Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lunch Break Rage

I'm worried my work plans are going to be ruined today by my current bad mood. I was eating at a restaurant with CSPAN on their TVs, which I was initially relieved, since one other member of the chain usually leaves Faux News on. Of course, that relief was shortly canceled out: The topic was a repeal of a ban on same sex marriage. I don't talk about it nearly as much as I should, but I'm one of those people who sees attacks on same sex marriage as an attack on all marriage.

The part where I came in had one person defending same sex marriage, calmly but firmly listing all the benefits that are denied to same sex spouses because of such bans. I quietly stated my agreement with him. That bit of warm fuzzy didn't last, as another person favoring the Destruction of Marriage Act (DOMA) started his spiel. Some of his points in short:

1. Tradition: He listed all sorts of "support" in the form of what nations supported as marriage in the past, neglecting to mention that for just as long, people of those traditions treated marriage as a cynical financial or political transaction. Naturally, one of the common tropes that leaps to mind is that the same argument could be used to support bans on interracial marriages.

2. Appeal to Popularity: He referred to some polls I hadn't heard of (and can't look up without more information) where the poll subjects favored "a man and a woman" as the definition of marriage. Sorry, but minority rights trump majority rule. You can't deny someone a right just because he or she wants to exercise that right in an unpopular fashion. Of course, those who are quick with search tools can probably find polls that contradict the ones he cited.

3. The Baby Factory argument: The idea that marriage exists solely for biological reproduction is one that hits close to home. There's one married couple I know where one member had to have a life-saving operation that removed her reproductive abilities. This couple already had children, but imagine if the surgery happened before they had children: If you're going to use The Baby Factory argument, you have to enforce it equally. The Baby Factory argument would require that the government annul their marriage. Combine this with the mob rule argument above, and just try to imagine what it'd be like if people voted for those two to get a divorce, and had that decision enforced by the state. The Baby Factory argument is a rejection of individual autonomy and of the modern marriage based on people wanting to share their lives with someone.

4. "Sexism says so!": He described gender roles as 'non-fungible' to claim that a child absolutely requires one man and one woman to fill the role model slots. On one level, this is a form of the tradition argument, where culture has dictated gender roles. I'd consider it foolish to think that modern culture has found the absolute limits to what the different genders are capable of. Humans are versatile beings. Some women are very good at embodying "male" roles and some men are very good at representing "female" roles. I don't think it's the state's role to dictate who can or cannot fulfill that role. What's next? If I find a woman I love, could the state force me to attend more football games and monster truck rallies to prove my "manliness" is high enough to get married?

On another level, it seems to assume that the child will be sheltered by the parents from the outside world, never meeting other adults worthy of being role models. There are other family members, friends of the family, teachers, mentors and so on who could act as role models. It takes a village to raise a child. And what are they going to do with single parents? Force them to marry a state-sanctioned spouse against their will? Funny how these people who want to regulate marriage tend to pay lip service to "smaller government."

I don't think they buy that idea themselves. Even they must realize how ridiculous it would be to enforce those stereotypes. Scratch that, I'm underestimating the capacity for stupidity in humanity, again. All these excuses reek of an attempt to rationalize an irrational bigotry after they've committed themselves to the position.

Every excuse I've ever heard for banning same-sex marriage is like this: Make up marriage rules for one type of case, and then don't enforce those same rules to heterosexual marriages when they fall short of the so-called ideal. They also roundly reject love and the individual's self-determination as the basis of a marriage in favor of the shackles of sexist traditions, the dictates of a mob, the success of insectine reproductive strategy, or the insanity of ancient religions.

That is why an attack on same-sex marriage is an attack on all marriage.


Rhoadan said...

I'm going to add that AFAIC, the baby factory argument is a throwback to marriage as a cynical financial and political arrangement, since the point of such arrangements was to produce a suitable heir to a) inherit the finances in question and/or b) resolve the political situation.

Rhoadan said...

Well, okay, it was old age support arrangement too. In principle, that one shouldn't be as critical today and wouldn't be if this country would get its act together re: universal healthcare.

Smooth Jimmy Red said...

I find it interesting that many people argue against same sex marriage because they want to preserve the sanctity of mariage in a nation that is founded on the principle of separation of church and state. If marriage is sacred, then the government has no business sanctioning it. All government sanctioned marriages should be immediately annulled and automatically converted to cilvil unions. Same sex civil unions should be allowed, with the same rights and privileges as opposite sex civil unions. Marriages would still be performed through churches, but would only be recognized by the church. Churches could set whatever rules they like as far as who they will allow to marry whom.

Ryan W. said...

The most insane argument I heard was that allowing equal marriage rights is a Communist threat.

So to restrict government control over marriage, needs strict conrols over marriage.

Xians make my brain hurt.

Jimmy Blue said...

I've been toying with writing a post about the ban on gay marriage but having just moved house haven't had time yet. What it comes down to, as far as I can figure it, is that the people in favour of a ban on gay marriage are either advocating breaking anti discrimination laws, violating the constitution or are just plain old stupid and hypocritical.

What kills me the most is that these people who say it is up to the government to decide who can marry who are also people in favour of small government. Moron doesn't seem to do them justice.