Friday, November 07, 2008

Prop 8, Religion, and Government (Updated, Oops)

(Debate rule #1: Clearly frame your argument in the first paragraph. Thanks to DCD, and her comments, it's come to my attention that my first couple of paragraphs make it seem as if I was advocating compromise on the Gay Marriage debate. Nothing could be farther from the truth! I just forgot "rule #1".
In fact, I cannot believe that we are having any debate at all, in the United States of America, about giving equal rights to all Americans in 2008. The point I was trying to make(badly), was that this is a Civil Rights issue. The rights that come under the term "marriage" whether they be legal or monetary, have to be available to EVERYONE! The problem is, that the term "marriage" is a religious one, so the post below was trying to make the point that we need to remove religion from this issue.
Again, I can't believe that in America in 2008, we are having legislative action taken due to religion. This was my point: If you remove the religious term "marriage" out of what is actually an Equal Rights issue, I believe you would find almost no support for legislation such as Prop 8.)

What the hell? I've discussed Gun Control, Politics and Religion here. Why not throw out my belief about homosexual marriage. I am not trying to change any minds here. These are my thoughts on this topic.

First of all, I have read a bunch of blogs that express shock that the citizens of California passed Prop 8, revoking the right of homosexuals to marry in the state. I agree, in principle, with the outrage, but I think that the fight is taking the wrong tack.

When the founding fathers wrote our Constitution, to include the separation of church and state, many believe this was to keep church out of government. I believe they did it to keep government out of church. Remember, these men were rising up against England, and more specifically the King of England. A king who descended from another king, who decided he would tell the people of England what religion they would be a part of. The pilgrims didn't leave England because the church had too much power over government, they left because the government had become the church. So I do not believe, constitutionally, that our government can tell the Conservative Christians, nor anyone that is a part of an organized religion that believes homosexuality is wrong, that they MUST accept homosexuals.

The government CAN, however, keep anyone from discriminating against another due to their race, religion, gender, or sexual preference. IMO, this should not include marriage, because marriage shouldn't be the purview of the government to begin with! None of us should be "married" by the government, marriage is a religious practice NOT a governmental right!

I believe that if you asked many of the people in California who voted for Prop 8 if they wanted to discriminate against homosexuals, they would say no. They voted yes, because they were defending their religions' definition of marriage as they understand it.
Many people don't realize that "marriage" allows a person to make important legal decisions for their partner at the end of their lives. That "marriage" allows a couple to share insurance benefits, pass on property in the event of death, and avoid the "death" tax. They may realize that "marriage" carries some income tax benefits, but they see denying homosexuals that, as a small price to pay to protect their religious views.

IMO we need to reshape this entire issue, by removing the government from the marriage game all together. All long-term couples should be able to apply for the status of "civil union", and that union should carry the same rights for everyone. Taxes, insurance, and legal rights should come with the "civil union", and instead of divorce, a couple that splits would "dissolve" that union. The legal battles at the end of the relationship would remain the same. I believe no legislation such as Prop 8 would survive for long, if the word marriage were not involved, but instead people needed to vote directly for discrimination.

Once marriage is removed from government, then, a couple can get married within their church. If you believe that God "hates the sin" of homosexuality, stay in your prejudiced church with everyone who shares your view. If you are a homosexual couple, you can find one of the many liberal churches that are inclusive and get married there. This way the government is not involved in marriage at all. The Conservative Christians can believe that the marriages by the inclusive churches are false in the eyes of God, and revel in their knowledge that they are members of the "true" church.

I choose to believe that, if indeed there is a Supreme Being (I've called it F.U.E. in the past. Formless Universal Entity) out there, and it did have a hand in creating all of this, that FUE would not create something only to punish it for its' creation. I abhor the hatred I see pouring forth from so many people, hidden in the guise of "religion", but I don't believe we can legislate love.

We can, however, legislate equality.


DCD said...

An interesting point - as usual.

One that makes sense in my eyes. Although we both know it will never happen.

miko564 said...

DCD- I suppose you're right, but the question is why? I can only surmise it's because the people who say they are fighting to protect marriage, are really against homosexuals themselves. Again, I don't think that is most people, but quite possibly the ones who are leading the "fight" on the anti-gay marriage side.

It's weird, lots of people read this, but only you commented. I wonder why? (I mean that actually, not sarcastically. Hard to tell in print.)

DCD said...

