Saturday, May 12, 2012

It's About People

I had a thought earlier that went a little something like this:

“Muchacho… It’s been a while since you riled folks on your blog. Why not tackle the subject of gay marriage?”

I guess I may as well start with the crux of it, right?

I am unequivocally in favor of gay marriage. I am also straight.

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot in the past week or so, because first the state of North Carolina banned gay marriage, and then President Obama spoke out in support of it. Here’s what he said:

"I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors, when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together; when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that 'don't ask, don't tell' is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I've just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.”
Really, I think this is beautifully said. I had someone say to me on Facebook that President Obama would say anything for votes, and you know… maybe that’s true, but I also think that he could find better quotes to work toward that goal. Far more people would be swayed by him coming out in support of looser gun laws, or by him stating that he’s “pro life”, or by him.. you know… turning white. (Should I delete? Naaahhhh). I’m not sure that being an advocate for gay rights has ever really been a swing issue. Overwhelmingly, the people who are FOR gay rights are already going to be voting for him. It’s actually conceivable that he LOST votes from the conservative, Christian African Americans.

All that is fine, but you know… for the life of me, I’ll never understand why people are so adamantly against Gay marriage. Or why they care. Or why people are so threatened by the very idea of it. So much that republicans made it a ballot issue in every swing state in 2004.. You see, they knew that the best way to get people to come out to vote was to cater to their most basic bigotry, and you know.. while they were there they may as well vote for the Republican.

I do try to understand. I try very hard.

Most people saying they’re against it say that it’s a religious thing. Or they’ll say that it “destroys the institute of marriage” or that “legalizing gay marriage would open the door to other deviant behavior (such as bestiality and polygamy).” or that “allowing gay people to get married will encourage people to be gay” or that “the bible condemns homosexuality” or that… well, that’s enough for now.. Let’s tackle them, yes?

“Gay Marriage Destroys the Institute of Marriage”

I actually heard a different variation on that. A guy I worked with long ago once told me that he was against gay marriage because that would make his marriage less special, somehow. That he viewed marriage as a special club, and that if they started letting more people in, it wouldn’t be as exclusive.

I see this as essentially the same argument, at least in spirit. What I’ve always failed to understand is that folks are more than happy to hurl the “wrecks the institution” bomb at just about the drop of a hat when it comes to gay people getting married, but they always seem to conveniently ignore all those straight people who constantly slap the precious institute of marriage right in its face. Like Britney Spears who’s been married twice, (Including once for just a shade over 2 days), and is engaged for a third time. Or Kim Kardashian who was married for a hair under 3 months, and essentially admitted it was a stunt for television. I’m just bringing up famous people because we all know the stories, but there are just as many people who run off and marry a stranger in Las Vegas after a night of heavy drinking, or they get married and divorced within weeks, or you know.. all kinds of real tributes to the institution of marriage.

I can understand why people would prefer those paragons of heterosexual virtue over two committed individuals who truly love each other. Totally makes sense to me.

Rush Limbaugh recently said “"We've arrived at a point where the President of the United States is going to lead a war on traditional marriage."

I can see his point, you know.. Rush is, after all, a huge supporter of traditional marriage. He’s been married four times.

“Legalizing gay marriage would open the door to other deviant behavior such as bestiality.”

To make this argument, you have to make the presumption that homosexuality is a perversion or a deviance on par with bestiality. That is… dumb. I’m sorry, but it is. The biggest difference between these two acts is, or should be obvious. It’s consent. A dog can not choose to have sex with a human. A dog is a creature of instinct. Humans have the free will to choose. That’s, essentially the reason pedophilia is illegal too. A child can’t make that decision. That’s why it’s abuse and not love. Two adult men or two adult women can choose just as easily and logically as one of each.
Secondly, to say that gay marriage is somehow some sort of gateway to perversion is completely baseless. I know gay men and women, and to my knowledge none of them have ever wanted to sleep with their dog, or marry their cat, or say naughty things to their parrot. Gay marriage presents no more a precedent for marrying a dog, than does so-called traditional marriage. It just doesn’t. Do you know why? Because we’re talking about things that aren’t connected. It would be just as logical to say that reading the obituaries every Tuesday will make it rain in Syracuse.

“Allowing gay people to get married will encourage people to be gay.”

That makes perfect sense. In fact, I can’t believe I never thought of it before, but I need to go hang out at the ballpark. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m throwing a perfect curveball in no time. Don’t worry.. the fact that my knees aren’t any good, and the fact that I haven’t played baseball in 15 years is totally irrelevant. If I hang around some pitchers, I’m sure I’ll end up in the majors soon enough.

“The Bible Condemns Homosexuality”

Well… That’s true. The bible also features:

The Earth is created not once, but twice.
God (the omnipotent being) gets tired
Talking snakes,
Bushes that catch fire, speak, and do not burn.
Rivers turning to blood
Men of insanely old age (Noah was 500 when his sons were born)
Giants roaming the Earth.
People getting turned into salt.

