Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Some Common Arguments Against Gay Marriage

I know I talk about this a lot. But I think about it a lot. Why? Maybe because I’ve always obsessed over what I find to be unjust. Or maybe because I’m trying to make up for lost time. But I feel the need to address it again. This time I’d like to list some common arguments against gay marriage, or against its supporters and my responses.

“I’m OK with domestic partnerships. Just don’t call it marriage.”

If it looks like a marriage. And it acts like a marriage. And it gets benefits like a marriage. And it quacks like a marriage. Then why the hell can’t we call it a marriage?

If you aren't prejudiced against gays, why do you seem to think it demeans your marriage to have it described using the same word? I guess my point is two-fold. First, if you don't have a problem with gays why do you care if they use the same word you do to describe their monogamous relationships? Second, if you do admit you have a problem with gays {maybe because your religious belief prescribes such} why do you have a problem with gays using the same word you do to describe their monogamous relationships? I don't approve of abusive relationships, but I don't in any way feel threatened by them being called marriages. It says nothing about me or my marriage.

“Marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s just what it is! You can’t change the definition.”

Why not? We’ve been changing the definition for millennia. Marriage is between one man and one woman…except when it’s between one man and several women, or one man and two women and some handmaidens too, or one woman and a couple men, or even marriage between a man and a man. Yes, that’s right. Same-sex marriage isn’t new.

“The Bible says homosexuality is an abomination.”

Why would anyone even use this argument anymore? Look, unless you’ve sworn off shellfish, are OK with slavery, want to outlaw divorce, and think it’s a great idea to follow EVERY rule in the Bible then you’re picking and choosing. Picking and choosing isn’t a bad idea. The Old Testament is filled with all kinds of crazy, awful shit {in fact reading it helped lead me to question and ultimately leave the Mormon church}. So please, pick and choose! But how about you try picking the parts that say love your neighbor, not the parts that say stick your nose into his business and tell him he can’t marry the man he loves?

Also, I don’t believe in your Bible anymore than I believe in the Siddhartha, or Dianetics, or the Iliad. And I sure as hell don’t want you making laws for me and my friends based on any of those religious texts. Let’s make laws based on group ethics, logic, and tolerance instead of superstition religious belief please.

Also, what about churches that do condone same-sex marriage? Why does your religious belief get to pre-empt their own?

“Gays and their supporters hate us. They’re bigots for calling us bigots. We don’t hate anybody. We’re not bigots. They’re boycotting us and blacklisting us.”

Well these guys are bigots. And so were these guys. “But I’m not like them!” That’s great. It’s really awesome that you don’t go around beating gays to death. But stop and think for a minute. Here’s a community of people who are all too familiar with being hated, most often by the religious. And then you come along and support the same initiatives that people like that would support. Is it really that surprising they think you hate them? You’re playing for the same team of people that do hate them, virulently. If you’ve ever found yourself thinking “I don’t want to support a group of people who can hate me so much, and call me names, and who can act like gays acted in the Prop 8 backlash” I have to ask…why can you support the aims of groups who act the way anti-gays do? Why do you base your support of a cause on the understandably emotional outbursts of a hurt minority instead of the merits of their argument? And why so much focus on the No on 8 group’s behavior? Were they the only ones behaving poorly? People act regrettably when they’re upset {even the police aren’t above reproach}. But that’s not a reason to pick sides, especially since you’d have to pick nobody’s side.

And why on earth is there all this anger about boycotts? Boycotts are nothing new. I boycott Nestle because I don’t like what they do. Will my boycotting change their behavior? Well, decades of boycott haven’t so far. But I’m still gonna do it because I’m speaking with my money. I’m saying “I don’t approve” with my wallet. To me, boycotts, like flag burning, are a form of speech, protected speech. And I will defend your right to boycott anyone you feel deserves it. LGBT persons and their straight allies are well within their rights to boycott supporters of legislation that they find reprehensible and hurtful. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. You are every bit as entitled to your opinion that homosexuality is wrong and you are free to donate your time and money to enforce that opinion. But you are not entitled to be free from accusations of prejudice for doing so.

Let’s look at the word hate and the word bigot. First “hate.”

  • dislike intensely; feel antipathy or aversion towards; "I hate Mexican food"; "She detests politicians"
  • the emotion of intense dislike; a feeling of dislike so strong that it demands action
  • Hatred (or hate) is a word that describes the intense feelings of dislike. It can be used in a wide variety of contexts, from hatred of inanimate objects (e.g. vegetables, bicycles, tables, chairs, etc...) to hatred of other people, or even entire groups of people.
  • hated - despised: treated with contempt {emphasis mine}

From where LGTB persons (and us, their supporters) stand we see a group of people so opposed to gays and having so little sympathy for gays {aka antipathy} that they felt it demanded the action of changing the California constitution {in the case of Prop 8} to outlaw them marrying each other. Their love for each other has been deemed contemptible and not worthy of protection.

