The television and radio debates I hear about gay marriage confound me. They constantly miss the heart of the issue.
Those who oppose gay marriage immediately pull the debate toward broad critiques of homosexuality. Does God approve or disapprove? Is it natural or unnatural? Will it destroy marriage as we know it? And way too often, supporters of gay marriage get drawn into those pointless questions.
I’ve got nothing against asking those questions. They’re completely reasonable questions for an individual to ask themselves, but they have nothing to do with the public debate in a free democracy.
We don’t try to regulate what church our neighbors attend, if any, nor whether they are Republican or Democrat, whether they and their lover are married or not, all of which have important social and political implication. We consider those issues private business. Why treat marriage differently?
But opponents of gay marriage don’t want to talk about that. They pursue abstractions instead. Such as “Gay marriage threatens traditional marriage.”
With America’s divorce rate hovering around 50%, it’s hard to imagine what gays could do to hurt marriage that heterosexuals haven’t already done.
And opponents want to argue that gay marriage is wrong.
But that’s easy to fix. If you think it’s wrong, then don’t marry a gay person.
When I taught school, it was clear that some of my former students were taught by their parents to hate Jews, or Catholics, or African Americans. And I shudder to think of some of the dangerous, fringe religious beliefs some people hold dear in this country. But the only way to make it illegal is to force other people to accept my view of the world.
The simple truth is, what someone else believes, deep in their hearts, is none of our business to regulate. Even if we think the practice of those beliefs like bigotry are damaging to our culture, at some point you have to step back and accept that as long as it does no physical harm nor infringes on another’s rights, it probably can’t be regulated and we don’t want to do the police-state sort of intrusive things one would have to do to regulate it.
So if you think gay marriage is bad, teach your children it’s bad and for goodness sakes don’t enter into a gay relationship. But other than that, mind your own business.
But proponents still argue, “The Bible says it’s wrong!”
But that’s their Bible, from their religion. It’s not what everyone believes.
One of the things our forefathers believed was that everyone should be free to worship as they wish. The fact that the Bible says something is a perfectly good reason for a Christian to order their lives accordingly, but it doesn’t give them the right to force others to live out their idea of a Christian lifestyle.
What two consenting adults do with their lives is none of our business, no matter how wrong one’s individual faith might say it is. Christianity also teaches that adultery is wrong. Yet it’s not illegal. To control that, you’d have to start meddling in people’s bedrooms. That anyone would want to do that to heterosexuals or homosexuals is at best, bizarre.
There’s something else that’s never mentioned in this debate. Those trying to insure that government forbid gays and lesbians the right to marry are generally also part of a political movement that claims to want to get government off our backs.
Really? They apparently want less government involvement unless it’s something they personally want to control. And then, they want absolute control.
Those who want to tell gays and lesbians that they can’t marry strike me as awfully similar to the men in the Middle East who insist a woman cover her face or wear a burka. They seem say, “My moral view is so superior that I will not tolerate you living your life as you see fit. I know better for you than you know for yourself. And if you won’t willingly do what I say, I’ll pass a law that forces you.”
The idea that people wanted to go to the polls in California last year to make sure another adult of legal age couldn’t live in a loving, legal relationship with another adult of legal age is mind boggling. Because it’s none of our business to make that choice for others.
Gay rights forces have a slogan that says, “Can we vote on your marriage?” It sounds like a stab in the heart of opponents, but opponents would only reply, “That suggests a moral equivalency where none exists. We’re not equal. Hetero is right and homo is wrong.”
And we’re right back to judging gays as bad people.
But opponents don’t really want the argument to be about that because it sounds mean and un-American to label a class of adults involved in legal behavior as secondary citizens, entitled to lesser rights because their nature or behavior offends some. But that’s really what this is all about, judging some Americans to be less equal than others.