The sensationalism surrounding this ever growing debate merits a quick look, and setting it in perspective. The media is determined to make this an ever growing issue, and it has become “hip”, Hollywood’s pets project and that of all those who wish to imitate the spoiled and bored crowd.
Instead of the rain-forest, hunger in Africa, the O-zone layer, or even the more recent climate change (which used to be global warming and global cooling before that), it seems that for the past year or two, the fad is to fight for “equal rights”; code for supporting government sanctioned gay marriage.
Though it is not a fascinating topic nor probably important relative to many other issues of the day, more so than in other issues, the debate is highly misinformed, illogical and completely mis-guided. The endless headlines, and opinions on both sides of the issue that continuously miss the point have prodded the Lighthouse to action on this issue. There are a few key misunderstandings and lies common to this debate which we will address.
“Equal Rights” Fallacy
The debate has been basically turned on its head (to the benefit of the left) to “Should it be illegal to be gay?”
Firstly, the below the belt blow of appealing to “equal rights” has to be stopped, it is firing on automatic in every article and headlines ones sees. Even people who are somehow intuitively against supporting the gay marriage legislation have to meekly begin by “I support equal rights… but”. But what?! Hold on here. In most of the Western world, there has been equal rights for all segments of the population for so long that people have forgotten what it actually means!
Weather these new sets of laws pass or not, everyone in the US has equal rights (at least pertaining to this issue). Every adult has the right to legally marry an adult of the opposite sex! These are not laws specific to sexual orientation, race, creed or ethnicity. A gay man can marry a woman just as easily as a straight man, and neither can get a marriage certificate by marrying another man. There is total equality under the law.
People have forgotten that the absence of equality under the law is that laws apply differently to different groups of people such as races or ethnicities Even if we over-simplify for a second, and pretend that currently in most US states gays cannot get married to each other (which is not true) there is still completely equal rights. There is no specific law applying to homosexuals regarding marriage and no specific law regarding heterosexuals. The laws are universal, and applied equally. So let us begin by calling things what they are. If you want to legalize or criminalize something new, say so, but do not hide under “equal rights” pretenses.
So the idea that homosexuals walk around oppressed by a different set of laws is simply untrue. In the US, they have every freedom and right afforded every other citizen, including voting and being President of the Unites States. There is no right that one can take away from another citizen by claiming in court that he is a homosexual and therefore not eligible for this right. The right to have most State governments give a man a diploma with the State Seal recognizing his marriage to another man? No citizen has that right… equally.
One cannot likewise get a State certificate of marriage between first cousins in about half the states (and in some states it is actually a criminal offence, not just the absence of a state marriage certificate), cannot get a marriage certificate between an adult and and a child (also in many cases is criminal), and cannot get a marriage certificate between a person and a dog. There are in fact, a lot of restrictions of who can get a state marriage certificate. Equal rights?
So Legally, What are we Really Talking About?
After stepping aside from the hysteria of the “equal rights” struggle, let us take a closer look at what the issue really is legally. If no laws are actually targeting any group of people, straight or gay, then we must be talking about universally acceptable or unacceptable activity. You might be tempted to say:
Sure, fair enough all people have the same rights, BUT gays who want to marry people of their own gender cannot do so (just like everyone else cannot do so) while straight people don’t have the desire to do so and so are unaffected
And so one might think the issue is about legalizing a certain activity which society has traditionally held to be at least inappropriate if not immoral. Well that would be reasonable enough, but it is still NOT the issue at hand!
Gays, in every state of the Union, can marry whomever they want of either gender all day long!
Despite what the media uproar would have you believe:
- It is not illegal for gays to marry each other in any State.
- It is not illegal to BE gay in any State (though many states do have somewhat archaic and unenforced statutes about sodomy; again theoretically illegal to commit by ALL, not gays specifically).
Any gay man in any state in the Union, is free to marry another man, have another two as “mistresses” and cheat on all of them with another 50. And still, he would break no law. Hard to believe isn’t it?
For most people in the United States, marriage remains a primarily religious and traditional event. It is also extremely personal and the government stays (as it should) far away from it. Of course, your traditional Catholic Priest or Orthodox Rabbi will not marry a homosexual couple. This is not due to any law, but by his own ethical standards and the religious convictions of the community he represents. If you find your “modern” or “reform” priests, rabbis and other clergymen who are willing to officiate in such a ceremony, not only can you marry someone of the same gender, you can marry anything you and them agree to including your pet rock. This has been happening for a long time and is well known to most Americans; there is the weddings officiated by the friend, by the relative, by the New Age spiritual guru, by the Yoga instructor, and of course by clergyman of non traditional churches and temples who gladly officiate all manners of ceremonies.
