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Prop 8

August 13, 2010

Gay marriage has come up again in California. Here’s the story. If you don’t want to click on the link then don’t, I didn’t read too much of it either. It’s not like I’m a professional or something. Yep, that’s right – another poorly researched opinion-based rant on a random topic! Today, gay marriage.

I’m a fan. Sort of. I mean personally I don’t fully support it, not that I’m religious but I feel like marriage has become sort of a religious thing. Whatever. They can have their religious customs, I don’t care. Regardless, as stupid as this sounds, to me it comes down to location. If the Christians don’t want “marriage” to be with two guys then whatever, don’t get married in a church. Beaches are nice, it’s California, go to Santa Monica. Don’t have a priest do it. Once again, it’s California, there are plenty of gay guys that can perform a fabulous nonreligious marriage ceremony.

My big thing is equality under the law. If they want to get married then fine, get married. Take all religion out of it. Either way, if a guy wants to go visit his husband in the AIDs Ward of the hospital then fine, go ahead, they’re married. What do I care. Which brings me to my second big thing – how is it acceptable to take away the rights of others on moral grounds? Yeah, I don’t really like homosexuality either, I was raised Christian and I guess some of it sadly rubbed off on me, but who am I to say they can’t be equal in the eyes of the law to heterosexual couples? What kind of person is “strongly against” homosexual gay marriage? And why aren’t they just going, “Hey, this has nothing to do with me. Why do I care? Why am I burning this many calories trying to stop something that doesn’t affect me in the slightest?”

I don’t get it though, I hear marriage sucks anyways. Gay people should be happy they legally can’t do it.

By the way, if you disagree with me on this one go ahead and leave a comment and tell me why. I want to know. I admittedly know very little on this topic, it REALLY don’t concern me at all so I don’t follow it, I’m basically just talking out of my ass (no pun intended). If I’m completely wrong and you know more than me on this one then just make your case and if you’re not stupid I’ll listen.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Aptronym permalink
    August 14, 2010 1:55 am

    One thing I’ve never really understood about the gay marriage debate is talk about second-class citizenship. Perhaps I’m not familiar enough with the legal aspect of marriage, but the second-class citizen argument always struck me as applying more to the social end of things than the political one. No law can stop two men or two women from living with each other, loving each other, and carrying out their lives. Whether or not they’re legally considered married only affects the handful of legal shortcuts and incentives put into place for married couples. Granted, I’m not familiar with the scope of these accommodations, but it seems like the greatest threat to the happiness and well-being of a homosexual couple comes from societal disapproval, and it is in this arena that the second-class citizen argument has meaning. If widespread disapproval leads to one feeling ostracized, that’s where there’s a real impact.

    Of course, the marriage issue isn’t trivial, and as I’ve pointed out, I’m not familiar enough with the legal entitlements of marriage to see where there’s an issue. Off the top of my head, I can think of a few areas, such as child-rearing, taxes, and the handling of estates, where marriage might play a factor, but it seems as if most of these issues can be taken care of fairly easily. (As easily as any nominal change that alters legal precedent can be.) Change the expectations of what constitutes a household, shift any tax breaks to something closer to the dependency system, and allow individuals to designate someone to fill the role currently occupied by “defaults to the spouse.” Not only would these open up the benefits to gay couples, but they’d make the system more versatile for everybody.

    There are a few reasons I’m not just lumping myself in with the “Allow it!” crowd. To begin with, I think the concept of marriage as a right is a bit flawed. The state has to let you pay a filing fee and sign a form to let you marry? What kind of a right is that? That’s why the “second-class citizen” argument doesn’t quite do it for me on the political front. Marriage is something that the states decided to take over and then use for some legal shortcuts. At this point, it’s basically preferred treatment for families or potential families, and it’s becoming apparent that the definition isn’t broad enough for what many want it to be. The answer isn’t to add another group to the “exceptions” category; it’s to make the system flexible enough that there don’t need to be exceptions, so that people can choose who is important in their lives and know that the framework is in place to do what’s best for them and for their families.

    Another reason is that I think I fall into basically the same group as Neoconservatarian. I’m fine with others being gay (it’s your life, so it’s none of my business), but the thought of extending the current definition of marriage doesn’t sit right with me. The reason is that the current definition of marriage that the state uses comes from a religious context. As far as I can tell, it was co-opted from Christianity, given legal precedent, and used for the last however many years until it became an issue. Normally I wouldn’t mind (it’s the state’s right to choose what it values), but in this case it’s lead to some unpleasant consequences. That is to say, if the state extends the definition of marriage it borrowed from Christianity, it’s ostensibly signifying Christianity’s approval of the altered definition. This is why so many people are up in arms about it: whether they consciously realize it or not, their religion’s right to have its own definition of marriage is being infringed by conflation with the government’s definition. That’s why I’d rather disentangle the state from the issue as much as possible: it cannot fix this in a way that won’t leave one side feeling slighted. Marriage is primarily a religious and social custom; the state’s inclusion only serves to muddy things up, especially if there is a way to replicate the functional legal benefits of marriage without the need of the state to play God.

