Thursday, December 11, 2008

Challenge to Proponents of Prop 8

I guess that I got tired of preaching to the same old quior, so I would like to directly ask proponents of California's proposition 8 to address these points that I bring up:
(and remember that brevity on a subject usually best reveals your mastery of it)

- gay marriage in no way poses any threat to straight marriage, unless being seen as “special” or “not-like-them” is of essential importance to married people and their families (as was the case with black slaves in this country, who were not even allowed to legally marry each other until relatively late in our 400+ year history).

- all things being equal, gays and their families would want and similarly need the same recognition as straights. if this kind of thing is important for straights, then it's important for gays too and should not be denied to them, or their children.

- the state should in no way discriminate against or marginalize any minority. a democracy is rule by majority, but in a true democracy those rules would apply equally to everyone in it. what-ever the majority decrees on any issue applies to itself as much as to anyone else and nobody is singled out due to some kind of prejudice. our democracy is “for the people and by the people” and nobody can rightly deny that gays are people too.

- gay parents can be as good as any straight parents and do not necessarily leave a child with any personality deficits or issues around identity. in addition, being an adopted or donor-conceived child would probably be an issue for almost anybody. anybody could have issues around not being raised by their biological parents, regardless of whether their adoptive parents are gay or straight. this is not to say that all single gay parents or gay couples with children use adoption, sperm/egg donation or the services of surrogate mothers. many -- if not most -- of them have biological children of their own who they had conceived through conventional means, and are simply living up to the responsibility of rearing their own offspring.

- further on the subject of marriage and how it relates to children: marriage and parenthood are separate (albeit often closely tied and reciprocal) relational roles. having one does not necessarily imply having the other and they should not be automatically equated in any way.

here are some of the stronger arguments in support of prop 8, which i will call assumptions and try to answer as briefly as i can:

Assumption - "Government marriage benefits are designed to support an institution, the traditional family, which history has shown to be beneficial to society as a whole. Such a case has not been made for gay marriage"

Answer - gay families have just been traditionally overlooked. they exist. they always have and, whether we have known it all along or not, they HAVE been beneficial to society.

Assumption - "…the impetus for the argument (supporting gay marriage) is largely about government conferred and private benefits (Social Security and pensions) and someones notion of "economic equality." Consequently, the issue has little to do with morality or rights, and more to do with social and private contracts."

Answer - discrimination is immoral, period. do we not take gays seriously, even to the degree that we would deny them their livelihood and rightful inheritance? minorities were denied several government benefits until the onset of the civil rights movement, which is what largely prompted social conservative thinking in this country to take on more fiscal conservative thinking as part of its philosophy.

Assumption - "The discrimination lawsuit is and will continue to be the weapon gay activists use to impose a tyranny of the minority."

Answer - this argument implies that people who deny a service or make a choice to not do business with someone based on their sexual preference are not committing discrimination. this would not go over at all if we were talking about women, racial minorities or (especially) the handicapped.

Assumption - "...(opponents of prop 8 state that) 'No one is interested in forcing churches that do not want to marry people of the same gender to do so. . .' Recent events indicate that this is not true."

Answer - the short-lived legalization of gay marriage that had its brief existence before prop 8 ruined it specifically held churches exempt from having to participate. the right just made up lies to put people on the defensive (my own view is why should churches, who's "community services" are only as extensive as their views on community, be exempt from anything anyway. they don't serve the entirety of the people and they certainly don't shy away from blatant lobbying).

Assumption - "Let time and the slow evolution of culture determine how the definition of marriage plays out."

Answer - this presumes that people should place their entire lives on hold while social and fiscal conservatives continue to try to spin the views of our society. will society have to take themselves, gays and everyone else with them on another george-bush-styled train wreck in order to get to the point where they finally understand how the far-reaching consequences of practicing discrimination damage our collective psyche? it may sound mellow-dramatic, but arrogance is insidious. martin luther king said so himself and predicted many of the things that would happen to us if we did not change our ways.

Assumption - “…this is reason enough to ambiguously re-define marriage to be any two loving people who want to marry…this will ultimately be seen as discriminating to many different family arrangements. Why the number two? Why does marriage have anything to do with sex? Why not two sisters raising a family together, or three/four/five people or a mother/child or father/child arrangement? Why should society hold marriage up as a social institution at all?”

Answer - this argument wrongly states that recognition of gay marriage would confuse the kind of role that married people have with each other (that of being in love, committed and largely monogamous across the board) and the role that parents have with their children (as their material providers, emotional nurturers and legal custodians) with other family roles. if someone tries to tell their gay brother and his partner how to raise their child, those two will likely put that that errant sibling in their place, just like most any straight couple would. if some man or woman would propose to be third spouse in a lesbian couple, they might be risking their very life as a consequence. the point is that gay couples and gay parents are by and large not all that different than their straight counterparts and would likely guard their significant relationships just as jealously. gay couples do function largely the same as straight couples and have largely the same effect on society. what proposition 8 does is to actually weaken the very institution of marriage by preventing people from getting married, even if just in name. i think we all understand from personal experience the importance of equal recognition under the law, for what ever we do. it means a great deal to anyone and has a profound effect on ourselves and on our society.