Saturday, April 6, 2013

Let's Think (Instead Of Talk) About Gay Marriage...


I’m no fool. I realize that given what seems to be a widespread pro-gay sentiment in America that dissenters of gay marriage (in particular) and gay rights (in general) are going to be looked down upon in pretty much the same way that gay people were once looked down upon. But either way, it’s simply a sign of our divisive times that those who cannot—for whatever convictions they hold dear—allow themselves to be swept up in the tide of popular opinion are going to be berated and looked down on. I suppose long-time readers of my blog can (and probably will) accuse me of doing the same thing. However, my personal dissent with those who don’t agree is based on logic and reason alone…rationales I find so much superior and reliable than those who based their opinions on weaker and less reliable notions of feelings, passions, and personal beliefs alone.
But given all of the recent conversations regarding gay rights—the recent U.S. Supreme Court cases on various aspects of the issue, Erving “Magic” Johnson’s son going public with his homosexuality, and apparent changing public attitudes about gay marriage as a right—I thought I’d take a brief moment to interject some logic and reason (rather than the usual passion-driven, emotional, religious, or ideological rhetoric) into the topic. In approaching this issue, I was kind of motivated to discuss it by the 180-degree about face that Republican Ohio Congressman Rob Portman did earlier this year on his own stance regarding gay marriage. Portman, as you may or may not know last month endorsed the idea of gay marriage after years of being against it. He was, in turn motivated by his own gay son’s “coming out” to his conservative Congressman father and mother two years previously.
Not being a parent, it might seem on the surface somewhat difficult for me to place myself in the shoes of Portman, who was obviously torn between support for his son’s happiness and his own moral and political party’s convictions. In fact, I’ve witnessed the same phenomenon of torn loyalties between family and beliefs about homosexuality take place in my own personal life. Back in college, I had an older female friend with whom I shared a lot of time with. We laughed, joked, and helped each other out while we were in school. Part of the time we spent together was done so making light of the gay students on campus. We got a lot of chuckles out of the jokes…up until her own then 18-year-old son came out to her that he was gay. She was devastated for a short time, crying as she confided that she feared his being persecuted for being “different.” Eventually, she came around to accepting him for who he was, and got some community-group support for the both of them. My eventual maturity halted my making fun of gay people in such old-school thinking. But it was one of those experiences that made me see that things are often not as black-and-white as we would like to think. However, I find that such considerations for the shades-of-gray that surround many social issues like gay marriage are usually the concerns of those who’s thinking and perceptions are tainted by other considerations outside of reason and/or rational thinking.
For someone like myself, personal convictions, understandings, and experiences trump even family…and I couldn’t see myself going against them, even to support what makes my loved ones “happy.” To me, the issue of someone being against and then for gay marriage simply because they realize they have a gay relative is somewhat analogous to my own siblings doing something that I understood to be wrong and/or against my own convictions—I may love them, but I wouldn’t be supportive of what they were doing. And I simply have no respect for anyone—on the Left or the Right—who cannot stand on their personal beliefs and/or convictions come hell-or-high water. This brings me to my personal observations about the notion of gay marriage.
Many supporters of gay marriage opine that it is a “Constitutional right.” Logically-speaking, this is totally inaccurate. Marriage—gay or straight—is not a Constitutional “right.” Aside from the fact that the concept of marriage is neither implicit nor explicitly embedded language of the Constitution (unless you count “the pursuit of happiness” as being part and parcel of that such a “right,” in which case you’d have to consider the myriad of other unorthodox practices we have that make us “happy”), there is simply no “right” to be married in this country. In fact, there is no right—Constitutional or natural—that that we should even find a partner, find love, or even be loved…it is an expectation, not a “right.” It’s an indulgence in self-righteousness and self-deception to elevate personal expectations or desires to the level of “Constitutional Rights.”
In addition to the rhetorical argument, there is the purely logical argument against gay marriage. Simply stated, there is no way that anyone with a grain of intellectual reasoning could think that the Framers of the Constitution could have conceived that 2 adults of the same sex would want to freely engage in sexual relations (sodomy laws were still on the books during this period, which was what laws against homosexuality were codified under), yet alone want to marry each other (See: "Homosexuals And the Death Penalty In Colonial America"). The social and religious taboos of that period were so strong that the act of homosexuality was punishable by death. Even yes, the Founding Fathers had a great deal of foresight, but they were not seers. The inclusion of same-sex unions into the partnership of marriage was a level of thinking beyond even their ability to anticipate and legislate. Another reason why it stretches credibility to call gay marriage a “Constitutional right.”
Lastly, let’s look at where the growing support for gay marriage seems to be coming from. According to most recent polls, the overwhelming majority of support for gay marriage tends to come from those younger than 30 (See: “Young People, Flip-Floppers Fuel Surge For Gay Marriage”). But let’s not forget who these young people are; most of them are born to a generation of Americans who were born mostly to single parents. As a matter of reason, most of them have no frame of reference for the predominance of (the importance) of the heterosexual, two parent household dynamic. To them, any family regime outside of that particular traditional dynamic would not be considered a static, sacrosanct institution, and would likely impact their thinking insofar as their attitudes toward the notion of two people of the same sex being legally recognized as a marriage. This would explain partially why the support for gay marriage tends to fall off in older adults…those who were more likely to grow up under the heterosexual two-parent dynamic.

