2013-03-27 – With the Supreme Court arguments about gay marriage come and gone, I thought I would give you my take on the subject.
It comes down to this: I don’t know why the state is sanctioning marriages at all. If I were running the show, everyone—straight or gay—could be registered as domestic partners, but not as married. Domestic partners would be free to “sanctify” the relationship however they wanted and call it a marriage. But it would be no business of the state. The domestic partnership would simply represent the economic unit of a household. If children were born or adopted into the household they would have rights as well.
But no one is going this way. So my ideal world doesn’t exist. Oh, well.
The odd thing about my position is that, given the non-ideal world, I totally support gay marriage. But I don’t really buy the individual arguments that gay rights activists muster in support of gay marriage—except for one, that I will get to at the end.
I don’t accept the gay rights argument that sexual orientation is genetically determined and therefore unchangeable. What complex human behavior is entirely determined by genes and immutable under environmental stresses? If sexual orientation is like this, it is the only human behavior that is!
Does this mean that we know how sexual orientation arises developmentally? No! And we probably will never know until the furor over gay rights passes (decades from now?) and honest research can be done. Does this mean that we ought to be able to “deprogram” people? I imagine that the problem of “deprogramming” people will be solved just about the time you figure out how to “deprogram” me from speaking English. English is definitely not genetic, but it’s pretty seriously wired into my brain. (Don’t start thinking you can prevent the development of certain sexual orientations on this basis. We know how my English speaking arose. I lived in an English-speaking family in an English speaking community. What can you say about sexual orientation?)
I don’t accept that gay couples raising children is the same as straight couples (not saying worse, just different). Gay couples have an “impediment”: they don’t expose their children to the full range of human role models (they lack the ability to blame the marriage’s troubles on the foibles of the opposite sex–an important element in a child’s education). But then, I, in my straight marriage don’t expose my children to the full range either (my wife and I are both white). No one covers all the bases. We can certainly think of a wide menu of parental deficiencies that no one considers grounds for preventing a marriage—or for preventing adoption. Just one: being gay. Everyone has something that makes them unfit parents. But for everyone but gays, love is considered adequate to overcome the unfitness.
Obviously, I have a different spin on the right-wing arguments. They have some truth on their side, but not the whole truth (and plenty of lies). Genetic determinism is an easier argument to make on the side of gay rights, but easy doesn’t mean true.
To me, though, none of these arguments matter. The arguments that matter are two:
The first is: What business is it of mine? If you want a same sex partner, what do I care? If it’s me you want, I’ll be flattered but say no thanks. I am actually more concerned and threatened if you want an opposite sex partner. Straights are the people who threaten my marriage. Don’t come looking for my wife! If you are gay and want to be married, you are operating in a totally different market. So why would I care? Other than to wish you mazel tov and the pursuit of happiness.
The second argument is religious: Do not unto others that which is hateful to you. (Or the positive version: Do unto others as you would wish others to do to you.) I don’t understand religious folk who think they have a right to butt into other people’s love lives. I don’t see any exceptions built into the Golden Rule.
You leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone.
Will the Supreme Court reach this conclusion? Don’t know. And comments by the justices during oral argument may not be an indicator. (Remember the comments in court arguments about Obamacare?) The court may not even consider the morality of the subject. Their big issue might end up being the question of whether the issue should be decided at the federal or state level. If I were betting, I’d bet that the court will strike down the Defense of Marriage Act but at least partially uphold California’s Proposition 8. In other words, they will kick the marriage issue out of the federal realm and leave it up to the states.
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