  2. socialistocrat permalink
    August 14, 2010 10:58 am

    First of all, my response to the article: Although I believe that civil marriage is a civil right, I would be satisfied if all the idiots who oppose it just took your opinion and didn’t care about what others do.

    To Aptronym, the “second-class citizen” existence does stem from some of what you say, taxes, visitation in the hospital, etc. Unions between two people have been written into the legal code in a multitude of places and it makes many of the things we take for granted very difficult for non-traditional couples.

    About expanding the definition of marriage; There was a time when marriage was a legal contract and it was acceptable to have many wives (see: Old Testament). Marriage has been redefined so many times that it seems absurd to cling to this somewhat minor detail. I am not arguing that religions embrace homosexual unions, just that the state honor them.

    Finally, Neoconservatarian you seem to care a lot about telling us how little you care about this, and how little this effects you, and how this REALLY doesn’t matter. Something you want to tell us?

  3. Aptronym permalink
    August 15, 2010 2:46 am

    The problem is that there’s no way to divorce religion from the matter, so to speak. Any derivation or alteration of the current definition of marriage suffers from the problem I mentioned above, namely conflation between the religious and legal definitions of marriage. The only way to avoid this effect without keeping the status quo is to separate the two definitions. Generalize the existing rules to provide couples benefits without requiring a state marriage, then start to wean the people onto socially and religiously defined marriages.

    Out of curiosity, what is your opinion on polygamy? It seems like a natural follow-on to legalizing gay marriage, but there’s a good chance it would blow the existing system of privileges all to pieces. Morally, there is no argument that can be used against polygamy that couldn’t also be used against gay marriage, so allowing one would imply the other. Legalizing polygamy would require a major overhaul of marriage law that might not even succeed, so the options boil down to bending over backwards to stretch the existing system of privileges over an increasingly unmanageable frame or easing up on the controls. Note that leaving things as they are fails for obvious reasons, and that legalizing gay marriage but not polygamy fails on moral grounds, ruling out those choices for a universal solution. So which answer would you advocate?

    (Privatizing marriage through contracts is an intriguing line of thought, but I don’t really have the space to do it justice here. Suffice it to say, in my inexpert analysis, the system would be stable but require a much larger and more effective legal system than we currently possess. The privatization of marriage would cause contract law to become commonplace, and even if the supply of contract/marriage lawyers increased enough to match the demand, the courts would be flooded unless they too could be expanded to match.)

  4. socialistocrat permalink
    August 15, 2010 7:13 pm

    Polygamy changes very much the way we deal with marriages. There have always been laws preventing certain people from marrying. My parents had friends in Law School who had to get married in D.C. because it was illegal in Maryland for a bi-racial couple to marry. I don’t see the difference between discriminating between gender and race on this issue.

    Polygamy is dfferent. To discuss polygamy in this context we are engaging in the slippery slope fallacy as in, “if this then that” when there is no proof of the latter, but I’ll answer. If I could be convinced that there are people who genuinely love multiple people and it was okay with all of the parties in the “marriage” I would be open to looking at legal polygamy. Personally, I don’t see it happening and it is such a different issue then the one prop 8 discusses, still I would be willing to hear the side of that community. Polygamy was outlawed mainly to protect the young girls who were forced to bear children for a single man.

  5. Aptronym permalink
    August 16, 2010 12:33 pm

    I’ll concede you the point. It’s very unlikely that polygamy will ever be legalized. The proponents wouldn’t be nearly as numerous as the gay marriage proponents, most of those would be doing so for religious reasons and might bring in patriarchal baggage, the polyamory crowd (from a quick look at Wikipedia) that’s more aligned with the gay rights movement doesn’t seem interested in marriage, and polygamy has a history of being used for some immoral stuff. It was mostly a thought exercise, but I suppose it’s really too early to tell. The current incarnation of polygamy almost certainly wouldn’t fly. The next generation, if triples catch on as an alternative to couples? Maybe it might work, but there’s no way to study the problem now and plenty of time to deal with it then. I guess one can’t respond to a hypothetical movement very concretely…

    Because this is an interesting topic of conversation, what do you think the purpose of legal marriage is? What about the purpose of the benefits that come with it? Is it an incentive to marry, a state advocation of the family system, or simply an institutionalized custom?

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