Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Campaign: The Issue - Gay Marriage

Due to several exhausting 14 hour days my posting schedule has gotten shot to hell, but I'm hoping to catch up on other people's stuff soon, and maybe eventually write my own work again. Remember when I did that?

In the meantime here is the first edition of THE CAMPAIGN. David and Damo will be each diving into a particular issue each week, and then commenting on each other's thoughts. The follow up includes questions of yours in response that you'll post here and will be answered this weekend. Then Monday, we do it again, until we solve all the world's problems.

Or just talk about them.


Gay marriage is what I call a Fake Issue. It is a political situation created by politicians for the sole purpose of being a political situation. There is no defense for turning it into the issue it has become.

There are several things the government is supposed to do. Collect taxes. Form and maintain a standing army. Promote the general welfare of the public. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that Congress is supposed to have anything to do with how people express their love to one another.

The problem is the interference of the religious sector. Theoretically, we have a separation of Church and State in this country. Details (which make the girls sweat even more) such as a candidate's religious affiliation, as we all know, do have a tremendous impact on the opinions of a large number of voters. Hence, politicians are swayed towards whatever religious stance will rein in the greatest number of voters. Somewhere, I'm certain, a large amount of research was done on the precise numbers, and those who had to face the issue in their home state determined they had more to lose by alienating the religious community than they did the gay community. Somewhere along the line people stopped caring about things like ethics, transparency, and honesty. They just want to be protected from sharkbear.

My official stance is this. The religious aspects of marriage are purely ceremonial. They represent whatever beliefs the couple getting married choose to adhere to. I propose we put theory into practice and actually separate the religious and legal aspects of marriage. If a gay couple wants to receive a marriage license and have a Justice of the Peace proclaim them wed; and therefore eligible for all rights and privileges that entails; so be it. If a Church or Synagogue or Mosque or Shrine or Ebony Altar to Cthulu chooses not to recognize this, they are more than entitled not to. However, just as the government would never ask a religion to change its practices, a religion should never be allowed to influence state and federal policy. The two are not mutually exclusive, and people need to realize this.
To sum up, the Constitution says a Priest is free to perform religious functions without restriction by the law. The Priest should understand the flip side of the coin is that legal functions can go forward without considering religion.
I just want to start off by thanking the Honorable Mr. Heat for arranging this forum, and my friend the Honorable Mr. Pratt for joining me in political discourse.

First, my general thoughts on government. This nation was supposedly established based on a Constitution and a Bill of Rights. In it we are promised life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. But ever since then we’ve been fighting to remove invisible “if’s” from the concept.

A long time ago, you couldn’t really pursue happiness IF you were black. You didn’t really have liberty IF you were a woman. And you’ve definitely never had the full experience of freedom IF you are gay. You see where I’m going with this. When it comes to gay marriage, I just don’t see the problem.

In researching this piece I did a google search for “arguments against gay marriage” and lo and behold I was directed to the Mormons. On I was served a hot slice of What Would Jesus Do.

“Gay marriage is not an equal rights issue...” “Modern US society has declared that American adults have the right to marry one member of the opposite sex who’s over 18 (16 in some areas), not a direct blood relative, and not currently married to someone else. The law does not ask whether one has same-sex attraction or not when applying the law—everyone has exactly the same right, regardless. If so, what basis does the ‘equal rights’ argument have?”

To me this is an (intentionally?) ignorant interpretation of equal rights, representing the paradoxical rhetoric and/or logic of the church and its political arm, the Republican Party. Luckily, they all have exactly the same right to kiss my ass. But just like kissing my ass, there are plenty of people out there that don’t want to get down with members of the opposite sex, and a bunch of them are members of the clergy and Republicans. Just think of alllll the sex scandals (here’s a quick top 5).

Let's cut through the bullshit. This is not about the right to marriage so much as the more fundamental right to love completely and openly, with the blessing of this magnificent free society of ours, the person of your choosing. An important problem I’ve got with the anti-gay marriage movement that I’d like someone to attack vehemently is that I don’t see how gay marriage negatively impacts anyone’s rights, and I don’t buy the argument that it “violates the sanctity of marriage.”

