"The individual is not accountable to society for his actions, insofar as these concern the interests of no person but himself." ~ John Stuart Mill
Right, Wrong and None of Your Damn Business
There is a current uproar out in California this month (I say out, due to the fact that I hail from the center of the universe, otherwise known as South Carolina), with people all in an uproar about this gay marriage ban that was apparently voted in by the people of the Imperial Province of . . . er . . . State of California . Here's the scoop according to Reuters. Long story made short: First the California Supreme Court extended equal rights to same-sex couples with regards to marriage, despite the fact that the state (believe it or not) has historically refused that right to same-sex couples. Now, thanks to a majority vote on November 8th, 2008 , 52% of the people who voted decided to revoke that right. Now the fight is all about the legality of that vote in the first place. The Argument
The argument of gay marriage is always a charged one, and almost nobody comes to the table without some large bias in one direction or another. Religion invariably plays a part in that bias, and with good reason. Religion, or lack thereof, more or less dictates a person's view of ethics and morals. Note that I did NOT say it dictates a person's ethics and morals, but on the contrary I said a person's view of ethics and morals. In other words, the source of one's beliefs will inevitably be the authority for what we know as right or wrong. If a person believes that the Bible is true, then that person generally will view his or her morals as being taken from the Bible (whether right or wrong). On the other hand, if a person denies that God exists and believes that all mankind is basically good and simply believes that moral behavior is best for the greater good of all, then that's where they lay the authority for their belief system. So one might say that any discussion such as gay marriage, or abortion, or any such discussion dealing with these sort of topics, is invariably going to invoke what is at the very core of each person. This results in the heavily charged atmosphere in which these discussions take place. Traditionally, for as long as can be found, the question of same-sex marriage has been discussed based on arguments of right or wrong. Is gay marriage morally right? Is it morally wrong? Those who say it is wrong want the government to enforce its "wrongness" with laws against it, and those who say there's nothing wrong with it or take a position of moral relativism (what's right and wrong for you, may not be what's right or wrong for me) want the government to recognize and protect the rights of same-sex couples. Here is my problem with all of this: Since when did the government become the deciding or ruling body in this country when it comes to morality? Let me explain my position here, with a series of "If, then" statements. If marriage in general, whether hetero- or homo-sexual, is a religious rite, then it should be the jurisdiction of the church. If marriage is a civic rite or "civil union" as they say now, then it should be the jurisdiction of the government. If it is decided that it is a religious rite rather than a civil one, then the government needs to stay the hell out of it, and give people the right to religious freedom that should be guaranteed them.
So what I'm saying here, is that it not really up for grabs as to whether gay marriage or homosexuality in general is right or wrong in these discussions, when the real discussion needs to be whether government or anybody else has the right to impose themselves in a decision of choice for morality. At this point, I need to say that I am not a proponent for gay marriage. That said, what I believe is right or wrong or even WHY I believe it does not amount to a hill of beans when it comes to what should be law or should not be law. The purpose of the law is not to enforce a particular set of morals or ethics. The purpose of the law is to protect people from being oppressed. Individuals decide what their morals are, not governments. What I believe to be right, that marriage is a union between a man and woman, does NOT come into play AT ALL when it comes to what is legal. The stark fact of the matter is that a good many people believe that it is morally fine to be joined with someone of the same sex. That is on THEIR shoulders to deal with the morality of it, not on me to decide for them, or on a court or congress to decide for them. Does it violate the rights of anyone else if my male neighbor married the guy that he works with? NO! You don't have the right to not be grossed out or be offended! You do not have the right to have everyone else in your line of sight following the same code of morals or ethics that you do! Friends with Benefits
The argument which is then presented is all wrapped up in benefits. What about the benefits that married couples get, just for being married? The happy church-going family in the neighborhood gets themselves all bent out of shape because now the gay couple gets the same tax breaks that they've enjoyed for years exclusively. Or now at work straight Bob now has to live with knowing that gay Joe gets the same benefits package for his partner that Bob gets for his wife. So really this argument is all about preferential treatment over someone we think is different from us--or worse, below us. We, as straight and upstanding family men and women, enjoyed the tax breaks, the benefits, and whatever else came our way as congratulatory perks for being just what "society" wanted us to be, and now that those perks are being threatened, well we just need to take a vote and see about not letting gay Joe have his way at all. That's not it at all, you say? That's not the reason people are all up in arms over two queers getting married? What reason then is left for sticking your nose in someone else's morality decisions? 'Because you see, it's just not right," isn't good enough. It just isn't your business to decide someone else's morality, and it sure as hell isn't the business of government.