Marriage is foremost a religious (for those who are religious) concept and secondly a private matter between the two parties. The government of a free country has very little place here. So for those who are religious, following their religious rites and ceremonies under the auspices of the church and clergy they believe in should be more than enough to consecrate what they believe is a marriage. Beyond that, and especially for the many who are not religious, then ultimately the marriage should be a meaningful commitment of some sort by both parties to each other; the ceremony simply symbolizes and celebrates this fact. Where is there government in any of this?
The State will not officiate your wedding, the state will not sanction your wedding, will not pay for it, will not celebrate it nor send you off on your honeymoon. All of these are all private matters. What will the State do then? Well, typically AFTER your wedding, a husband and wife can go to the County office and obtain a Marriage Certificate. This is simply a formal State recognition of the fact you HAVE married, and it automatically puts the couple (whether they like it or not) under the State matrimony laws which chiefly regard child custody and division of assets during divorce. A man and a woman can enter into a different sort of agreement if they wish to do so and spell it out previously (like the well known prenuptial agreement). Otherwise, if they did not specify otherwise, they are under the universal set of State laws regarding divorce. If the couple does not divorce, these laws are unlikely to ever come up and are of no consequence.
So a homosexual couple CAN legally be a homosexual couple, and CAN legally marry if they wish. So now one is tempted to say “That’s it, the inequality lies in that they are not placed under State matrimony laws, and are not automatically eligible for inheritance etc”.
Well, Exactly… They do not AUTOMATICALLY become eligible for these rights and responsibilities. They have to actually willingly agree to enter into such a contract. To be frank, speaking strictly legally this is a huge benefit. A man and a woman who are married cannot help but be UNDER state laws of matrimony whether they agree with them or not. It is a burden on them to spell out complex contracts if they wish to make an agreement different from the standard, and in many cases they will not be able to differ from the statues even if they both agree to it. A gay couple has the luxury of remaining completely independent under the law while still being in a relationship they define as marriage or anything else they wish. Should they not wish to remain legally and financially independent, but rather enter into a binding contract the same as marriage (or different in detail if they wish), they are free to do so. They can form “civil unions” by contract without any restriction. This can involve money, assets, inheritance, visitation rights, etc etc.
Homosexuality is Not a Race
We have seen and dealt with the two first giant misconceptions in this gay marriage debate. First, that somehow gay citizens do not have equal rights as straight citizens do, and secondly, that gays are not currently allowed to marry.
However, in order to even address those two first fallacies, I had to pretend to believe in the third. Otherwise, it is too absurd to even try to address the issue. In order for any discussion of “equal rights” to have any sense at all, we must be discussing groups of people that inherently are different (usually by birth) and that the law (today most would agree unjustly) treats differently. By the very definition of this concept, these differences must not be morally questionable and usually not adopted by choice for the claimant of equal rights to have any standing. Let us clarify.
To start at the end, it is namely the intuitive understanding that blacks and whites should have equal rights, that rich and poor should have equal rights under the law, or that a Nobility should not be treated differently by the law then the lower class. These differences are made largely by birth (with the exception to an extent of wealth) and have no moral ambiguity. It is not immoral to be white or black (unless one listens to your average College Professor!), nor rich or poor. One certainly had no say in whether he was born an aristocrat or a plebeian.
But our sense of the types of groups that should have equal rights is rather narrow as it should be. Believe it or not, women and men do not have identical rights under the law, and not in the way one may think but rather the opposite. While the legal privileges afforded to men are long gone, the ones afforded to women have tended to remain (partly because it is much less popular for men to strive to be like women or have their rights than it is vice versa). A woman has a big advantage in family law in most states, regarding both finances (it is rare for a woman to pay alimony to a man) and in custody rights. Unless there is good reason, courts will tend to keep children with their mothers. There is many subtler differences, some written and some simply understood; like the fact that criminal punishments will tend to be much more lenient for women than to men.
Children, through no fault of their own, are radically stripped of rights until they are 18 or 21. They cannot vote, enter into legally binding agreements or pretty much do anything without consent of their parents much like slaves.
This is despite the fact that being a woman, man or child is not an activity but really a state of being. Once you get to activities, the law looks upon individuals very differently as it very well should. A landlord and a tenant do not have the same rights nor obligations, and of course neither does an innocent man and one who commits a crime.
Having explained this background, and realizing that the law can actually be very particular, it is shocking to hear time after time chants of oppression, racism, sexism and who knows what other ism from the gay community. Being gay is not a race, nor is it a gender. Without entering into the discussion of the cause of homosexuality (the debate of genetics vs environment and choice which we can save for another time when I am really bored), a gay man in any legal sense is not simply magically, mystically and inherently gay. He is just a man, until he has sexual relations with another man. So for example, if society wanted to ban homosexuality, which it has every right to do as it bans thousands upon thousands of activities it deems wrong, unhealthy, unsafe, immoral, or unappealing (like smoking or a purple roof in a neighborhood with green roofs), it would be banning an activity. The law would apply to all equally, and it would be illegal for a man, whatever he calls himself to have sex with another man. No one would be guilty of anything until they do so regardless of what they would LIKE to do.
