Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rebuttal to John Hawkins on Gay Marriage

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Recently, John Hawkins wrote a piece giving "Five Reasons to Oppose Gay Marriage", where he gave -- surprise -- five reasons why he thinks gay marriage should remain against the law. Point by point.

1. "Gay marriage is incompatible with Christianity (and for that matter, Islam & Judaism)."

He goes on to note that what you feel doesn't make you evil or bad, and that tormenting and bullying anyone because of their sexual orientation is un-Christian. All of which I would have to agree with. I haven't found any real biblical evidence that gay marriage is compatible with Christianity, and neither is any hatred or gay bashing.

Something I find odd though is how divorce has little compatibility with Christianity as well, yet, the church has no problem endorsing countless second, third, fourth and fifth+ marriages. If there were to be some level of evenhandedness I would expect there to be the same level of outrage of adultery going on in the Christian community, since that is exactly what Jesus said divorce is according to Matthew 5:32, Mark 10:11-12 & Luke 16:18, with the lone exception being divorce for reasons of sexual immorality.

So, when shall we see Prop 9 banning divorce?

2. "Gay marriage will end up infringing on religious freedom."

This one is perhaps the most confusing. Marrying who we choose is a religious freedom, but creating a law that says otherwise flies against the 1st Amendment. It should be obvious our rights have already been violated by outlawing marriage of any kind (we'll get to the gray area this creates later). Banning gay marriage from all institutions doesn't jibe with the mission of retaining religious freedom. It can't. Particularly when government becomes the sole arbiter for what constitutes a valid marriage.

Once government can grant special privilege to one class of people but not to another, then you have crossed into inequality which is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment:

"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Now, I do agree that the road we're on can lead to some religious persecution by forcing churches to marry people they otherwise wouldn't want to marry: homosexuals. However, that is the precedence being set by the religious sector fighting so hard to prevent equal rights. When you use the law as your own personal sword, what are you expecting when that sword is taken from you?

One of my favorite quotes is from Thomas Paine, "He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty, he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself."

Therefore, it is prudent to cease the attack and promote equality under the law. To be clear, I'm also not in favor of laws that give extrajudicial punishment to "hate" crimes. Someone assaulting a black man is no more egregious than assaulting me (a white man). The reasons behind the assault may be, but the assault itself should be what the punishment is based on, not necessarily on the reasoning of the attack. Otherwise the signal is that one set of people are more protected than another, and that too, is inequality.

3. "Civil unions could confer every "right" that marriage does."

Perhaps Civil Union advocates would be okay if we still segregated society? "Separate but equal", right? Other than having actual equality rather than the next best thing, the use of labels here is rather Orwellian and somewhat dehumanizing.

Reserving the power of a word for those we find acceptable to use it, it's telling those we disagree with that they're not worthy of having what they want, and we will use force to ensure that you never get it. Force is what the law is, otherwise law has no power. Using it over religious differences should be unacceptable to every American, no matter how vehement the disagreement.

Mr Hawkins goes on to say, "let's be clear: there are actually no 'rights' whatsoever at stake in the push for gay marriage...it's as much about dragging everyone else down as it is about raising everyone up." I'll forego all the pejoratives that may seem appropriate here, and try to address the facts.

There are a lot of laws on the books for marriage, not just for states but also federally. State's granting civil unions would not make these unions available for federal equality in such things as taxes, hospital privileges, health benefits, and possibly even things as simple as not being forced to testify against your spouse.

Now, I'm sure there's plenty of ways to correct all of these things in the books, but that's an awful lot of trouble to preserve a definition of something that government shouldn't be defining in the first place. Marriage is -- historically -- a religious institution, and I think all of these problems are solved by removing government jurisdiction over it and allowing churches to marry whomever they please. Restoring the 1st Amendment along with tolerance for our neighbors would go a long way in solving the issue.

4. "Gay marriage may be where it starts, but it wouldn't be where it ends."

In all honesty, John is probably right. There likely would be people wanting to marry their turtle or the tree in their backyard. So what? Do you seriously think this would happen on such a large scale that people no longer procreate? There is a stigma to being married to inanimate objects, so this wouldn't catch on like SARS. People can already bequeath their fortunes to animals so I'm not sure how much stranger our country can really get.

John is also concerned that brother will wed sister, adults will marry children, and so forth. I suppose John doesn't think these sorts of acts aren't already happening...hey, it was good enough for Adam & Eve's kids. What, no room for humor here?

At the end of the day one's marriage should be about one's own marriage. Your neighbor's vows have absolutely no bearing on your own, lest you condemn half of all marriages, in which cases we usually exercise some empathy, because who knows what our own future holds?

5. "Marriage already has enough problems as it is without gay marriage."

As a single man, I know nothing about how difficult marriage is. However, as a man who has watched his family go through countless divorces -- I literally cannot count how many divorces I've seen in my immediate family -- I do know that coming together is easier than staying together. I seriously doubt if it's any different for same sex couples, but that has much more to do with modern relationships than it does with the definition of marriage.

No matter what you call it, people will remain people, and there should be no reason to restrict privileges to each other short of violating each other's property. It's time for a new step in tolerance, one that says I don't agree with your lifestyle, but I'm not going to punish you for it. If steps aren't taken now to ensure an equal standing, the blowback that comes later will only hurt the cause of individual liberty by further using the law to push the agenda of whomever can gain the upper hand.

I think one solution is to remove government jurisdiction on marriage, allowing it to become a strictly religious institution. All legal protection should come in the form of contractual agreements with your xyz (insurance, will, bank, etc). There would have to be adjustments, but it would affect us all equally. The wrong move is to allow the federal government to decide these matters as it only gives permission to our already powerful central state to further invade our lives. That, is the last thing our country needs.

Here's to hoping for open minds.