Thursday, June 19, 2008

A Defining Issue

I wrote on June 1st and 8th about the recent decision of the California Supreme Court to strike down a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriages. I expressed my deep misgivings about this decision and suggested it would have far-reaching negative social implications (see I want to finish addressing this topic today by talking about what I see as root causes and related issues.

I see three primary causes of this escalation of pressure in Western democracies to redefine the institution of marriage. The first is the cultural battle, if you will, between those who would like society to reflect less of its Judeo-Christian heritage and those who would like it to reflect more. The former believe that religion is a corrosive and sometimes oppressive public influence and should be practiced as a private and personal lifestyle. The latter believe that religion is meant to be a public influence, even within a society committed to the separation of church and state, and that the premises upon which the constitution and the laws of society are constructed, especially those of the United States, draw heavily on its religious heritage. The former aspire to a more secular society, the latter to a more religious one.

The second primary cause is inextricably linked to the first, and it is the belief that gender differences are primarily socially constructed, are often harmful, and should be minimized. This viewpoint asserts that a child benefits as much from having two mothers or two fathers as he does from having a mother and a father, that there is little difference between the genders, that there is nothing especially significant about a mother’s presence or a father’s presence, and that they are not complementary. We see this battle being played out in the business world, the military, and throughout society.

The third primary cause is our confusion about compassion. We are becoming ever more hyper-sensitive about excluding anyone or hurting anyone’s feelings. Consider: a recent law proposed in Colorado opens all public accommodations, including restrooms, to anyone who wants to use them, male or female. The rationale is that transgendered people should be able to use the restroom they feel most comfortable using. Thus, a group of people comprising, let’s say, one half of one-percent of the population has its feelings protected despite the possible and obvious discomfort of much of the rest of the population! Consider: a Christian couple in Albuquerque who operate a photography studio politely declined, on religious grounds, to photograph a lesbian “commitment ceremony.” This is their first amendment right. They run a private business. There are other photography studios. But they were forced to appear before a New Mexico human rights commission and fined more than $6,600! The push for tolerance has become the push for acceptance has become the push for normalization.

Some protest, why single out gays and lesbians from getting married? But that’s the point; no one is being singled out! Refusing to redefine marriage simply declares that marriage will remain between one man and one woman. Many are excluded, including adult/minor couples, brother/sister couples, and polygamous unions. The same argument for allowing gay couples to marry can be used for any of these other arrangements. That’s why this is a defining issue.


Blogger Newspire said...

I see economic as another primary reason for this escalation. Our system of taxation in the U.S. shapes so many aspects of our behavior whether we know it or not. It shapes everything from the way we care for aging parents, to where we choose to live, to how much we give to charities.

Years ago the government decided to involve itself in marriage by rewarding married couples with tax breaks. Once there is a financial incentive to be "married" naturally anybody in a committed relationship would want to be included.

My cat and I are in a committed relationship. Why don't I get a tax break! Where does it end?

9:58 AM  

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