Monday, December 15, 2008

Marriage, Gays, and that Romantic Nonsense

Guest-post today from C. Ewing:

Go here for the full story.

"As a libertarian, I was unfamiliar with why people thought the state should define marriage, much less why it should be defined in such a way as to limit it to a certain number or sex of people. And what I found is that there is an unbelievable wealth of argument in favor of traditional marriage. And most of it is based (no, not in the fevered imaginations of what Hollywood and the media elite think religious conservatives believe) but in Natural Law. In this way of thinking, society defines marriage as a sexual union between a husband and wife, based around the ideas that babies are created via intercourse, that procreation is necessary for the survival of society and that babies need fathers as well as mothers. So the entire premise of this article is wrong, if you look at it that way."

There seem to be two competing ideas here. The first is that this simply isn't the government's place, and the second is that it's not a matter of how religion or scripture define marriage, but how society does so. If marriage is a sacrament, then I will readily concede the first. It is not the place of the government to divvy out sacraments. However, if society is the one defining marriage, and society is using legislature as the avenue in which to make that definition puissant, then doesn't the government have to get involved? Society has already pulled the government into the ring. It seems unimportant that it's not government's place, because society has forced this burden upon the government anyway.

But this only changes the shoe, not the dance. Is it society's place to divvy out sacraments? I don't think the Church (pick your referent for that noun) will be willing to share such a duty. As such, it seems society is simply overstepping its own bounds. Once the government is involved, it has little choice, but to see this as picking and choosing sides. And the fact of the matter is that this is rampant, unabashed, and largely unapologetic bigotry. The U.S. Constitution is traditionally amended to grant (and/or preserve) rights to a class of people (I'm thinking of XIII, XV, XIX, specifically, but I guess there's also XXVI), which were previously denied. Despite bowing before the masses, we have a tradition of at least eventually siding with the underdog, the minority. Even the South eventually yielded, albeit kicking and screaming the whole way.

Is this where we draw the line in the sand? This issue? Why this particular issue? I'd think voting, property rights, the right to hold office or you know, something else with an impact on the way our government and/or society actually functions would be the final straw, but marriage? A tax break and faux headaches are the end of it all?

Now, yes, states are the ones stepping in here. But that's sort of an aside. It's still a matter of society determining the stature and importance of people's relationships. If we were to arbitrarily determine that no brunettes could marry blonds we would be laughed out of town. It seems if the full power of this stance is not religious in nature, then it's simply some sort of cultural bias. We're protecting tradition for tradition's sake. But if that's so terribly valuable, why are mixed race couples now somehow "ok"? They were and to some degree (this depends largely on your region) still are "nontraditional" couplings. But that tradition was not preserved. Indeed, it's now seen by many to be somewhat hokey.

I guess, not suffering from rampant homophobia, I just don't "get it". What is being preserved? What is being protected? And what does the genitalia assortment or lack of variety of another couple have to do with another couple's relationship? Is traditional marriage weakened inexplicably by nontraditional marriages? Is changing the title of the certificate all that's needed? If it's merely a matter of preferred terminology, it seems like we could have fixed this by now.

"Now, as a member of a contemporary marriage, albeit one that isn’t so foolish as to think marriage is about gender equality or romantic love, I can honestly say that the Bible has been the only guide that has helped my husband and myself. We turn to it constantly to be reminded that the husband is to sacrifice for the wife and the wife is to respect the husband (these things don’t come naturally to either my husband or myself)."

Color me stupid, but I had thought that every wedding I had ever attended had been about...wait for it, wait for it: romantic love. Well, at least that was the impression I was under previously. And do we really need the Bible to tell us that sacrifice is necessary in a relationship? Everyone who has ever been on a date (well, maybe a second date) realizes that sacrifice is necessary. Which dessert? Which restaurant? Which movie? The list continues ad nauseum.

Perhaps, gender equality isn't always important. Perhaps, romantic love isn't always important. There are severely unbalanced marriages, and prenuptial agreements were probably established for a reason. But doesn't this just tell us that marriages come in all manners? What's one more variety? We'll just have more colors of crayons. And?

But maybe I'm missing something. Maybe there's more to this hoopla than I am giving it credit. Can someone give me a really strong argument? I'd rather not be burning straw here. Help a newb out? I'm obviously clueless. I need assistance.