Same-sex marriage

The current hot topic is same-sex marriage. As I said in my last post, President Barack Obama “came out” in support of marriage rights and equality for same-sex couples. After listening to a radio broadcast this afternoon in which both hosts were in favor of same-sex marriage, I got to thinking about what arguments were commonly used in defense of restricting marriage to only be between one man and one woman, and I decided to take a shot at knocking every one of them down.

So here are the most common arguments I’ve heard against same-sex marriage:

Bible says it’s wrong.
Okay, that’s cool and all that you respect the word of your religious texts, and I won’t ask you to change that stance. However, our country is not founded on the practice of any particular religion, nor do we have a national religion. If either of those were true, it might be reasonable to think our laws should be based on Biblical laws. This is not the case, though. Instead of putting laws in place because a certain religion says we should, we put laws in place which help protect our rights and provide us with safety. Also, the Bible says not to get tattoos, trim your beard, or wear polyester. I’m just sayin’.

Well, it’s still a religous institution.
Not really. Marriage is a legal issue. It determines who owns the claim to another person’s property should that person die. It determines who can be included in an insurance plan, who has visitation rights in a hospital or jail, as well as other government, employment, and medical benefits. If marriage was strictly a religious practice, marriages between atheists wouldn’t be recognized by the government. If marriage were a religious issue, which religion? Yours? Should people of a different religion than yours be allowed to marry?

Reader comment: “If the church doesn’t want to marry gay couples, they don’t have to. Gay couples could still be legally married (just like many straight couples) outside of a church.” – Sarah C.

Sanctity of marriage
First, what does that even mean? Who determines the sanctity of marriage? If we are concerned with the sanctity of marriage being infringed upon, why is divorce legal? The divorce rate in the United States is somewhere around fifty percent. In other words, half of the people pledging themselves to love one another for the rest of their lives are changing their minds and calling it quits. That doesn’t seem like a very sacred institution.

Traditionally, fathers sold their daughters to the highest bidder; whomever could offer the best dowry. Traditionally, white men could not marry black women (and vice-versa). Traditionally, American laws have been changed in light of our ever-evolving social acceptance of minority groups.

There are people who will argue that the reason marriage should be restricted to being between a man and a woman is because only a man and a woman together can reproduce. If this were a legitimate argument, one would assume these same people would be opposed to letting infertile or elderly couples marry, nor would they allow marriage between two people who simply don’t wish to have children.

Reader comment: “Last I checked, people can procreate without being married. Do people think gay couples getting married is somehow going to change the birth rate? It might change the number of orphans and foster homes.” – Sarah C.

Slippery Slope
“Marriage is the legal binding of two consenting adults.” There, now we don’t have to worry about children, animals, or inanimate objects being married.

Okay, fine, but call it something else!
Why? If it looks like marriage, smells like marriage, acts like marriage, and tastes like marriage, it’s marriage.

Morally wrong
Who says? You? Does everybody share the same moral view as you? Should every one of our laws be based on what you, personally, find to be morally objectional? Would that be a reasonable way to determine the law for an entire country? If somebody other than you decided every law should be based on their opinion, would you agree with them?

Reader comment: “The simple fact that it wouldn’t harm anyone if your gay neighbors were married instead of just living together. People would go about the same lives with their same personal moral codes, except with marriage they’d be able to visit their sick spouse in the hospital.” – Sarah C.

Sure, what I’m proposing may seem like I think laws should be based on my opinion, but that’s only because my opinion is that none of a country’s citizens should be discriminated against. Unfortunately, I will still be accused of being “intolerant of intolerance” or “discriminating against discrimination.” Y’know what? I’m okay with that. If you can’t tell the difference, shame on you.

1 May, 2011 – Osama bin Laden dead

So here I was, ready to put up a pre-written post for today. But then we had to go and kill Osama bin Laden, making just about anything not relating to that story pretty much irrelevant. Almost everything that’s needed to be said on this subject has already been covered by plenty of news stations and re-bloggers, so I’ll be keeping it short and focusing only on opinion. But now I’m torn on what I should say on the topic, so I’ll start with the obvious: were it not for Islam, Osama bin Laden would not have committed his atrocities.

A bold statement, I know. I could have just said that without Islamic fundamentalism his crimes would not have been committed, but I prefer to go a little deeper by saying that Islam is the cause of Islamic fundamentalism. Heck, I could go even deeper and say that without religious thought, Islam would not exist, would not create fundamentalism, would not have spawned al Qaeda and the Taliban, would not have caused people to become so engrossed in their religion that they would be so willing to murder thousands of people in the name of their god.

One cannot take the stance of the apologist in this situation and say “well, not all Muslims are fundamentalists.” While technically true, you are employing the “No true Scotsman” fallacy: no true Muslim/Christian/believer would commit such atrocities. I bet the jihadists would beg to differ – perhaps to them, no true Muslim would allow all of us infidels to live. When a holy book is so open to interpretation one cannot claim misinterpretation. When read into just so, a holy book and its texts within can be taken to mean whatever the reader can imagine.

With that cleared up, let’s move on to the part where I’m not really sure what to think. This is, of course, in regards to his death. I’ll just throw this out right now: I’m a pacifist. I don’t buy into the “an eye for an eye” philosophy. I do believe wrongdoing should be met with punishment, but a murderer need not be murdered in order for justice to be had. Yes, the world will absolutely be a better place now that Osama bin Laden won’t personally or physically be influencing anything that happens. But was his terrorist faction really so weak that his lasting influence will not reign over them still? He commanded such respect from his followers, that I very much doubt they will simply lay down their arms to us in surrender. If anything, we may expect them to be re-energized now that they have their ultimate martyr.

So what should we have done? I really don’t know. That’s why I’m torn. Had he been captured alive, his followers would surely go to whatever measures necessary to have him released, or to release him themselves. But the killing of one [albeit very guilty] man does not suddenly bring the thousands back to life for whose deaths he was responsible, nor does it make their deaths any less tragic or painful.

Someone said, “I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy.”

EDIT: I’m aware that Osama bin Laden went down fighting; that our Navy SEALs didn’t really have a choice as to whether or not they should kill him. In fact, it was reported that they would have rather taken him alive. What I meant to express before is that I don’t know whether I think it would have been better if they’d managed to catch him alive. He’d be executed anyway, so I suppose that doesn’t really matter. What I disagree with is all the celebration of his death. I think it’s ridiculous, and perhaps a bit sad, that people are singing and dancing and laughing at his death. He was a monster, there’s no doubt about that, and perhaps he even deserved to die, but no death warrants celebration.