Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I'm Opposed to Gay Marriage

So Prop. 8 passed in California. The legal challenges will no doubt clog up the courts for a while, but Prop. 8 is definitely a short-term blow to gay marriage in CA and the US in general.

I've argued this at length (length!) before, but the ridiculous arguments for Prop. 8 have reinforced for me that I'm opposed to gay marriage--at least if by gay marriage we mean the government's solemnizing the sacred union of two people of the same sex. That's because I'm opposed to all such marriage.

People opposed to same-sex unions haven't noticed it yet, but marriage as a civil institution of the sort it used to be 150 years ago is already defunct. They're defending the shell of corpse. And may it molder in peace--we don't need to resurrect an institution designed in large part to relegate women to a second-class citizenship in which they couldn't own property, vote, or work outside the home (unless poor).

Civil unions can fulfill some of the duties of civil marriage (creating a legal framework for dealing with property and child-rearing), and I'm fine with that. Civil unions for all.

But the sort of marriage that most of the Yes on 8 voters defended yesterday had nothing to do with civil unions. Those voters were defending a religious covenant. And the wisdom of the First Amendment should guide us on this one: if marriage is a religious sacrament, then the government should stay the hell away from it, not enshrine it in a state or federal constitution.

Sure, as long the government continues to arrogate to itself the right to affirm the marriages of straight people, gay people should get the same treatment. But at this point that's like the government giving permission to Catholics to pray to Mary since it already gives Protestants the right to pray to Jesus. Not the government's job.

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At 9:19 AM , Anonymous ch3lk said...

Unfortunately, the people opposed to gay marriage are also people who think that there is no or at least should be no separation of church and state. Swear to Allah, my sister actually believes that the founding fathers never intended for such a separation and to do so will incur the wrath of the almighty and is precisely why things like the stock market is crashing, Katrina did so much damage, and on and on.


At 10:35 AM , Blogger Jon E. said...

True dat. I always feel that your sister and folks like her should be made to read a respectable biography of Franklin and Jefferson. Or even just Franklin's autobiography, in which he reproaches ministers for being eager to make good Presbyterians at the expense of making good Americans.

Then again, a lot--maybe most--of the founding fathers probably really didn't imagine a fundamental separation between Christianity and the federal government. They just didn't want one one particular Christian sect using the government to get the upper hand as had happened in pretty much every European country.

But, well, so what? Most of the founding fathers also didn't imagine treating blacks, Native Americans, or the Irish as full human beings. Few of them imagined granting suffrage even to white men who didn't own substantial property, and offhand I can't think of any of them who imagined granting suffrage to women.

So I'm not too sure why I'd want to treat the founding fathers' imaginations as the last word on sound social policy. They left us a visionary and adaptable document, but now it's our job to live up to the best, most progressive version of its principles as we encounter the world we live in--not the world that the founders lived in, and definitely not in the world in which the retrograde faction of the evangelical community fantasizes the founders to have lived.


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