To use an extreme to illustrate the point, murder is illegal but no one is charged for wanting to murder people, but only for doing (or attempting) so. The fact that there are no doubt genetic and environmental causes that pushed a thief to steal, a rapist to rape, or a killer to kill are not very relevant. Nothing happens without a reason, otherwise it would not happen, but this has little legal relevance. Any activity can be banned, and those who partake in it would have an absurd argument if they claimed they were not being given “equal rights”.
There is no need for a mass of emails outraged at my “comparing” murder, rape, stealing and being gay. I did not compare them in any way but logically as being activities as opposed to races in order to illustrate the point. The left constantly portrays the gay community as an ethnicity or race, where they are in fact people who engage in a certain type of lifestyle. The reason for this is political, it is easy enough to be against certain activities, but not politically correct to be against certain “people” ie ethnicity or races. This is a cheap political trick. Gays are no more a race than electricians are (except the latter need a state licence to even be allowed to practice!). And to enter into arguments of “one has no choice, you are born that way” are irrelevant. It is outside the scope of this article to enter into that academic debate, but it is sufficed to say, that one has as much or as little choice as in anything else, from being an electrician to being a murderer. The law cannot be concerned with such philosophical absurdities.
Victim-less Crimes / Personal lifestyles should not be Criminalized?
No need to enter into much detail here. Anyone who reads my posts knows how many millions of laws there are in the world and how almost everything is criminalized. In Israel, it is illegal to enter into a 1 year contract with your Internet or phone provider. Across the US, it is illegal to drink a beer on a hot summer day in public, often even in your own front porch. Soda is being banned from restaurants, are as “happy meals”. It is illegal for Girl Scouts to sell lemonade, and in fact virtually everything one can imagine except expressing an opinion is illegal now days.
To make a direct comparison and illustrate the hypocrisy of the left, let me remind the reader of a situation when the Hollywood mob, the media, the social progressives, freedom protesters, hippies and friends do not wish to give “equal rights”, do not wish to lift oppression, and do not wish to give freedom of religion and lifestyle choice.
Many Mormons in Utah and elsewhere still believe in the concept of polygyny, where a man takes more than one wife. The mainstream Mormon Church (Latter Day Saints) had to ban the practice as a condition for Utah to be allowed to enter the Union as a State, but many Mormons still believe in it and practice it. These are deeply held religious beliefs in which men and women willingly enter into a committed and deeply religious relationship. It also can be argued that it happens to be quite natural as it is the way most of the world functioned until Christianity changed that. Unlike homosexuality however, it IS illegal in the entire USA. The left is outraged at this practice and not only does it not condone legalizing it in the name of equal rights and freedom of religion, but rather it does everything it can to actually prosecute it and end it by force. Polygamist towns and compounds are often raided by federal agents, and the left keeps constant pressure on State agencies to take away the families’ children and prosecute the parents. They dislike it because it is not new, secular and against long standing traditions but actually quite old, religious and traditional.
Most ironically is the level at which prosecution is taking place in recent years when it never did before. The reason being that if polygamy is illegal, normally one can accept only to be able to prosecute those that officially have more than one state marriage certificate with more than one woman at a time. Isn’t that what the gay community is fighting for so fiercely? Well obviously this is not the case, the polygamist Mormons are happy to be married under their own ceremonies and beliefs. They are not married to more than one woman legally at a time. In the past, this has been enough to avoid prosecution as long as all parties are consenting adults. After all, it is a free country, and it is not illegal to have girlfriends or affairs (much like the gay man who had 50 of them in the beginning of the paper). If adultery was to be criminalized, then a whole lot of people need to be arrested. Despite all of this, Mormons are regularly and increasingly are ending up in jail by living according to their old religious beliefs in their own communities. Their “alternative lifestyle” choice apparently is too religious (ie conservative) and not alternative enough for the hippies.
In any event, this is just one of many examples of society banning lifestyles, victim-less crimes and activities it does not like without the protest of pretty much anyone. Again, the leftist arguments about gays falls flat.
Any reader of my blogs will know that often they have a libertarian streak. Most libertarians however, find themselves on the wrong side of this issue; this is because they bought some of the wrong premises the left is selling. Even though they might not like gay marriage, they believe in freedom firstly. It is a good point as libertarians will say, that government has no place in marriage, it is a private matter and must remain free. However if one believes that, then the answer is that there should be NO State issued certificate of marriage, not that men marrying men should ALSO get one. Where would one draw the line? I would be much more likely to condone the complete abolition of State marriage Certificates (as it is no place of government) than the ADDITION of another one… any libertarian who views the issue from this perspective will likely agree.