My overall point is that whenever we apply reason, rational thinking, and conviction of such thinking to a particular issue, the outcomes tend to either change based on the soundness of the challenging idea, or remain fixed despite popular attitudes. The practical application of this is that if one of my own siblings were gay, I would have the testicular fortitude to stand my ground based on my understanding of the issues as well as my personal experiences as it relates to that understanding…not bail on my convictions and my understanding of sound reasoning just because someone I know and love manifest the opposing view. Gay marriage, like most other social and economic issues should be approached based on the use of our heads and our higher reasoning, not base feelings and emotions for the simple fact that emotions can and do often impair both our critical reasoning skills and our ability to reach constructive addressing of the issues.  The fact that we have people in our lives who engage in practices that don't mesh with our individual convictions shouldn't be an influence...if you have a belief, stand firm on it...and don't be afraid what others think, or what  the masses believe.

See also: "What's Wrong With Gay Marriage And The Traditional Family" and "The Death Of The American Marriage!"

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2 comments:

  1. Though no marriage, same- or opposite-sex, is described in the Constitution, the federal and state governments do legally recognize civil marriages, and benefits are afforded to couples who are civilly married. To not afford those benefits to a couple based on the sexual orientation of those married is a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments, along with the many different anti-discrimination laws of states.

    The framers of the Constitution did live in a time where "sodomy" was punishable by death in areas, but that does not mean that those local laws were not unconstitutional. The Founding Fathers did many things that were reprehensible by today's standards. Many owned other human beings, but they did not consider them fully human. Many did not consider women true citizens. They likely could not have fathomed that there would be a firearm that could shoot multiple bullet per second, which is why the 2nd Amendment made a lot more sense then. Basing opposition to gay marriage on what the Founders felt about homosexuality means one would have to consider all of these other social mores of yesteryear valid today.

    There are more studies that show that a two-parent dynamic is ideal for raising children, but the gender of the parents is irrelevant. It is more a matter of sharing of parenting responsibilities than it is whether the parents are a man and a woman. Yes, more young people are growing up in single parent households, but it is only supposition that this a reason for the disparity in their support for gay marriage versus those of older generations. The more likely culprit is that younger generations get more progressive and accepting of groups that were reviled by the previous generation, partially because they are rebelling against the norms and partially because they see no good reason to revile said group.

    I fail to see the logic in this argument.

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  2. A well-thought-out analysis and response. However, with us both being African-Americans, let's try it from another approach:

    "What's Wrong With Gay Marriage And The Traditional Family"

    ReplyDelete