Ways Conservatives are (Maybe?) Wrong, Part 1: Adam and Steve
Unless today is your first time looking at this journal– and if it is, a hearty hello!– then you know that I tend toward a more conservative bent. Like most human beings with functioning brain cells (and many who don’t) I also tend to think I am always right all the time. Is that so bad?
I’ve always been baffled by people who say “you think you’re always right!” as if it was an insult. Who goes around thinking they’re mostly wrong? “Sure, I’m gonna vote for Senator Joe Schmoe, but you probably shouldn’t. My political opinions are totally wrong. I’m just too stubborn to give them up.” Nobody thinks that, even (and especially) if it’s true. We all live in our own heads, so I suspect we can be forgiven for thinking that the opinions we share that head with are all pretty awesome.
“Psst! I’m just gonna say it: you’re always right all the time!”
Still, there is such a thing as too much certainty. As I have said elsewhere, none of us is perfectly correct about everything. It behooves us to ask ourselves what we– and the cultures of opinion that we most identify with– might end up being wrong about. For instance, if someone asks you to name one bad thing about your chosen political worldview, and your response is “well, we’re just right way too much of the time, and that intimidates the sheeple!”, then it might be time to question your objectivity.
If, on the other hand, you can acknowledge some issues where your political homies might be a little off, then congratulations, you might have a functioning sense of individuality and respect for honest debate. Furthermore, if you tend to disagree with your ideological brethren on almost every issue imaginable, then thank you for reading, Senator McCain.
Thank you and drive safely.
If you are a conservative, then buckle your mental seatbelt and prepare to write a long, pithy refutation in the comments section (I will read them with great interest). If you are not a conservative, well, enjoy. In the following weeks, I will be offering up thoughts on a few issues where conservative culture might be… er… wrong. Today’s topic:
I will start this by saying that I really just don’t see what the big deal is. I do think that it is curious that the popular media is making such an issue out of gay marriage at a time when marriage between heterosexuals is on a dramatic decline.
“The straights won’t mind. They aren’t using it anyway…”
That aside, I’ve seen the arguments from both perspectives. I suppose it is important to mention that no one is looking to ban gay marriage. Some, however, wish to prevent gay marriage from being legally recognized in a civil sense. There are myriad reasons why, but it seems to me that it all boils down to one thing (and no, it isn’t rampant homophobia): it is the belief that homosexuality is simply not the ideal method for humans to flourish, and therefore should not be sanctioned by the State.
Er, why not?
Even if one believes that homosexuality is morally aberrant, is that any of the government’s business? Thinking about this purely objectively, it seems obvious that government should not be in the business of legislating morality. It isn’t just that it doesn’t work (morality is a personal dynamic; it cannot be enforced from outside). It is simply that America is not a theocracy. Regardless of what we as individuals– or even, if it were possible, as an aggregate– believe about moral laws, we cannot make secular laws based on them.
Laws protect individual freedom, so long as that freedom does not impede the freedoms of anyone else. This means people are free to do things you do not approve of.
And sometimes that’s the whole point.
Thus, putting aside all moral discussions about homosexuality (a monumental undertaking for people on both sides of the issue), what is the secular argument against legally recognizing gay marriages?
It can’t be any of this talk about marriage being for making babies, otherwise old people would not be allowed to marry.
It can’t be that heterosexual marriage is the traditional legal definition. Slavery was also legally traditional for most of human history but that was no excuse for keeping it around.
It can’t be the somewhat abstruse argument that legalizing same gender marriage will somehow redefine genders as identical, thus destroying the ability to recognize any legal distinction between male and female (and leading, apparently, to hordes of men applying to be servers at Hooters), because that argument is just stupid (with apologies to Dennis Prager, who I am probably woefully misrepresenting).
It can’t be the famous slippery-slope argument that allowing gay marriage means inevitably having to allow people to marry their house plants and the occasional Roomba robot vacuum cleaner. I suspect we’d all agree that the line can be drawn at marrying entities that legally qualify as human.
Thus, as far as I can tell, that only leaves the moral argument against gay marriage. And as much as that argument may represent an interesting and serious social debate, I just don’t see how that can legitimately form the basis for law.
Somebody, somewhere, thinks there should be laws about this.
There is one other argument against gay marriage, I suppose, and it is the argument that it is an attack on the institution of marriage itself. This one strikes me as a little silly. The institution of marriage has, as referenced above, been on a steady decline for decades, and it isn’t because a few gay people exchanged vows in a back garden in San Francisco.
Are you ready for this? It’s because heterosexuals themselves have such a casual, jaded view of marriage.
Ever since I was a kid, every marriage has had a slightly less than fifty-fifty chance of surviving. People seem to go into marriage the way they move into a new house: with great intentions of staying forever, but willing to move away if they get bored, or if they feel they can afford something better, or if there’s another, cuter house on the next block and they just can’t avoid the temptation of exploring that house’s basement (all right, some analogies work better than others).
“She’s got a porch that just won’t quit!”
In short, before any of us conservatives start carping about how gays are going to chip away at the institution of marriage, I would humbly (or not) suggest that we take a look at all the gaping holes we’ve bashed through it over the past decades with our cavalier attitude about divorce.
So, in short, maybe conservatism is wrong about this whole gay marriage thing. The arguments against it are, at their core, moral, not legal, and thus cannot qualify for legal consideration. Or am I mistaken? Has my opinion “evolved” to the extent that I am missing something? It’s possible. I am willing to consider it. You be willing to share your thoughts on the subject.
But just to be fair, this also means that there is no legal basis for outlawing unhealthy food, or smoking, or watching “American Idol”. They may be activities that are foolish and even personally unhealthy, but the objections to them are morality based, and morals simply cannot be enforced by law. In a free society, people must be free to conduct their lives in ways you do not approve of.
There. That last bit was a bone to my conservative friends. Still love me?
More to come.