Monday, April 1, 2013

I'm a Mormon, and I nonetheless don't understand why gay marriage is even an issue.

As the Supreme Court hears a challenge to DOMA, there has been significant debate, in the media and in general, regarding the topic of gay marriage. What I don't understand, however, is why the debate even exists. I do not understand at all how allowing two people of the same gender to get married could possibly have any impact whatsoever on anyone else. It doesn't, and I have yet to hear a reasonable fact-based answer to the question: Why shouldn't gay people be allowed to get married? The answers I do hear are the following:

1) The Bible forbids homosexuality.

My thoughts:

The Bible also forbids:
  • The Beatles' bowl cuts (Leviticus 19:27)
  • Cotton/Polyester blends (Leviticus 19:19)
  • Your gold wedding band (1 Timothy 2:9)
  • Braiding your hair (also 1 Timothy 2:9)
  • The ham dinner you had for Easter dinner (Leviticus 11:8)
I get that most Christians, including members of the LDS church, believe that when Christ came, he replaced the law of Moses with a higher Christian law. The thing is, he never actually said anything against homosexuality.

Taking the Bible out of the picture, though, we come to the point that modern church leaders teach that homosexuality is wrong and that as a result, so is gay marriage. That's fine. But since when is it right to impose the religious views of one body onto the whole country? Would you like it if we had a similar government system to Saudi Arabia, and if you as a non-Muslim was forced to wear a burka? The fact is, not everyone has the same religious beliefs and unless religious beliefs correspond directly to the prevention of individuals being wronged in a manner that should be controlled by law (i.e. thou shalt not kill), these religious beliefs should not enforced by law. Whether you believe that your religion is different from others because yours is the true word of God is irrelevant. Every religion believes that theirs is correct, and this does not give them a right to impose their religious beliefs on everyone else.

What does this mean for you if you believe that homosexuality and gay marriage are wrong for religious reasons? Don't marry someone of the same sex, and mind your own business. If you are that concerned about what other people are doing in the bedroom, that's more than a little weird. I recommend starting a new hobby, such as making small clay figurines of woodland creatures or constructing a model of your home out of toothpicks.

2) Civil unions are sufficient. Why do gay people want my marriage status? Why should we change the definition of marriage for them?

My thoughts:

One common thing I have heard as an argument from those who oppose gay marriage (often with a few references to the "gay agenda" thrown in for good measure) is that gay people are the ones who want to change the norm, and that they are the ones who get defensive about their positions, which therefore must be wrong.

Not to call those who follow this line of "logic" bigots, but these sort of arguments are really reminiscent of the arguments against miscegenation. The fact of the matter is, marriage is currently defined in an archaic and homophobic way, much as in the last century it was defined in an archaic and racist way. This needs to be overcome, but it shouldn't have to be. What gives straight people the right to define marriage?

As long as it is controlled by the government, marriage is simply a contract. However, society also contributes to the definition of marriage. This is why civil unions aren't sufficient. It's not just about healthcare or inheritance. It's about the fact that society has created a hierarchy that defines relationships. Why do gay people want to get married when they can just live together with a civil union? Well, why did you (if you are married) want to get married when you could have just lived together with a civil union? Some marry for religious reasons, others for financial reasons, but I would argue that the main reason people get married is because marriage symbolizes a lifelong commitment to the person you love. Gay people are just as capable of falling in love and being in a stable, committed, lifelong monogamous relationship as straight people (although given the current divorce rates that may not be saying much). On what basis, then, should they be excluded from the symbolic expression of that commitment?

Social definitions of marriage aside, as long as the government controls and defines marriage there should be no restrictions based on sexual orientation. Really, what I think would be the ideal situation is to stop the government's controlling and defining marriage. If I weren't religious, I would be completely anti-marriage for the simple reason that I don't see what right the government has to define my relationships for me. The government should control the property rights and such that are associated with marriage, but not the relationship itself. In an ideal scenario, marriage would only have personal or religious meaning, but no meaning in terms of legislation. If you wanted, you could apply to the government for the set of benefits associated with marriage, but these benefits would no longer have anything to do with marriage. Two siblings who lived together and shared resources could get these benefits, a couple who had partaken in a religious ceremony that to them constituted a "marriage" could get these benefits, a group of friends who owned a home together could get these benefits.

As the current government definitions of marriage stand, however, it is unfair to deny a government-instituted contract to people because of their sexual orientation. I feel strongly that in fifty years, this issue will be looked on in the same way as the Civil Rights movement, and it makes me sad that a lot of people I love, who I know mean well, will be on the wrong side of history.

3) It's a slippery slope--allowing gay marriage would open the doors for condoning deviant behavior like pedophilia, bestiality, and polygamy.

My thoughts:

My absolute pet peeve as far as the gay marriage debate goes is the argument that "if you allow gay people to get married, what's to prevent prevent people from wanting to marry their pets, or marrying children?" I don't mean to seem condescending, but do you see that cat over there? It is a cat. It is not a human. It does not have legal status. It cannot give consent. It cannot sign a marriage contract. Do you see that child over there? She is eleven years old. She is below the age of consent. She can't sign a contract, period.

It's not that complicated. Marriage would be between consenting adults.

As far as other deviant behaviors go, polygamy is a bit more complicated, seeing as how it would be between consenting adults. Personally, I find the idea of polygamy to be nothing more than institutionalized infidelity and that makes me nauseous. It is, however, still a completely different issue from gay marriage, and not one that would be too difficult to control: simply define marriage as being beween two consenting adults.

(Of course, the other solution would be, again, to take marriage completely off the books as far as government is concerned--see above--while still maintaining anti-pedophilia and anti-bestiality laws).

4) Gay marriage will not produce children. As a subset, 4b), gay people who adopt children will corrupt said children. Children need both a male and female influence in the home. 4c) Children who are raised by gay people will turn out to be gay themselves.

My thoughts:

4) If you're going to use this argument, take it all the way. Forbid the infertile from marrying, and ban birth control. If you want, you can even take it as far as implementing similar policies to those of CeauČ™escu's regime in Soviet Romania and employ fertility police to make sure women are popping out babies as fast and as often as possible. If you don't want these things to happen, don't use this argument.

4b) Again, if you're going to use this argument, take it all the way. Take children away from single parents and put them up for adoption. Of course, not all of them will get adopted, and many will grow up in orphanages and the foster system. Would that be better? Would it really be better to throw children into instability rather than allow them to have a stable home with one parent or parents of only one gender?

4c) Right, because children of straight people always turn out to be straight themselves.

5) Homosexuality is unnatural.

My thoughts:

That is all.

Does this mean I hate religion and Mormons and the Bible?

No. I don't see why being Mormon and supporting gay marriage have to be mutually exclusive. I go to church every Sunday. I do my visiting teaching. My husband and I aim to go to the temple twice a month. I read the scriptures every night. I pray many times a day.

The thing is, I believe that the best way to be a disciple of Christ isn't to be judgmental or intolerant. The best way to truly follow Christ and to truly be religious is to be kind, to serve others, to be accepting and to be understanding.

"But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven."--Luke 6:35-37

Other interesting, funny, and/or thought-provoking information related to gay marriage:

The Huffington Post Blog: "Gay Marriage: I Just Don't Get It" by Joe Peacock

The Most Hilariously Effective Signs Supporting Gay Marriage

"The gay marriage debate in 50 years" by The Oatmeal

"Gay Marriage - Yes or No?" by Dean Leysen