So what do they really want?
So in conclusion, even if we pretended that homosexuality was a race that should not be discriminated against instead of a lifestyle choice (which can be good or bad, moral or immoral), it is clear enough that the law does not in any Western state discriminate against it. Gays are free to be gay, to marry and even to parade quite gay-like in all major cities in “pride” parades as we have become accustomed to seeing. They are also free to enter into any contractual partnership they wish to, whether the state has defined domestic partnerships and civil unions or not. In fact, they have more freedom of choice in their agreements than a regular heterosexual couple do who common law can regard as husband and wife even if they do not wish to be so.
So what is the left seeking here? If it’s not the freedom to actually BE gay and have gay relationships, and it is not the freedom to be married under any community and clergy who will agree to officiate so, and if it is not the freedom to share property and enter into a legal partnership… then dressed up under all the screams of “equal rights” what is that they are seeking?
Good question, and easy enough to answer for the Lighthouse Keeper. Basically we have seen that gays have absolutely no inconvenience legally in being as gay as they wish with whomever they wish. They do however often run into the fact that large parts of society do not accept their lifestyle as ideal, appropriate or even moral. It is hard to escape that our Bible prohibits male homosexuality and the Judeo-Christian tradition has banned it for millenia. Given this fact, one could assume that gays would be happy to be freely allowed to do as they wish in their own bedrooms despite the fact that they are a very small minority of the population and a large majority disproves of their lifestyle in one level or another. For a long time, this in fact was quite enough. Society was able to give individuals freedom in their bedroom (unless you are a Mormon I guess), but not have to formally accept all lifestyles are ideal. But as with all such movements, no equality is ever equal enough, and so we always end up going too far. The freedoms gays enjoy by now is second nature to them and taken for granted. Now, for many in the political left, it is an opportunity for a political agenda.
Their movement has little to do with allowing gays and lesbians to live their prefered lifestyles which they already do. It is now a quest to obtain something much greater… It is not simply enough for society to allow them their private freedom, we must say it is “OK”. This is why the State sponsored marriage certificate is such an important symbol for them. If the State itself, along with its great Seal recognizes them in holy matrimony, then who can say otherwise? The legal repercussions are many…
Remember the traditional Orthodox Rabbi and Christian clergyman who does not believe in or officiate Gay Weddings? Well, after their legislation passes, they would be in dire trouble. They could be forced to marry gay couples or face lawsuits and criminal charges due to “discrimination”. What happened to freedom of religion? State and private adoption agencies would face the same wrath if they even hinted at Preferring straight couples over gay couples for adopting children. As is often portrayed in movies, State officers inspecting a home for adoption could inspect your life up and down, and take away “points” because your house is too messy, because you are not rich, because there is a bottle of wine in your dining table, but must completely ignore that the competing couple is made up of two men.
The left and the political gay and lesbian community are not after freedom, which they fully enjoy, they are after legislative changes that will deeply alter the way society and nations live and function. The equality they seek is not one of law, but one of social moral norms. They wish to Take Away the right of society to hold the age old marriage between a man and a woman to be morally ideal, they wish to strike the final legal blow to the traditional nuclear family. They are looking for the great seal of approval, Government proof that no lifestyle is superior to any other, that no moral value regardless of how deeply it is ingrained into our history, values and religion is superior to any other regardless of how new, weird and unnatural it might be. Make no mistake about it, it is a precedent that does not end there…
If the “equal rights” arguments works there, in order to get State sanctioned approval for unusual and unconventional activities, it will work elsewhere. The very next step is that people will wish to marry their dogs, and their cats, and their toilets to boot. Mind you that they can already do that in the private sense, but they will want a State certificate recognizing it.
It is very hip to be new age, and to believe in nothing except a twisted and incorrect version of “freedom” but to those who know history, it is not new nor hip (nothing is new under the sun, it’s all been tried before) nor in fact any version of freedom. The family is the cornerstone of any nation who wishes to endure…. even so it is most difficult to endure. A nation that forsakes its family for political correctness will find it will not last a flicker of historical time nor does it deserve to. It is difficult for me to imagine why homosexuals themselves, free to engage in their private lifestyles now feel the need to repudiate what is probably the longest held cultural standard we have and the bedrock of society, marriage between a man and a woman. I do not condone nor do we have laws against gays, and that amount of freedom is more than they ever held in the western world, but to rather condone a State seal of Approval, to deny a large part of society the right to make moral judgments based on the ancient values which have allowed it to exist today is a far greater sin, and a recipe for disaster.