Now, “bigot.”

  • a prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from his own
  • one who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; one who is strongly partial to one's own group, religion ...
  • bigoted - blindly and obstinately attached to some creed or opinion and intolerant toward others; "a bigoted person"; "an outrageously bigoted point of view"
  • bigoted - Being a bigot; biased; strongly prejudiced; forming opinions without just cause {emphasis mine}

From where LGTB persons (and us, their supporters) stand we see a group of people so intolerantly devoted to their own opinions and religions that they legislated those opinions in a way that forces other families to submit to them without just cause {not without cause, but without what I think is just cause as evidenced by this post rejecting the supposed reasons for outlawing gay marriage}.

We’re just calling them like we see them. Frankly, I’d rather be called a bigot for hating what I view as bigotry then be called a bigot for supporting causes that hurt real people {and more than just their feelings}.

And if it’s not hate, what is it? What is it that could inspire you to stick your nose in other people’s families and legislate love? Fear? Would you prefer being called homophobes? I doubt it. Is it because your religious leaders told you to? Would you prefer being called obedient drones? I doubt it. Prove to us it’s not hate. Show us an argument against gay marriage that actually makes sense and isn’t based on fear or religious belief and maybe we’ll stop thinking you have a thing against gays.

What if it were me? What if I was your friend and I told you I was a lesbian? Would you still have voted to keep me from marrying the person I loved? What if it were your son, or your daughter? Is your precious “definition” worth enough to you that you’d rather protect it then protect them? If yes, then that seems like hate to me. If no, then why on earth are you doing it to other people’s friends, and daughters, and sisters, and mothers, and brothers, and uncles, and sons, and grandmothers? These are REAL people. And this is REALLY important to them. They can’t just forget this and move on after the election is over because every day they’re reminded by society that their love isn’t valued by their neighbors and coworkers. Every day that they go home to their ‘boyfriend,’ or their ‘domestic partner’ they’re reminded that people around them find their relationship unworthy of the word ‘marriage’ because they aren’t heterosexual. So while you go home to your husband or wife and all the legal and social respect and protection that comes with those words they don’t. Please don’t forget that. Please remember that next time you just can’t understand why they think you hate them.

“It’s not the same as interracial marriage. Gay is a choice, being black isn’t.”

Oh really? “Well, OK. Maybe people are born with gay feelings, but they still choose to act upon them!” Yes, that’s right. Just like YOU choose to act upon your straight feelings. Just like you chose to marry the person you married because that was who YOU loved. You could have chosen not to. You could have chosen to marry someone else, or to not marry at all. But you didn’t. You loved who you loved and you married them. You didn’t have to ask for society’s permission. And I’m betting very few {if any} gay couples would have wanted to deny you that special day and that special commitment you made to each other. So why do you feel the need to prohibit other people’s choices? So you're against gay marriage? Don’t have one.

“I don’t want schools teaching my kids gay marriage is OK.”

*head desk*

Look, first off…government schools teach government values. End of story. They teach that drugs are bad, acceptance is good, and that the founding fathers were all freaking heroes to be worshipped {never mind their imperfections}. I promise, every school in this nation is teaching kids something that their parents don’t like. Some teach abstinence only sex ed, which I find irresponsible. But it’s impossible to create a curriculum that will please everybody. So your options are either homeschool your kid or make sure you teach them your know, parent them? If my daughter goes to a school that teaches abstinence only you know what I’ll do? I’ll teach her about safe sex myself. You know what I won’t do? I won’t fund or support a campaign to outlaw the marriages of couples who haven’t had sex before their wedding night.

That said…this is a fear-creating argument not particularly based in reality.

“Marriage isn’t a civil right.”

Oh, OK then. So then if a majority votes to say you can’t get married you’d be cool with that? I guess it’s easy to decide something isn’t a right when you’ve already got one and it’s not under attack.

What is a civil right? Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Protection from discrimination? Is marriage a civil right? Yes. I say it is. Civil marriage is a civil right. Gays have every right to pursue happiness as married, stable couples who are not discriminated against based on their sex or sexuality. By all means, don’t let them marry in your church or your temple if your religion is all hetero all the time. And don’t try to sell me that crap about the government forcing churches to marry gay couples against their beliefs. Last I checked Mormons weren’t forced to marry inter-ratial couples in the temple {nor are Mormons in Canada, where gay marriage is legal nationally, being forced to marry gays}. Protection for religion is built into the American Constitution. I promise, it’s not going anywhere any time soon. And I promise, by extending more freedom and respect and protection to gays you won’t be giving away yours no matter what the fear-mongers try to tell you.

And if civil marriage is a civil right then the majority, no matter how big, should never be allowed to vote it away from the minority.