Monday, May 19, 2008

Married Gay in the USA

Last week, the California Supreme court, in a 4-3 decision, overturned a 2000 ballot initiative defining traditional marriage, thus opening the way for legal gay marriage in California. From the right, there are screams of judicial activism overturning the will of the people. From the left are cheers, equating this to the overturn of bans on interracial marriage. And here I sit. I'm of two minds on this issue, as t really comes down to two things: the good of society and the rights of the individual.

First let's deal with the societal concerns. Without a doubt, the ideal environment to raise children is a stable, traditional family structure. This is the way we were designed to work. One of the cornerstones of this is traditional marriage. There is a reason this has been codified in law and enshrined as a sacrament. Since the beginning of recorded history, the natural pairing has been one man and one woman. And statistics have shown over the years the value of this unit. And while I, and many others, are not in the ideal group, and while there are many traditional families that are as dysfunctional as the Democrat nominating process, and even though there are committed homosexual partners that put many traditional families to shame, this does not change our societal obligation to find ways to promote this basic and (hopefully) holy union. And it may be a matter of semantics, but there is a line that we have to be careful not to cross. And that is that some unions are for the greater good.

But is it the role of government to do this? Yes and no. The states have always maintained the power to define marriage, subject to federal action when civil rights were violated, such as was the case of Loving vs. Virginia, which struck down bans on interracial marriage. (Thanks to Dave for the info) However, as with anything, the state can inadvertently, in the rush to do the "right thing", trample personal freedom and individual rights. Such was the case in the great state of Ohio when, in 2004, a marriage amendment was overwhelmingly passed (61-38%). However, despite my belief that it is best to define marriage as between a man and a woman, I voted against it. Read the text, and I'll explain:

Article XV,Section 11.
Only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this state and its political subdivisions. This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.

In essence, this not only defined marriage, but also banned any legal status for any unmarried couple. I had at least one child by then and was not married. While I didn't worry, as I was sure the relationship would work out (wow, was I wrong there), I saw there was great potential for harm.

In the end, though, it comes down to personal freedom; the freedom for two people to choose each other, share their lives with each other, and to be together until the end. We must, as a practical matter, allow two people the right to make these decisions. We must remember that love is not defined by laws or morality codes.

And that's what makes this such a messy thing to begin with....


Dave Miller said...

Patrick, thanks for the shout out. Two things have struck me as I continue to process what is going on with this issue.

1. The decision by the CA Supreme Court is being interpreted by the media and others "as a decision in support of gay marriage." It is not. It is a decision that says the amendment passed by ballot initiative was unconstitutional. As in the past, supporters can go back, fix the problem areas, and try again. The same thing happened with Prop 187 years back.

2. Gay couples in CA, under domestic partner laws, have all the rights and privileges of married couples, with the exception of a marriage license and that word, married.

Now I am sure we will get to the civil rights issue soon, but I for one, do not put being gay on the same plane as being black, brown, or any other color.

As you can guess, I have more to say, but I'll wait for some of the others to weigh in. The discussion is always better with more voices!

Patrick M said...

To clarify, I don't necessarily lump interracial and gay marriage in the exact same category. But the pro forces will, and there are some parallels on the issue. The antis, on the other hand will show their stupidity by talking about marrying dogs and trees.

One reason I cited Ohio is because there is a happy medium that can be achieved here, giving marriage its proper place as an important societal structure, but also allowing the maximum amount of freedom for the individual. Ohio is one extreme, and Massachusetts and California is where we are seeing examples of the other.

I doubt there will be many other people that comment, though. Too many people only see one side of the issue and refuse to listen to the other.

Shaw Kenawe said...

Why can't it work like this:

The religious rite of marriage should be the perview of individual religions.

Civil unions, granted by the state.


The civil union is a contract between two people and sanctioned by the state.

Marriage as a religious rite is conferred by a church, synagogue, mosque, whatever.

Who is hurt by this?

Patrick M said...

Shaw: Sounds good. Let's go with it. It's a fine middle ground and it has less government involved.

Of course, it won't hold up as idiots on both extremes start screaming.

Dave Miller said...

I'm in for that solution. But it is too liberal for the GOP.

Dave Miller said...

By the way, it should be noted that of the 4 judges voting in the majority in the CA opinion on gay marriage, only one was a Democrat. The rest were all Republicans.

Do you think it is possible that judges are activist when they make a decision we don't agree with?

Toad734 said...

Two guys in California holding hands doesn't have an affect on your marriage. Stop with the marriage is holy and the sanctity of marriage bullshit. Over 50% of marriages in the US fail. You can get married in a drive through. You (they) are not protecting marriage by prohibiting it. The only thing that threatens marriage is divorce.

Since when is the will of the people law? The will of the people was slavery, was segregation, was not letting women vote, was letting children work in factories etc. It doesn't make it law just because it is supported by the masses.

And no, since the beginning of time marriage has been one man and many women. Abraham, Jacob (Israel), Moses, Saul, Esau David (18),Solomon (700)all had more than one wife.

And you said it, a stable family structure is the best place to raise children. It doesn't have to be traditional because as I pointed out, polygamy is traditional.

Patrick M said...

Toad: A sanctified and stable marriage is one of the greatest things that can be achieved. It is something that has eluded me, but many have found. And those marriages that succeed are blessed. Your dismissal of the sacred part of marriage is what makes the rest of your arguments seem weak.

Having said that, there are far too many people that feel threatened (with little justification) over gay marriage. While we do have a responsibility to maintain some social order, this is as much a matter of individual freedom as it is a societal benefit issue

This is also an issue that should and will eventually be resolved at a state level. I will predict that in the end, Californians will probably add an amendment reapplying the overturned law. But by then, there will be enough married gay couples that the amendment will be ineffective.

Definitely more to come on this.

Toad734 said...

Im not saying marriage is useless or it sucks ass or anything like that. I am not married but will probably be married within the next two year and when I do get married, I will honor my vowes and remain faithful and all the other stuff you are supposed to do. It does have meaning and it does serve a purpose and it is sacred in some societies, just not in American or even really western society with the exception of maybe Catholics. Ironically the divorce rate in the north east is much lower than it is in the evangelical bible belt. And its those people in the bible belt who talk about how sacred marriage is when over 56% of them have been divorced. Isn't divorce what being protestant is all about?

Patrick M said...

Fair points.

And premature congratulations on your future marriage.

Toad734 said...

Well, I don't have a ring picked out or anything.

Patrick M said...

Do you at least have the woman picked out and psychologically evaluated? (something I'm going to do next time)

Toad734 said...

Well ya.