Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Marriage Equality

Yesterday the Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments for and against gay marriage.  I don't know all of the legal ins an outs they were considering or what the impact of their decision might mean for the broader future of the United States of America.  I'll leave that analysis to one of the many bloggers who also happen to be lawyers. 

I do know this. Even the fact that they are considering the case created a launching pad for discussions among my many friends throughout social media. Many of my friends on Facebook changed their profile picture to a giant equal sign and it led to an in depth discussion between me and my teenaged son.

As anyone that has read this blog in the past knows, I work with the show choir program at my local high school. I know this is going to sound like a broad generalization and those should probably be avoided when discussing something like civil rights and equality, but the performing arts does seem to draw more than its fair share of openly gay participants.  I don't know that the percentage of gay members is any higher or lower than any other activity.  I do think they feel more accepted in the performing arts community and as a result fewer of them feel the need to hide who they are.  (I think that's a good thing if you were wondering.)

Anyway...I got a little off track there.  All of that was just to say that I have lots of very close friends who also happen to be gay.  Politically I'm pretty conservative, but I fall firmly on the side of gay rights when it comes to marriage.  Why shouldn't two consenting adults be allowed to marry?  I seriously don't care what your sexual preference is.  Do you like to have clamps put on your nipples while getting spanked with a ping-pong paddle? Super.  Do you enjoy dressing up in a big furry rabbit costume and bumping your over-sized mascot heads together while bumping uglies?  Wonderful.  Do you prefer penis over vagina or vice versa? Awesome.  I don't care.  Enjoy it. 

I don't know every argument against gay marriage, but the two I hear the most are because it goes against tradition and the old biblical/religious argument against it.

Let me start with the tradition argument. I don't get how you can even make that argument with a straight face.  In business and life the "we've always done it this way" argument is the lamest of all.  Times change.  People evolve (hopefully).  You can keep your tradition while we start making new ones over here. 

As for the biblical/religious arguments...

I grew up in a staunchly Christan family. We attended Southern Baptist churches from the time I was born until I was in my twenties. These were the epitome of strict conservative social values. Don't drink. Don't smoke. Don't dance. Don't gamble. And for God's sake, don't associate wtih people who do.  All of those commands really led me to try, and decide I liked, almost all of those things.  I smoked, drank, danced, and gambled my way through most of my adult life.

The Bible thumpers refer to "the scriptures" when arguing against homosexuality, but it cracks me up when they reference the book of Leviticus and its condemnation of "men laying down with other men." They love to cherry pick the scripture and choose the passages they like while overlooking the rest. Maybe if they were strictly adhering to all of the laws put forth in the Old Testament I could take them seriously, but I don't recall ever seeing one of the women from the church walking around shouting "UNCLEAN" when they were menstruating. I also recall a couple of their daughters getting pregnant while they were unmarried, but I don't remember them getting stoned to death over it.

So guess what? All of the laws of Leviticus are archaic and out of place with modern society. All of them...

Here's where the discussion went with my teenage son last night.  Christians argue that gay marriage will degrade the institution of marriage and they hold up their religion as the defining reason why it shouldn't be allowed.  Our church has never come right out and said one way or another where they stand on this issue. They talk a lot about inclusion in general, but I don't expect them to start performing or recognizing gay marriages in the church. And nobody is trying to tell them they have to as far as I know.

Many churches may not believe that gay marriage fits with their beliefs and they're allowed to believe whatever they want when it comes to their religion.  They aren't allowed, however, to foist their beliefs onto the rest of society by trying to make it law for everyone. Jews and Muslims don't believe in eating pork, but I don't see them trying to get a law passed outlawing sales of pork products.

So if your church wants to allow gay people to marry and another doesn't...great. This country was founded by people seeking religious freedom.  You're free to believe whatever you want. Just don't try to force the rest of us to believe it with you.

All of that to say that I fully support the right to marry for everyone.  If you're a consenting adult I don't care what happens in your bedroom.  If you love one another you should be allowed to make it official in every state in the nation. I'm proud that my state has already made it legal and I look forward to the day when that's the case in all 50 states.

Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

Oh wait...I just thought of another argument against allowing gay marriage.  I heard this one yesterday on the evening news.  Apparently one of the aguments against was that the point of marriage was to produce children. I think it was Justice Kagan who then asked something like "If that's the case should we deny marriage to couples who are both over the age of fifty or sixty?"  I wondered sort of the same thing.  Should we give fertility tests to poeple who apply for a marriage license and deny them to the infertile?  So dumb...