I think it's a tough topic that a lot of people feel strongly about. It's hard to be "middle of the road" on this issue.

I'm not saying I don't think gay marriage will ever legally happen. I just think it's going to take longer then some of us would like.

miko564 said...

I'm definitely not "middle of the road" on this one. I was about to write that I think gays should have all the rights as everyone else, and I can't believe that I actually have to write that!

My argument wasn't for a middle stance; it was that the problem with this issue is that we are arguing religion, when the issue is civil rights NOT religion.

I don't give a fuck what the religious nuts want to do within their churches, and call it marriage, but the legal rights that go with that term HAVE to belong to everyone, so we should just call it something else to take it out of the religion arena.

Landshark said...

I like that you're trying to come up with ways around the bigotry, miko, and this "get the government out of marriage" idea is one I've heard before, but ultimately I don't think it holds water.

One problem with how you frame the argument in particular is regarding the church/state thing and the claim that marriage is a "religious practice." Also, it worries me when you state that you don't want Christians "forced" to accept gays.

I worry about these comments because it suggests that you think Prop 8 would have actually done such a thing, when of course no church now (or in the future) will have to accept any type of marriage they don't want. Hell, my mom and dad are still married in the fucked-up Catholic view, and that church certainly doesn't recognize that she and Burt are married.

This is why, rather than the Quixotic notion that we get government out of marriage altogether (which obviously isn't going to happen), the key is making sure people understand the difference between the two uses of the word: "marriage." Confusion and bigotry creep in when people conflate them.

1) Marriage is a term used to describe the ceremony/party that various types of groups hold to celebrate the union of a couple (or in polygamous societies, more than that). This usage has no legal standing anywhere in the Western world. It's pure pomp and circumstance, often but not always associated with religious groups.

2) Marriage is also a term used to describe a secular, legally binding agreement between 2 people, encouraged in most states in order to foster community stability.

Obviously, Prop 8 is only dealing with definition #2. I think if more of the bigots understood that their churches would never be forced to hold or accept these gay weddings, then support for the ban would drop considerably.

In any case, I'm optimistic that we're not far away on this. Sure, I was bummed out about the CA vote, and it took some of the sheen off what was otherwise a great historic day, but the big picture looks promising for gay marriage, and I think we're on the right track.

Andrew Sullivan has a blogpost on this today, and I agree.

miko564 said...

Landshark- I think it's nothing but semantics that separates us.

My point was that the word "marriage" when used in your #2 description of the word, is too easily misinterpreted by individuals who may not consider themselves as "Conservative Christians", but rather just "traditional".
I think that many older Americans would be shocked if you accused them of discrimination against groups' Civil Rights, but will tell you with a straight face that they believe marriage is between a man and a woman.
I just don't think they KNOW that they are defining marriage by your #1 and affecting the rights of others by your #2 definition.
If Education were enough, without changing the word itself, I don't think we would have seen the result we saw in CA.

(But I'm an uneducated buffoon writing a blog, so what do I know? lol)

miko564 said...

BTW, thanks for reading my drivel Shark!

Landshark said...

Yeah, I knew we agreed in general, esp. from your update.

I do think there's good reasons that most states try to encourage marriage though, by giving it special legal status.

I also worry that your approach would confirm exactly what the traditionalists claim to fear: that gay marriage is somehow an "attack" on marriage itself. If we pivoted now and said, "yeah, we want to do away with the legal entity of marriage altogether," they'd think, "I KNEW it!"

AC said...

miko- i wanted to think about this more before i commented, but in the meantime you and landshark have clarified the issues i was thinking about. i believe we all should have the same rights as each other and i can't think of any exceptions off the bat.

btw if i visit the blog but don't comment, it's cuz i am just checking in to see what's going on but may not have time to respond or anything in particular to add or want to think more about it.

Immoral Matriarch said...

I had something to say, but I became engrossed in the discussion that followed and now I can't remember what it was.

I'm getting old...

miko564 said...

Shark- Again, I don't disagree, but I don't know that I care if the traditionalists do get to say "I told you so.", as long as everyone gets equal rights under the law.

AC- I think I am going to take down that damn counter that tells me when people come by. It plays to my need for
You certainly don't need to comment on every post, I'm just flattered that you continue to read any of them after you read one.

Immoral- I don't even want to know how young you really are, it can only make me feel even older...
Thanks for stopping by though! Sorry again for the damn short story-length comment I left on your blog.