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Friday, December 09, 2005

Debunking Arguments for the Hate Amendment, Part One

I'm calling it part one, since I figure the pro-hate side will keep trying to offer up arguments. Today's contestant is Wisconsin blogger Lucas of Wild Wisconsin, in a post from Monday. He posits four arguments:
  1. God said that homosexuality is wrong.
  2. Homosexual marriage will destroy traditional marriage.
  3. It's all about the Children.
  4. It reduces marriage to attraction.
Now, there's lots of good discussion in the comments to Lucas's post, some of which I might poach here or not, I haven't decided yet. But Lucas's arguments don't hold water. For example, number one: God also said we should honor our fathers and mothers; if we made this state law, every teenager in the state would be in prison. And there is no drive to ban any other sin--fornication, adultery, covetousness, lying--in the Wisconsin state constitution. We won't even get into all the pastors currently performing religious committment cermonies right now.

As for the kids, Lucas writes,
Children deserve a stable family. They don't always get one, but they still deserve it. Today we recognize that many children live in broken families that only have one parent, or many other arrangements that are less than ideal. That doesn't mean the state, the society, should work to endorse and encourage more of this type of situation. It should be apparent by the inability of procreation in a homosexual marriage that it does not raise kids well. To think that a child will not have a mom or dad if homosexual marriage is allowed should confirm our rejection.
Ah, the old "gays can't have kids so they can't get married" canard. This past spring, my widower grandfather married a nice widow from church. They will not have kids, but no one stopped the wedding. My wife and I have no kids, and no one seems to care except my mother, but even she is coming around. This argument is further insulting to anyone facing infertility problems; Lucas is suggesting that their "inability to procreate" would mean that, after tens of thousands of dollars and years of pain and struggle, they would "not raise kids well" if they were finally blessed with them. Perhaps Lucas also needs to learn how to Google, instead of relying on his bias, so he could learn some facts about children of gay and lesbian parents.

And Lucas's number four is just silly: Marriage--whether for gay or straight couples--happens for dozens of reasons, from love to lust to economics to children to trying to get a green card. Not every marriage happens for all of those reasons. But Lucas goes further, using this as his entré into the unwarranted extrapolation bit: "If I'm attracted to my cousin can I marry her?" he asks. "My sister? My mother? My dog? Two wives?" I won't go into it here, but, please. Where's the evidence from Scandanavia, Canada, Spain, or even Massachusetts that boys are lining up with their mothers or Fido for a marriage license?

But it's Lucas's number two--that "traditional" marriage needs protecting--that is the argument I have the hardest time believing, mostly because I have never seen any clear explanation of what would happen to marriage that would require protection. Here's Lucas's attempt:
If everyone could have the benefits of marriage there would be no benefit at all. By changing that meaning of marriage to include homosexuals, we take away from the meaning of traditional marriage and endanger its very existence. [. . .] If I could say "I'm married" in Texas (and in Wisconsin so long as no judges come along to make things up) everyone knows that means I've got one wife with whom I've made a special commitment be joined together 'till death do us part. Now if I said "I'm married" in Massachusetts people would only know that I love some other person whether it be man or women. Hence by allowing other relationships to be included under the relationship of man and wife we have struck a fatal blow at the original relationship between man and wife.
I see two things going on here. One, Lucas seems to want to protect a definition, which is something more suited to the Académie française than to the Wisconsin state legislature.

Second, he wants special rights for heterosexuals. Now, I know that sounds crazy, since for decades we've been told that there is this "homosexual agenda" that was out to earn "special rights" for the gays. Lucas is turning the issue upside-down by demanding special rights for himself, not gays. I suppose that being in the majority, we whites straights can keep the black man down the privileges and rights of marriage to ourselves. In addition, it seems a might bit self-centered to demand that marriage be only what we say it is, when over time and across cultures (even in these United States) marriage means many different things. Part of what constitutions in this counrty are meant to do is protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority; it is the gist of the fourteenth amendment--everyone, regardless of who they are, deserves equal protection and equal treatment. I will never understand the desire of some (borne out of insecurity, perhaps? fear?) to wall off access to basic rights to the minority.

Yet and still, Lucas does not address the fundamental question of what damage might be done to his marriage or mine by allowing gay marriage, besides any perceived damage to the definition. Lucas also doesn't explain why writing this into the constitution is necessary or desirable. Perhaps later he will get to it, or someone else will, and we'll see part two of this seiries of mine.

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