matter?

Your claim that polygamy perpetuates misogyny may well be true, but it is not the government's responsibility to prevent its citizens from entering into potentially unhealthy relationships. It should protect those who cannot protect themselves (i.e. the children) and punish those who shirk responsibility, but has no right otherwise to dictate the behavior of its citizens.