At the risk of starting a flame war on JD's blog, I wanted to post something about the gay marriage issues that have been cropping up. Sometimes family and friends ask for my opinion on some of the legal issues surrounding this hot button topic. The recent California Supreme Court opinion was one of those times.
Although I didn't read the entire opinion (being 100+ pages long), I did read the gist of the opinion, and here's my summary: The major of San Francisco looked at the law of the State of California, decided he was a judge and that in his opinion the law was unconstitutional and therefore he didn't have to follow it. Ergo, he started having his city issue same sex marriage licenses. Unfortunately for him, the major of San Francisco is not a judge, does not have the power to declare things unconstitutional, and does not have the luxury of simply disregarding the law of the land. We therefore overturn his inappropriate actions and invite someone to sue the State of California to determine whether it is in fact a violation of the equal protection clause to issue marriage licenses only to heterosexual couples.
Oregon is about to consider this issue on the November ballot. As a personal matter, I frankly don't care if gay couples want to get married. I'm reasonably sure that none of them are marrying me, so have at it. Assuming that they're 10% of the population and that they're like everyone else, they'll get divorced at a 50% rate, which means more business for the domestic relations practice in the firm. Since gay couples traditionally have more assets than heterosexual couples, they'll have more to fight over. If they have kids, both are probably going to want custody. I smell big lawyer dollars on the horizon. On the other hand, if the people of the State of Oregon say that they only want heteros to get married, then so be it. The people of a state ought to be able to decide to whom marriage licenses should issue. That said, I don't particularly want the issue decided in our Constitution, however. It should be a statutory thing, not a constitutional thing. Marriage didn't start out in the Constitution and I don't see why it should go there now.
One thing, however, that has puzzled me about this debate is the position of the various Christian churches. Although I could charitably be described as non-religious, I consider myself fairly well versed in the scriptures. My reading of the Bible says that there's a pretty good case to be made that God doesn't cotton well to homosexuality. As such, the moral high ground is held by the conservatives. Nonetheless, there are very religious Christians who believe that gay marriage, and presumably homosexual acts, should be acceptable and even condoned by the state.
But if the Bible says homosexuality is a sinful act, why then do some Christians support it?
I understand that many of these references are Old Testament references and the argument about Christ coming to fulfill the law, not destroy it, etc. If, however, this was taken as a carte blanch waiver of the Old Testament and it's teachings, what prevents me from coveting my neighbor's wife (or, at the risk of being crass, his ass)? If the only commandment remaining is to love thy neighbor as thyself, should I lovingly practice euthanasia on my neighbor if he asks me to?
The problem, of course, is that the conservative Christians tend to cherry pick their arguments. When is the last time we heard a conservative Southern Baptist preaching that we should forgo pork? Or lobster? Or banish menstruating women because they're "unclean" and forbid them access to the church? Answer: we haven't. Some have simply latched onto this particular sin and decided that it's worth pursuing because it offends their concept of what's right in the world. (If pressed here, I'd have to admit that simply because I haven't heard anyone complaining about Christians eating pork doesn't mean that perhaps the Southern Florida Synod of the Methodist Presbyterian Lutheran Congress or some such isn't pushing this as an active issue. I just haven't heard it on the national news lately.)
The other side of the coin is problematic, too. If you profess that the moral fabric of your life is based upon a text, i.e. the Bible, are you free to disregard portions of that text? Do some textual references carry more weight than others? Can we say, "Yes" to gay marriage, but "No" to assisted suicide and still be within the text? If the Bible weren't the word of God, then the answer is "yes, some parts may be more valid, more weighty, and therefore more deserving of our attention than others." However, as many are fond of pointing out, the Bible is the divinely inspired work of God. All of it's parts must therefore be equally valid or else some parts of what God says are worth less than other parts.
So what I'm left with in this debate then, is that both sides, the religious conservatives and liberals, have cherry picked their issues. Each elect to overlook certain issues in the founding text because those ideas don't meet their own idea of what their religion should look like. If that is the case, then it's really hard for anyone to claim any type of moral superiority in the discussion, isn't it?
On this day at foldedspace.org
2005 — Hot Water When we bought our first house, we had problems with the water heater almost immediately. It was small, and it was pathologically incapable of producing truly hot water. [Audio version available.]
2003 — Kickoff! In which I am excited about the start of the English football season, though disappointed by Everton's loss to Arsenal.