Wednesday, February 4, 2009

wherein i rant a bit on a sociopolitical matter

I confess that....I'm about to get a bit political.

There are a number of issues out there that I care about, generally tending more toward social issues than other types. But there are few that I react as strongly to as the gay marriage debate. And it's been on my mind lately...both because of the Cali events last year and the "news" that the couple whose lawsuit led to the MA court ruling is getting a divorce.

I have a great deal of trouble understanding the arguments against gay marriage. Tradition is a lovely thing, but it can't be the sole justification for continuing a policy...not to fall back on an old analogy, but slavery was a tradition, as were laws against interracial marriage.

I think sometimes "tradition" is cited as a substitute for a moral or religious judgment. That's a judgment that I just don't see as being the government's decision to make. I would never say every church must be required to perform and recognize gay should be up to them to decide if it fits their belief system. And if an individual chooses not to attend or praise gay marriages, so be it. That's their right. They can marry outside their gender. But this isn't a value judgment that should be written at the government level. My husband has sometimes pondered whether the state should get out of marriage altogether and have it all be civil unions on that level. That'd be okay with me. It's the equality of opportunity before the government that matters.

It seems to me that banning gay marriage is gender discrimination. Sally can't marry Lucy because she's a woman. If she were a man, no problem. We aren't talking about children here, clearly another matter. Or even polygamy...which I feel a bit torn on but often involves an element of coercion and power issues. Two consenting adults shouldn't be limited in their legal options because the happen to share the same "parts."

The argument that gay marriage somehow erodes the institution also baffles me. I think fly-by-night marriages (a la Britney and the Vegas hubby) are more insulting to the institution. There is nothing more celebratory of marriage than two people truly in love and committing to each other. Especially when they had to really fight for that commitment to be "approved" (which they will, even if it is legal everywhere). Gay marriage has been in MA for a bit now. I don't think the world has fallen apart. In fact, I'd guess more people here would support gay marriage now than would have a few years back because they've seen that no big crisis occurred. I do worry though that the story about the couple divorcing will somehow become a weapon in this fight....even though they faced the same odds all of us who marry face.

I also think that ultimately this decision needs to be made on a national level. I understand the idea of having states call the shots...and that such a policy can let people "vote with their feet" if they so choose. But it really leads to quite a mess. Sally marries Lucy in Massachusetts. Sally and Lucy move to Virginia. Things sour and the marriage fails...not because they are gay but because that just happens. What is their recourse? They can't divorce in Virginia, because the state doesn't recognize the marriage. They can't divorce in Mass because states tend to have residency rules on divorce. Where does that leave them? They are married, but not married. Can they remarry in Virginia (maybe they are bisexual....)? What would happen if they then moved back to Mass?

In my post on Obama, I mentioned hoping for a day when we don't need to talk about a candidate's race. I hope for that same day with gay marriage...when it is "just" a marriage, no extra label.

Rambly-ranting done. For now.

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