Friday, February 24, 2012

FU Weekly: History, Knocking at Your Door

History, Knocking at Your Door
by Brandon H. Bell

The following originally appeared on my personal blog earlier in the year.  When Alexa mentioned using it for one of the FU Weekly features, I said 'sure.' 

Strong opinion, uncertainty, or simple frustration at a politics gone astray--whatever one's reaction--it is useful to deconstruct the arguments, to examine, to clarify.  All too often, the hateful statements repeated over and again become the truth parroted by media consumers.  Regardless of veracity.  Here's to a bit more clarity and a bit less hate.  Or at least, a bit less utility to the hate that remains.  BB

First, read this article about anti-gay myths debunked.

And HERE's another, less scholarly article but it does reveal the social security argument's origin with AFA/James Dobson, and points out the stupidity of the argument.

Politicians such as Rick Santorum are campaigning, in part, on a platform that opposes same sex marriage, and even go so far as to suggest parents in jail are preferable to gay parents.  That's such a ridiculous statement that I'm not going to waste time with it: anyone who cares to apply some critical thinking will see it does not hold up, and if you fail to be able to do so we'll both be wasting our time.

I support same sex unions/ gay marriage, marriage equality: however you want to frame it.

The arguments against that I keep seeing and on which I'll comment:

  • Santorum's own 'Why not polyamory/polygamy then?'  and
  • 'If gay marriage, why not bestiality?'

That latter one is typically stated with a caveat that the speaker  'isn't implying the two are alike.'  Back in 2009, the last time I directly addressed such, I replied:

"Of course not. Though this is a familiar tactic. The writer innocently mentions homosexuality and [something reprehensible like bestiality]. It is just an extreme example. But of what? If they are not linked, then why mention it. This is hostile action. Read it again. Recognize it. Hostility. It sounds nice and reasonable, but it is not... Reject, reject, reject any attempts at so called reasoned difference of opinion that uses this tactic."

The polyamory/polygamy argument is more interesting (more interesting to me means that this seems a reasonable question to more people whereas those more offensive comparisons usually only come from extremists.)  It also betrays an ignorance born of a belief that what we call marriage today is a static institution that has always looked like it does.  It is not and has not.  In the past, group marriages were quite common, including in those cultures giving rise to western society.  And even when it became a union between husband and wife, the union was typically not the romantic/emotional commitment that we understand it as today.

The problem with group marriages is that typically at their center was a man whom had the rights surrounded by the woman he essentially owned.  Is it possible for polygamy to work?  Well, it did in those societies, but I think you'd be hard-pressed to find anything approximating the equality that our society deems normative.  A pure Libertarian philosophy would leave the question of polyamory/polygamy up to the participants.  But, the question specifically is: if marriage between same sex couples, why not marriage with more than two partners?  Or a dog?

Marriage is an agreement/contract, so of course the dog is a facetious--and hateful, but that's beside the point-- question.  The basic structure of marriage is an agreement/commitment between two consenting adults.  No new provisions need be made to accommodate same-sex couples.

But where the institution of marriage as understood by the United States government remains fully functional and essentially unaltered by same sex unions--the framework for the institution is extant and requires no alternation but to acknowledge those unions (essentially a contract between two parties)--what we are talking about with polygamy is a much more complex arrangement.  It is not a structure currently extant in the United States and would require laws to define it, and so forth.

Should that institution be created?  I don't know, and being a proponent of same sex marriage does not require that I do.  They would be two very different institutions even if they carried the name 'marriage.'

The tactic that I allude to above is at work here too.  It's funny, that my first post here back in 2005 was about this very topic.  Also, to be clear, while same sex marriage _from the state's POV_ would look no different than the same contract that opposite sex couples enter into, from the POV of the participants, it would mean everything that marriage entails in the hearts and minds of anyone in our society.  It would mean that they have equal rights to marry the consenting adult of their choice, just as their heterosexual counterparts are able to do.

Why not same sex marriage?  The relationships already exist, but unacknowledged for what they are.  The family's already exist, but without the protections marriage provide.  All manner of _but they can get power of attorney_ type claims fail to to acknowledge the base question: why should they have to?  Why not same sex marriage?  What are you afraid of?

Here's what I know:
  • Some people are gay.  They have the same rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
  • Your church does not have to acknowledge same sex marriage.  In fact, I encourage that if you are an opponent, express yourself through your church's policies.
  • Not all Americans share your denomination or faith.  While right now, you might imagine that 'might makes right', some day you will find yourself in the minority and you'll hope that your concerns are dealt with in a way that does not seek to impose non-empirical laws based on someone else's holy book or an interpretation contrary to your own. 
  • America is not a theocracy, but a secular state.   That's a good thing.  Our very religious forefathers left an officially Christian nation.  Turns out giving the State too much power in this realm inhibits the freedom of believers. Hmmph.
  • Sexual orientation is not a choice, and treating everyone, regardless of orientation, as equal members of society is only right.  It is not legislating privilege.
  • What 'has always been' is not a good argument.  Look at slavery.   Look at equality for women.  Look at equality in general.
  • Semantics is a game as well: turning words into something they are not.  
  • Faith is one of the greatest things in the world and I would never stain that for someone else.  But Faith is only ever something that each of us may have for ourselves.  We can live as a light, an example.  As soon as you posit yourself as holding the Truth--and everyone else better find the same as you, or else--, you essentially lay claim not to Faith but to Fact.  
  • Facts require proof.
  • Ergo, the right question is: why not same sex unions?  The framework exists, we know that gay people are real, raising families right now without the benefits that go with marriage.  History is watching, and the only right side to be on is the side of families.  Guess what?  With or without your 'permission' that includes families of same sex partners.  Who are you to deny those families what yours takes for granted?
If you want to reply, feel free.  Name calling or anything that I'd classify as Trolling will not see the light of day.  Arguments should be fact-based.  Appeals to authority are invalid unless you have the batphone to the Absolute and can conference me in for verification.  Otherwise, you are a person like the rest of us and must make your way as a human rightly should: by thinking for your self.  If your reply is one of disdain to proclaim why I 'just don't understand' or 'haven't thought through the implications' or whatnot, that is fine, but it must be a _cogent, coherent, and reasoned_ reply of disdain.  Lack of these merits is a waste of my time.

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