If you are silently stewing after reading my blog post with five arguments regarding gay marriage, you are not alone. One brave soul wrote a critique, and below is a the gist of my response to her.
Dear Brave Commenter,
I appreciate any respectful interaction, so thanks for the remarks! I have a couple questions/comments about your points…
1) My first point was that gay people have the same rights as straight people. I can see how you thought I was “ignoring the very rights gay people want.” I think what’s confusing is that there are two questions being asked here. The first is “does a gay person have the same rights as a straight person in marrying?” And, as I answered in the original post, the answer is yes. The second, which I believe you are actually asking, is “does a gay person have the right to marry whomever he/she chooses?” And I concede that the answer to your questions is no. But it is also true that a straight person cannot marry whomever he/she chooses. You are saying that all people should be able to marry whomever they love, whenever they want (after a legal age of consent). But marriage has not historically been based on existing love. Marriages have been entered into as a means for building a family, means of political alliance, and as a vehicle to obtain citizenship. Sometimes these marriages are arranged for the couple, and they meet at the altar. But what marriage is and has always been is based on the entering of a covenant and promising of future love and commitment until “death do us part.” Marriage is a legal contract, and the basis for entering into a legal contract shouldn’t solely be love. So what I surmise that you are proposing is actually a two-fold re-defining of marriage: define marriage as only a love relationship, and define that love as being between any consenting adults and any number of consenting adults. This may be exactly what you want, but you must concede that it is a complete overhaul of the current definition.
1B) There has been mounting evidence that many gay people (mostly gay men) are actually hoping that gay marriage will change the definition of heterosexual marriage. These advocates no longer want monogamy to be part of the definition of marriage! They think we would all be happier if we were “monogamish” (thank you, Dan Savage). So you can see that the fight here is not to slightly tweak the definition of marriage but to dig up the foundation and start over with a “new and improved” building, based on the current, trending thoughts about love and coupling. Lest you think this is being advocated by a fringe group, here is a very thorough, well-researched article that links to many of the publications encouraging this disturbing redefinition. So, you can see that we’re now comparing shiny, red apples to artificially-flavored, candy orange slices. Except that what you are advocating is that we call the orange slices apples, and pretend that the same nutritional value exists in both.
2) You state that marrying two people (I presume you mean simultaneously) should be legal, and I appreciate your honesty in admitting this, as it is consistent with a stance that is pro gay-marriage. So you just want to take marriage and make it whatever you want? It’s as though I really want to eat at a local hamburger joint, but what I want to order is quiche. So instead of finding a different restaurant, I picket, threaten to sue, wax eloquent about my RIGHT to eat quiche at that particular hamburger joint. Wouldn’t it make more sense for me to find a restaurant that’s already serving quiche? Or make my own? Why should I force an individual to change his restaurant menu just because I want to redefine the type of restaurant he owns? Quiche is not illegal. Forcing hamburger joints to serve quiche is (though not for long, I imagine).
3) I’m sure gay people do face genuine discrimination (as opposed to being told that a centuries-old institution won’t be redefined for them, which is in no way discriminatory), though I think reports have been wildly exaggerated for obvious reasons. But do you think legalizing gay marriage would really rectify all the issues you mentioned? Also, most people walk around trying to present a good public image, and everyone has something that someone could use as a basis for discriminating against them (halitosis, handicap, social awkwardness, chewing with mouth open, allergies, etc). And, for the record, I know many, many Christians, and I don’t know ANY who go around telling people they’re going to hell.
4) The evolution argument was just made before the SCOTUS last week, so it does seem relevant to this debate.
5) How can you say that marriage is part of citizens’ private lives, but their businesses are part of their public lives? What someone does sexually is part of his/her private life (presuming the act was done privately), but marriage is a public, societal institution. Your sex life, in effect, to some extent becomes public when you decide to marry. You say you want the government out of marriage, but then go on to say you think the government should be regulating everything about how those “married” people are treated. What a double standard! The Constitution (to which you strongly appeal, on the basis of equality) actually has far more to say about freedom of religion than about gay rights. “All men are created equal” does not mean that at the end of the day everyone has to have the same portion of everything – we are not communists. There are rich people and poor people and smart people and dumb people and educated people and uneducated people. The Constitution does nothing to rectify these situations, though you could argue that many were “born that way.” And, when discussing the photography court case, you advocate gay couples being treated the same as interracial couples, even though you concede (in point 3) that there are significant differences between race and sexual orientation. You refer to the photography case as being a “civil rights’ issue,” when it’s actually a religious issue. If you read the court case, you saw that the photographer’s emails to the lesbian couple were very kind, yet the potential customer claimed she was “fearful.” Why she was fearful was not explained. The photographer was not hateful, she was not rude, she did not tell the couple they were going to hell or even that their behavior was wrong. She simply said that her business did not photograph gay weddings. Her religious beliefs prevented her from doing so. The photographer’s rights should have been protected under the First Amendment! Instead, she was forced to pay for her “discrimination.” And that’s one of the scariest things about legalizing gay marriage: the government will stomp all over religious people in the name of civil rights. You can’t say you want the government to get out of marriage, but then rejoice when the government clubs people who are exercising their First Amendment rights.
Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. I do wish this debate did not lead to people feeling alienated from each other, but original marriage is as dear to me as the idea of a new kind of marriage is to you. I know that may seem disingenuous, given the number of divorces, etc, and I agree that heterosexuals have found plenty of ways to make a mockery of marriage, all on our own. But the solution is for men and women wanting to maintain the sanctity of marriage to step up, not to step down and allow marriage to be knocked down and run over in the name of “equality.”