Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thou Shalt Not...

"Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust." - Martin Luther King Jr., Letter From A Birmingham Jail

There are, in the final analysis, no good rational arguments against gay marriage. There are specious, illogical, and bigoted arguments galore for sure but they are, to a one, specious, illogical and bigoted. There are "religious" arguments to be made, but those arguments are (a) irrelevant in America, as we enjoy a separation between Church and State as regards the functioning of the law and (b) disingenuous to say the very least.

Anyone who wants to argue point (a) is in favor of a theocratic state. They should be dismissed both from your minds and from the larger public discourse. Theocracies are Dictatorships-with-training-wheels, and no intelligent American familiar with our history could support such a thing.

So, let us tackle point (b) for a moment, because I think it's an important one, and because I believe the utter hypocrisy on display continually needs to be addressed, no matter that it's been addressed before.

God tells His people in the Bible that its an abomination for a man to lie with a man (Leviticus 18:22), but he also tells His people that its an abomination for them to wear mixed fibers, to eat shellfish (Leviticus 11:10-12) and to consume pork (Deuteronomy 14:7-8). Yet, somehow, those shellfish-eating heathens and mixed-fiber-wearing sinners are still able to legally wed in this country. There is also, incidentally, a profound and unambiguous commandment against murder. Also, I seem to remember one regarding adultery: "Thou shalt...something something." And yet, somehow, murderer and adulterer alike are still able (if they ain't no homo!) to get hitched in the grand ol' US of A. Adulterers? Why, they can marry as many times as they'd like so long as they can find someone willing to officiate.

I'd like those opposed to gay marriage to explain how this makes sense at all - how its in any way "moral" or "just" or "right" to deny two loving, monogamous gay people the same legal protections and rights, the same access to the very word Marriage, that's currently enjoyed by numerous Donald Drapers all over America; to explain to me the selective enforcement of "Biblical law" that's clearly the root of this discrimination in a way that doesn't in turn make a mockery of that enforcement.

If they can do that, without tying us both into enough knots for a Three's Company reunion, I will reconsider my position on the seemingly-stark, unambiguous fact of their bigotry. I will also, in all likelihood, suddenly and improbably transform into a Unicorn.

Who exactly is being harmed when two homosexuals are able to legally commit themselves to one another? Some might say "the children" (and someone ALWAYS invokes "the children"), but those people are wrong. There is no (again reliable, rational, scientific, calculable, REAL) evidence that children of gay parents are in any way "worse off" than children of straight parents. Nor is there any evidence that having gay parents "makes you gay." So, the kids are alright, to steal the film title. And even if some kids did grow up to be gay - so what? How is it different than, say, the fear/belief that interracial households are "sociologically troublesome" for children - an argument that racists made over and over again in attempting to stop different races from marrying, from procreating, from loving one another?

On the other hand, how many people have been substantively, demonstrably harmed over the past several years by the country's (and the world's) over-elaborate, under-transparent, barely (if at all) regulated economy? How many jobs have been lost? How many children have suffered? How many marriages have ended under that strain? How many companies have folded, or downsized (or, in my favorite bit of sh*tty finessing, been "right-sized") in the wake of all of this?

I cannot make heads nor tails of current Conservative thought on this issue. The VERY SAME PEOPLE who want to ensure that two consenting adults in a committed monogamous relationship cannot say that they are "married," and who are willing to utilize the full might of the US government to achieve this result are the VERY SAME PEOPLE who demand that government deregulate industries, deregulate the markets, and generally-speaking, stay the heck outta the boardroom.

Put more simply: The folks who SAY that they want the government to have as little involvement in the lives of its citizens as possible clearly don't believe their own hype. And realizing this - knowing this with certainty - makes it easier to meet the challenge of this recurrent bigotry head-on.

MLK thoughtfully and patiently laid out the distinction between just and unjust laws in his Letter From A Birmingham Jail, and his words here serve, remarkably well, to remind us that unjust laws do not go away. There will always be a group for us to hate - be they black, or gay, or Muslim, or Martian, or whathaveyou. It is up to us to recognize this flaw in our collective character, and to work toward a greater understanding with our fellow man. It is up to us to demand just laws on behalf of our brothers and our sisters, be they black or white, Christian or Muslim, heterosexual or homosexual.

1 comment:

  1. Waffle tag!

    It’s really interesting that you mentioned that there are no logical arguments left against gay marriage. I’ve noticed that more and more that Christians who oppose gay marriage tend to couch their arguments in terms of the sacraments and ecclesiastical symbolism more so than biblical texts or theocratic hopes. It’s not that the Bible say no to gay marriage, but that the sacrament of marriage is traditionally heterosexual, and needs to stay that way. And that’s really interesting to me, because it’s the exact same argument (in overall shape if not in the details) that the Catholic Church uses to oppose female priests. Marriage and the priesthood are both sacraments that were shaky in definition at best for the first thousand or so years of Christianity, but they’re always portrayed as theological constants that can’t be altered. It’s taking history and turning it into theology.

    Part of the problem is that Christianity has always had a very complicated relationship with the representation of its own past, especially with its rather unfortunate habit of taking historical interpretations and developments and casting them backwards into the early days of church history. That is then used to imply that they were consistent and immutable doctrinal points, as opposed to a decision reached at some fourteenth century synod that could very easily have gone another way. Ecclesiastical history is the textbook case of winners writing their own history, and it leads to the really upsetting outcome of people proclaiming the textual and symbolical interpretations of some medieval bishops as theologically inarguable fact.