Friday evening as we were in the car, a news report came over the radio about the Supreme Court Decision overruling state laws that prevent gay marriage. My fourteen year old son said to me that he couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. Well I said, lots of people think it's wrong for many reasons, be it philosophy, tradition, religion or whatever. He just shook his head and we let it go at that.
The truth is, I never had too much interest in the issue. Not that I ever had a problem with gay people getting married, I just felt that with so many opposed to it, a compromise could be forged allowing gay unions where couples could be afforded the same legal rights as married couples, yet it wouldn't be called, well, marriage. President Obama proposed such a deal when he first ran for the office but later admitted it was just a way of sidestepping the issue in order to gain some votes.
Another argument against the issue that caught my interest went this way: if the idea of marriage as it has been defined for millennia, that is to say the union between a woman and a man, could be re-defined to be a union between a man and a man or a woman and a woman, where would that precedent take us. In other words, what would stop the courts from re-defining marriage further, say a union between three or more people? The possibilities are endless.
OK maybe that's not a really compelling argument, but as a born contrarian who questions everything, especially people who support concepts based upon ideology rather than critical thought, I could use it in my devil's advocate bag of tricks.
That lame argument is certainly better than the religious arguments against homosexuality. First of all, not everyone subscribes to the same religion if any religion at all, so how can we, in this pluralistic society of ours, impose the tenets of one faith over another? Beyond that, the obsession with homosexuality and gay marriage among the religious is grossly overblown. While it's certainly true that homosexuality is mentioned in both the New and the Old Testaments, (sorry I can't speak with authority of the sacred texts of other religions), the mentions in the Judeo/Christian sacred texts are few and far between. The bottom line is that homosexuality is simply one of many activities frowned upon in the bible which have become commonplace and condoned by society as a whole in our day, even by the religious.
I can come up with dozens of convoluted reasons to object to gay marriage, but few logical ones. Perhaps the best comeback I've ever heard directed at the anti gay marriage crowd came from an unexpected source, the former mayor of Chicago, Richard M. Daley. Responding to the idea that gay marriage undermines the institution of marriage, the former Mayor Daley in typical matter-of-fact language once said: "Gay marriage does not undermine marriage, divorce undermines marriage."
Thinking about it this weekend, heterosexual couples get married for the wrong reasons all the time. Perhaps they were pressured by their families because of social status or the accidental conception of a child. Not to say that those unions necessarily end up badly, or that ones begun for all the right reasons end up happily ever after, but by comparison, gay couples don't enter the institution of marriage under those pressures, more often than not they get married because they love each other and want to share each others lives. What could possibly be more in tune with the true spirit of the institution than that?
As far as raising children, I don't necessarily believe that being raised by a gay couple is the ideal situation for a child however, how many children are raised in un-loving, dysfunctional "traditional" families? Simply put, there is no such thing as the ideal situation in which to raise a child,
After my son's "what's the big deal" remark, the commentator on a radio station not known for its progressive attitudes, began to address the Supreme Court's decision. He prefaced his words by addressing the history of the 20th Century, pointing out that it was the deadliest century of human history, yet in its closing decades, great strides were made in the direction of peace and the recognition of the dignity of all human beings. Sadly he added, in subsequent years, we have seen a resurgence of violence and hatred in the name of patriotism, racial intolerance and religion. The radio commentator using simple logic and passion stated that in his opinion, the Supreme Court's ruling was a victory of inclusion over exclusion, of love over hate.
Guess what? He's right. It could not have been put simpler or more eloquently.
I may not have taken the opportunity to superimpose the rainbow flag over my Facebook profile picture, re-post a simplistic mime, or change my status to comment on the ruling, that's just not my style.
But I am indeed very happy just the same.
Scenes from Saturday's March for Science
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