Wednesday, December 31, 2008

How does a gay marriage threaten a straight marriage? I've heard this question asked a dozen times since Proposition 8 passed in California. While it's a valid question, it avoids THE fundamental question: How does a gay lifestyle threaten a straight lifestyle?

There's gotta be at least a perceived threat or the opposition wouldn't be so strong. So what's the deal? I have lots of answers - some way more snarky than others; I'll limit myself to the ones that make some sense (at least logically if not to us).

I think we agree the opposition is religion based, and predominantly (but not solely) Christian based at that. So why do Christianity and the homosexual lifestyle clash so strongly? The main factors are proliferation of the religion and the desire for a nurturing environment.

Christianity, and Catholicism in particular, places a high value on family and procreation - partially because promoting "traditional family values" can foster a strong community and partially because raising new generations of Christians /Catholics protects the religions's places in societal structure. More Catholic babies mean more Catholic children mean more catholic adults mean more CATHOLICS - and all of the politician clout and economic power the higher population brings.

I don't say that to be cold hearted, as I don't believe that are the overt intentions of any but a tiny handful of the religious hierarchy; I'm sure that line of thinking must have been part of the formalization process. Keep in mind Christianity was multinational from the beginning and it's existence was tenuous in many portions of the world. Judea and much of the world was part of the burgeoning Roman Empire. Factor in Judaism and the stage gets pretty crowded pretty quickly. When your religion is new, out-numbered, and persecuted you need new members quickly. Now let's add low infant survival rates into the mix - can anyone say that a policy to maximize population growth was NOT in the best interest of the religion?

So how can we as a culture solve this dilemma? I think we should look to the examples Dr. King gave us when he lead the Civil Rights movement in the '50s and '60s. Couples denied their right to marry should march, protest, and sue to win those rights. Those of us who feel Prop 8 unjust must join in the action. We need to bombard the state and federal governments with letters, e-mails, and petitions. Ultimately, I fear this cause won't be won until the U.S. supreme court involves itself; that journey is long and those undertaking it will need as much support as we can muster.

I also feel any lasting solution will require the establishment of Civil Unions as the only legally binding domestic partnerships and the subrogation of "marriages" to the religious roles they were designed to play. It"s this extreme separation of church and state that will remove much of the religious bias and leave governing to the government once and for all. Religions do not get involved in the licensing of a contractor or in the issuance of driving credentials, so why should it involve themselves with the formation of families? Doing so subtly underscores the notion that only a church-going couple could raise a healthy, happy, and stable family. I know from both first- and second-hand experience that is not true; let's remove the propaganda generation and start from there.


Seanpmach said...

I believe the easiest way to get same sex marriage passed is to do what the opposition did so well. Make the wording of the proposition or measure misleading enough to confuse the opposition. I know several people that voted yes on Prop 8, thinking that they were voting yes for same sex marriage. The commercials were misleading, bringing schools into it and so forth. Put out ads that say a yes vote for Prop 86 will help spread world peace and tranquility among mankind. Who would vote against that? Dirty tactics can work for good as well as evil sometimes. How can you fight a battle when your intentions are great but your opponent has all the tactical weapons?

Ryan said...

I think that the problem with issues like Prop 8 are that each side is unable to engage the other using terms that make sense to the other side. Instead, they use arguments that make sense in their own minds, but actually reinforce the position of their opponents.

The question of getting Prop 8 repealed or not is to engage the proponents using terms that they find convincing, for example: why are the provisions against homosexuality in Leviticus still important, while those demanding burnt offerings are not?

And so forth.

Forrest McDonald said...

While I seethe at the dishonesty from portions of the "For Prop 8" side, I can't justify using deceit to overturn the results; rather than solve the problem, that notion just clouds the issue further and makes it harder for folks to determine what they really think is right.

@Seanpmach - THAT has to be our goal. We need to identify and overcome the aspects of same-sex marriage that people oppose; follow that up with clear education regarding what the proposition wants to do and what a vote "For" and "Against" really mean and we can effect a real change in our state.

Forrest McDonald said...

@Ryan - GREAT observation that both advocates and opponents are not engaging with one another during debates on this issue; it's almost as if each side has their private arguments and almost ignores the other.

As you say, the trick for resolving this issue will be finding ways to engage the other side on their terms. Looking at strict vs. loose interpretation of the Bible is one tactic, however, that has become so common place that I suspect many folks have developed (or are developing) a rational dialogue on that.

I still maintain that discovering the underlying fear needs to be the first step; otherwise we are treating symptoms and not the illness itself. We know from experience that simply will not work.