That’s all in the first 2 books.

“Wait Muchacho… Wait wait wait… Those are all stories. Allegorical or metaphorical. They’re not intended to be taken literally. But the LAWS. The LAWS are clear.”

Oh… well that changes everything.

Yes, according to the Book of Leviticus, it is forbidden for a man to lie with another man.

It is also forbidden to eat the fruit from a tree that is younger than 3 years old. It is also forbidden for a man to cut his hair or shave his beard. There’s a passage that says that if you “curse your father or mother “ you should be put to death. There’s a passage that goes into detail about how if a person is a witch or wizard and sends out their spirit that they should be put to death (This particular section is the actual support of the puritan witch trials). Also it says

- Grow two different crops in the same field
- Wear clothes made of different types of fabric
- Have sex with a woman on her period
- If a priest’s daughter is a whore, she should be killed (This also presumes that priests can have children)
- People with deformities or handicaps can’t go to church.
- You can’t eat a beetle, but you CAN eat a locust.
- If a guy has a wet dream while in the army, he has to leave camp until he re-purifies himself.

My favorite- If a guy is getting beaten up, and his wife stops the fight by grabbing the other guy’s balls… you’re supposed to chop her hand off. Seems oddly specific. I wonder if Moses was in need of a bag of frozen peas.

For anyone who says they’re against gay marriage because the bible says it’s against the rules..I would urge please go to their closet and check out how many poly-blends they have hanging on the racks.

Who is the one to determine which rules are valid and which rules are old-fashioned?

This is a fairly straightforward question. If the bible is to be taken literally, as many Christians believe, I wonder why I don’t see more heavily hairy men wandering around. If it’s to be taken and then interpreted, who’s to say whose interpretation is correct?

In the end, we can argue about religion or whatever forever, and because there are a million religions with a million different views, we’ll never get anywhere. I believe what I believe, and you believe what you believe.
The question regarding why it should be YOUR religion that dictates what other people do is a valid one, and one for which you don’t have an answer. A Baptist will say the same thing as a Catholic, and they’ll say the same thing as a Jew. “Because we’re right”. Well… Prove it. There’s no unifying, official faith. People’s religions are as varied as grains of sand, and therefore governing based on religion is impossible.

If only we lived in a country founded on other principles…

Oh wait…

We live in America where there’s a very specific division of religion and government. Despite what many people believe, the USA isn’t a Christian country, at least not governmentally speaking. Some people argue that the Founding Fathers built this country upon Christian values, and they may have personally held certain beliefs, but they were very specific regarding the nature of the USA.

From The Treaty of Tripoli (Ratified in 1797, less than 10 years after the drafting of the Constitution.):

the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion”.
Thomas Jefferson was the first to overtly discuss separation of church and state when he wrote:

America shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
There’s also a section where he talks about how religion is between a person and their God, and only them. This is essentially my position regarding prayer in public schools. There’s a great distinction between being against prayer and being against public school mandated prayer. This is a distinction that is often ignored… I’m digressing. (Full disclosure… I had 12 years of Catholic school. 8 of which included multiple daily prayers.)

My point of all of this is that marriage being legal in the United States business isn’t REALLY an issue of religion, or at least it shouldn’t be. There are two kinds of marriages, and the law is only concerned about one.

If the Tofu Muchacha and I went to a Shawnee medicine man and had him “marry us”, the only folks who need to recognize that marriage are Me, The TM, and the Shawnee people. On the other hand, if the TM and I went to the courthouse and had a judge marry us, the only people who need to care are me, the TM, and the Government of the US.
Do you see the distinction?

You see… when people get all upset about gay marriage being legal or not, I don’t understand, because it has absolutely nothing to do with them. It doesn’t have to do with their religion. It doesn’t have to do with the sanctity of their religious marriage. It doesn’t have to do with them in any way. It would be like me telling my neighbor he wasn’t allowed to put up a basketball hoop in his driveway because I hate basketball.

It only has to do with those two people having the same LEGAL rights in the United States as any other 2 people. The United States is a country founded by folks who rebelled against an unjust governing body. People who were not given the same legal rights as their countrymen across the Atlantic. Oddly, I see a lot of connection.

Look… My stance Is this:

If your religion forbids gay marriage, fine. That’s on you. If you think it’s an abomination, fine. That’s also on you.

The laws of the United States are adjustable exactly because our founders had the foresight to know that times change. They knew that the people writing the laws were human, and could not possibly be expected to be exactly just at all times. They created avenues for course correction.

- Married women were not legally permitted to own property under their own names in all states until 1900.
- It wasn’t until 1975 that married women could have credit in their own name.
- Interracial marriage wasn’t allowed in many states until the 1960s. It was illegal in the state of Alabama until the year 2000.