To the state, marriage is not a religious contract, it is just a document issued by government acknowledging a union for tax and legal purposes, so there are no moral guidelines inherent in the decision to award a marriage license. Further, any church is fully within their rights to refuse to recognize a union outside of their moral boundaries. So church interpretation of the law is limiting rights, counter to the Bill of Rights, church/state separation, AND the compassion taught in the holy text’s of most religions. What’s more, these (gay) people want IN to the institution of marriage, clearly that does less to “violate” marriage’s “sanctity” than the 50+% of straight people who violate it by divorcing.

In closing, prove to me gay people are a danger to anything at all and I’ll hear you out. Otherwise, I’m just waiting on science to pinpoint the gene markers for homosexuality so we can bury this moral distraction once and for all.
Part of the Campaign involves Damo and I being allowed to read our responses ahead of time and draft a brief counterpoint. In this first instance of our ongoing debate, we've discovered we hold remarkably similar viewpoints. As such, rather than simply throw out a "Good point, Damien!" and leave it at that, we have decided that for this matter, we will band together in our response.

The issue of gay marriage is being decided in courts right now. Proposition 8 is going up for appeal before the California Supreme Court. One can only assume that should it be upheld, the case will be appealed and possibly kicked up to the federal level. Now, this will mean one of two things. Either California rules that same-sex marriage is legal and it ends there, or Proposition 8 is upheld. Should campaigners in favor of repealing the amendment actually succeed in reaching the Supreme Court of the United States, it will mean an all-or-nothing gambit for gay couples. If the courts rule in favor of Proposition 8, it leaves them with nothing. It's possible it could come up again in other states eventually, but it will be a long, long time before the movement recovers. However, if the Supreme Court rules Prop 8 unconstitutional, it provides legal precedent to legalize gay marriage across the country.

So on the one hand, you could say the question is whether or not we will see gay marriage legalized in our lifetime. I think the real question is; why wasn't it before?
Thanks, David. I'd like to take a moment to highlight one organization that has jumped to the foreground on the "Repeal Prop 8" fight in California: The Courage Campaign(.org). Just one look at the slideshow they've put together ( and my heart breaks.

People: In order for us to be secure in the freedoms this nation promises, the freedoms we each hold dear, we must be willing to fight not only for the freedoms we personally enjoy, but also for those that ostensibly are of no concern to us. Thanks to offensively narrow-minded arguments such as "we've gotten along well enough without it," a beautifully diverse group of people is subjected to a tyranny of the (moral) majority. Their pursuit of happiness is our pursuit of happiness, and IT IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR.

With any luck the California Supreme Court will overturn Prop 8, thus pounding one more nail into the coffin of social conservatism. But victory for this slice of freedom is by no means assured, and like David said, this may go all the way to the US Supreme Court. So if you believe in this cause, I urge you to consider a modest donation to The Courage Campaign.

I also want to reiterate that here at These Gentlemen we truly aspire to provide an open forum for community dialogue. Just because David and I agree on this one doesn't mean that you all do. So if you don't agree with us on this or any issue, please throw some thoughts down in the comment box and let us know what you think. Even if your words are intentionally inflammatory and/or asinine we promise a sincere response. With that, I look forward to a lively conversation!
Please post your follow up questions for Dave and Damo here - answers to come this weekend. Next week - Prostitution. And The RoundTable returns tonight or tommorow.


Daniel said...

nothing can save anyone from sharkbear. he's coming, either way.


Stephen said...

You do a great job explaining the situation and your thoughts on gay marriage, but what specific actions would you both take, as president, in regards to this issue? Why would these actions be appropriate and effective compared to others that have been proposed?

David Pratt said...

That's a good question Steve. As President, the most I can do is legalize gay marriage on a federal level. I feel this is appropriate as the language of our Constitution guarantees gay marriage as a right. It allows two people to express themselves without infringing upon the rights of others.

As far as how effective this would be, I unfortunately can't speak to that. It rests in the hands of a public which may be unwilling to embrace progress.

Ozkirbas said...

Oh, I am so excited about the prostitution debate. I'm very interested in what points are brought up