Saturday, October 04, 2008

Freedom and Gay Marriage

Most people love to advertise their support for freedom. But what galls me is when people support freedom in their words but deny it in their actions and in their voting. It is easy for us to see this hypocrisy in totalitarian regimes, but it occurs frequently in our own society. The following is a contemporary example that has been bothering me for a few years.

We hear our politicians talk about spreading freedom to other countries in one breathe, and then in the next breath we hear them advocate that we deny freedom for gays to marry. "Denying gay marriage" is an abstract term to most people, so it helps to think more specifically. What would you say if the government did not permit you to marry the person you chose? Surely that would be severe curtailment of your freedom. In the same way denying gays the right to marry is a severe restriction on their freedom.

We outlaw certain actions that cause harm to others, such as stealing. But the harm has to be real. For example, a general discomfort with interracial marriage is not a sufficient harm to justify denying people the right to marry outside their race. So what specific and real harm does gay marriage cause that would be enough to deny them the right to marry? If a gay couple living next door to you got married, how would that harm you specifically? Would that harm your marriage? If not, then what business do we have telling gays they are not permitted to marry?

3 comments:

  1. D,

    Thanks for posting this on facebook, I would never have found it otherwise. It is so refreshing to hear a fair and logical perspective on the things you write about. I often feel frustrated with Christians who cannot discuss other points of view or question what it is they believe and why, and who are threatened by those of us who do.

    Keep it up!

    A

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  2. That's an interesting point about why something should be illegal if it doesn't cause harm to others. I don't think the legal issue is whether or not gay marriage would cause harm to others. I think the legal issue is the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. In this case, the state seems to defer to the church, in that this is probably the church's definition of marriage.

    If we wanted real separation of church and state, however, the state should define marriage on its own, independent of the church definition. And the state definition should allow for same-sex marriage. Churches may not like that, but that's their problem; the gay couples don't have to get married in a church.

    The problem is that politicians are never going to support this, because the gay voting base is so small that it's not worth courting, even if the politician truly believes in gay rights. And the potential public backlash from supporting gay marriage is so strong that no one would dare to stand up for it.

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  3. I think the issue goes beyond two people in love, which is often the argument of those seeking to have their unions legitimized by the government. Marriage is and historically has been an institution created for the protection of women and children (even in cases of polygamy - think about wives vs. concubines). So, one, there needs to be a discussion as to marriage as a social institution and its function as such. Secondly, a question that doesn't seem to get any attention is why and how the US government got involved in recognizing / legitimizing marriage in the first place? Surely, gay marriage and polygamist marriages (whatever you like, even) take place all the time in secular, civil ceremonies without government interference or involvement. Why isn't that enough? Furthermore, the constitution says nothing about marriage; so why seek legitimacy from the government, especially since the outcome will only involve imposing another particular set of lifestyle concerns onto the governed? The government already interferes enough when it comes to the raising of your children, where they can go to school, sex ed and medication in school, custody cases in divorce, ad in finitum.

    That's my 2 cents. Interesting forum. Thanks.

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