Times change. Laws should correct to become MORE just, not less.


Annie said...

A very logical and reasoned argument... response to something completely devoid of logic.

I was just discussing this with Wes the other night, actually, because he brought up Obama having endorsed it which I DO feel is pandering. Obama isn't worried about getting more votes in the sense of swaying people to his side. He needs his (words that are going to be tired fast in 2012 ahead...) base to be energized. Get out the vote and all that. Republicans just don't have trouble actually getting people to the polls like Dems do. That's why it's pandering. He has waffled on this, if memory serves--first saying he supports it but then saying he did not support repeal of DOMA and gay people should just get a special gay thing for them (civil unions, whatev). This is a smart political move for him--the winds they are a-changing gay marraige-wise. People who otherwise wouldn't have said anything about it are supporting it (JayZ, otherwise Conservative Fbook friends...). With the NAACP recently endorsing it, I think we are well on our way to a sort of tidal wave of support which is going to make it LESS socially acceptable to decry it and those voices will get much more quiet (eventually).

I mean, Mittens is like hella anti-gay. He wants to take away all their civil rights and he has a lot of rich guys who are giving him millions to try to do so. The fact is, this COULD lose him some votes. And Obama knows he can just grab them with this move.

I guess it's pretty unreasonable to want him to not play the politics game but trust this is a chess move.

Now, as far as all the arguments you've outlined--they are quite good. Succinct, to the point, logical and blow their arguments away. The problem is---they don't really believe these things. Rush says this shit all the way to the bank and his little nasties just parrot it back. The truth is it's just different. Different makes people very uncomfortable. They've spent their lives in an environment where it was okay to hate gay people and now they're supposed to just reverse. I am not making excuses at all, as I know plenty of people who are older and take no issue. But, as I was telling Wes, the day is never going to come where his mother says, "Well, I don't like it because it's not what the norm has been my whole life and it makes me uncomfortable." Nor does she probably even RECOGNIZE that as the reason. It's complicated.

Take for example, this. They are trying to build a large luxury apartment building in my neighborhood. People are PISSED. They don't seem to have any good reason why---which isn't to say they don't have "reasons" (traffic, blah and blah) but they're just not important enough to garner the heated and emotional response. But they're not going to be at the Town Hall meeting yelling, "Well I've lived here my whole life and I'm scared that things will change!" OR "Well I don't see how it will BENEFIT me so I don't want it!"

And that's really the issue to those that aren't just blatant homophobes. It won't help them, it will change things so why bother. But that is where the winds are changing--those that didn't support it because there was no benefit to them are changing their position because now it can HURT you socially to not support it. So they say things like, "Yes, I support it but it's not a federal issue" and blah blah. But the fact is before they would've left out the part about supporting it.

I really recommend you look up more information on Gay Day at Disney. Do you know it's history? Really interesting. For the first gay event they had at DL the company sent memos to all the employees to be careful and expect a lot of trouble (of course there wasn't any more than usual).

Annie said...

I was also just re-watching Milk the other night. The Gay Day thing and Milk are not some distant memory, ya know? They're fairly recent happenings in the grand scheme. Frankly, watching Milk, I got the distinct feeling that we really haven't come THAT far. But then I thought about it and it's not the homophobes we should be expecting to change. It's that it's now a GOOD move for the President to support gay marraige.

There is no doubt in my mind that it's no coincidence that JayZ, Obama and the NAACP have all come out in support at nearly the same time. This was a calculated move to try and get Obama support with out losing whatever black voters might not like that.

I think we're in for more turbulent years ahead. Just Google "Kotaku Straight White Male". It was an article describing SWM privelege as playing a video game on the easiest difficulty, which I thought was a really good analogy. The game is still hard and you're not automatically ahead but you start out with more stat points, etc. Now look at the COMMENTS. More comments then I have EVER seen on a Gawker Media site (and that's including all the Trayvon posts). Why? Because all the SWM who read it are OFFENDED because the article is RACIST and SEXIST to THEM. And there are myriad tales of hardship wrought because of their milky white skin. Gimme a freakin' break. I think this is a tiny look at what we are headed for as the majority slowly isn't anymore. People were bringing up that there were more minority babies born and it had just happened that week!

But anyway. I'm in the camp that thinks all this ridiculousness is the dying thrashes of a society that is dominated by SWMs who will not go down quietly. I think it will get worse before it gets better. The important thing is people keep blogging their support, keep voicing it, keep telling your kinda racist friend that he's being kinda racist.


[note: My favorite bit from Kotaku comments--A woman said something to this SWM who is bitching about how his life is harder BECAUSE he is a SWM about how, when he goes on a date, he doesn't have to worry that his date might rape him. His response? Yes, well if we went on a date you would be thinking I might be a rapist. Don't you see how that hurts me? See, we all have our problems.

It would be funny if it wasn't so sad.]

[note 2: can you tell I'm bored at work? :)]