Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Prop 8 Saga

I had originally intended to write about this sooner, but am glad I waited as I have really wanted to think about this and write a calm, logical post about it.  There is so much to think about here I didn't want to miss anything.  I honestly wasn't surprised by the ruling that Prop 8 was unconstitutional, at least in the eyes of the judge who reviewed it, though I wasn't really paying that close of attention to the story as it was initially developing.  I knew it was happening, but many of the events surrounding the judge, particularly his attempt to sensationalize the trial (and his rebuke by the U.S. Supreme Court), I was not aware of until recently.  The more I hear about this judge, the less the ruling surprises me.  While I initially thought there would be no way this could get to the U.S. Supreme Court (since marriage is a state issue), the judge in this case cited the U.S. Constitution's 14th amendment stating that Prop 8 denied gay and lesbian couples "equal protection" under law and the case itself was tried in federal district court.  Basically, this is now a federal case, so it is likely the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case eventually and the decision they render would have effect on all 50 states, not just California.

I've been pretty clear about my feelings on "gay marriage" in general.  I personally think there is a way for gay and lesbian couples to have the "rights" they claim they are being denied without redefining marriage and in many cases they are already available to them and others as well.  Opponents say that marriage has always been redefined, and while that is true to a degree, marriage has always been between people of the opposite gender.  Never before has marriage been defined as a union between two people of the same gender, so yes, including "gay marriage" would be a radical change in the definition.  But as I've said many times, the real issue has nothing to do with equal rights.  In New Jersey, a state which has civil unions that basically function with the same "rights" as traditional marriage, gay and lesbian activists aren't satisfied.  It has to be called "marriage", not because of any rights they are being denied, but more to bring their agenda to the mainstream and force their beliefs on others.  I find it interesting that gay activists pride themselves on being different, yet fight so hard for stuff like this to "be like everyone else."   If the rights they claim aren't there are already there, what IS the problem?

It's tough for me to really define what I think.  I have lots of gay friends, so this isn't an issue of me having some sort of vendetta against the gay community.  In the end, I have my beliefs based on how my life has unfolded and how I see things.  The reality is that the "rights" available through marriage are largely already available to anyone, gay or not, married or not.  And gays are by far the only group that cannot marry the person they want to either, so including just them in a new definition of marriage wouldn't be "equal" rights.  Unless anyone can marry anyone without limit and have access to those rights, there will be inequality.  Are we prepared to allow someone to marry more than one spouse?  How about a close relative or even a minor?  Any of those groups could successfully argue that they are being discriminated against and being denied "rights".  

It's funny that not all conservatives see this the same way either.  Sure you have religious conservatives who have beliefs about the definition and purpose of marriage, but you also have conservatives who simply believe that the government shouldn't have any role at all in marriage; that it's strictly a private contract between two consenting individuals and thus anyone can marry anyone.  I see both and the more this debate drags on the more I see myself thinking that government should just abolish marriage as a government institution and leave it to religion.  I definitely believe in the importance of a healthy marriage particularly in supplying children with not only a safe and loving environment, but role models of each gender.  Single and gay parents are certainly capable of providing loving and safe environments--that's not the issue--but I firmly believe every child needs a steady male and female role model in their life (like an everyday part of their life) and the best people to fill that role are their parents.  It takes far more than just love and support to raise a child.  Having grown up in a home where my male role model was largely absent, there are definitely things I did not learn how to do simply because there was no one around to show me; basically I know what I missed out on.  

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.  The Supreme Court is currently a majority conservative court, so there is a chance they will rule that Prop 8 is not unconstitutional since gays and all individuals are free to marry anyone of the opposite gender and are not denied basic rights.  This isn't even close to the civil rights era of the 1960s where we had people in inferior schools being denied basic protection by officers of the law and even the right to vote in many places.  And of course nothing stops anyone from living with another person of their choosing.  I hope we can come to a solution that satisfies everyone, but it doesn't look like that will happen anytime soon.  You have the far right that wants to eliminate anything close to marriage for gays and lesbians and you have the far left that wants to redefine what marriage means and calling it anything else is not good enough.  Basically, the far ends of the spectrum want to force their beliefs on everyone.  Pointing out the failures of heterosexual marriages as a reason to change the definition of marriage, though, is a weak argument too.  The divorce rate isn't high because we haven't allowed gays to legally marry; it's high because you have many people who should've never been married getting married, bad choices (like infidelity) within a marriage, AND divorce is easier than ever.  Sigh.       

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