Many people who oppose gay marriage do so based on something they’ve read. Mostly the bible. Sometimes the dictionary. Despite the many versions of the Holy Bible, and the mutability of the English language, nothing much has changed. The bible is the bible; and the majority of English words still mean what they meant hundreds of years ago. Yet, some people allow their interpretations of doctrine to grow, and their use of the lexicon to evolve along with the poetry and slang of the times to account for the development of thought and understanding of the Human Condition.
Other people take both the bible and dictionary as unchangeable canon. The people of this group are most often born into a way of thinking, and whether it is five years, or one hundred years later, these people will die with the same wisdom they first learned, without ever having questioned or challenged the moral and social implications of the things they were taught.
The Religious Side
While the practice of faith (and hate) is Constitutionally upheld, allowing this model of thought to impede the happiness of other Americans is not. In short: while it is your right to picket and protest gay marriage to make your voice known, it is not your right to withhold liberties from others. It can be argued by those that oppose same-sex marriage that their beliefs are encroached upon, and therefore no longer protected by the Constitution, when states allow same-sex marriage. However, this is wrong not only for moral reasons, but logical ones.
Religion is an individual liberty. The right to practice Catholicism, Christianity, or any religion, has nothing to do with how any American outside that individual lives their life, nor does it have anything do with what rights those other Americans are granted by the Constitution. It is underhanded and morally reprehensible to wrap bigotry up in the armor of religion when making an argument, yet that is the nature of the religious side of the debate.
Another argument stems from the dictionary – a book far less known for widespread panic and harm than the bible, but which nevertheless seems to carry a lot of weight in the gay marriage argument. The argument is that gay marriage goes against the traditional definition of “marriage.” Because of this, some people believe gay marriage should be banned. In other words: liberties should be taken away from Americans because some people are offended by two men, or two women, making love. Note: people who picket gay marriage go against my definition of “rationality,” but I am not going to say they can’t do it, because it would be taking away their right to Free Speech.
And that’s the point. Convenient reasoning cannot be allowed to act as a fulcrum for erasing liberty.
A Vote Against Thought
A vote against gay marriage is a regressive vote. It says that we are obligated to be more sensitive to the feelings of the religious right, bigots, and people unable to evolve in thought, than we are to two people who want to get married. It validates using the dictionary and religious doctrine in defense of bigotry, and in doing so locks us into the same model of thought used by those who preach the alienation and intolerance of gay Americans.
What follows are some of my thoughts on today's Supreme Court hearing...
Today, on behalf petitioners, Charles J. Cooper, the lawyer defending California’s ban on same-sex marriage, addressed the Supreme Court. Here is a segment of that transcript via NPR:
JUSTICE KAGAN: Mr. Cooper, could I just understand your argument. In reading the briefs, it seems as though your principal argument is that same-sex and opposite — opposite-sex couples are not similarly situated because opposite-sex couples can procreate, same-sex couples cannot, and the State's principal interest in marriage is in regulating procreation. Is that basically correct?
MR. COOPER: I — Your Honor, that's the essential thrust of our — our position, yes.
JUSTICE KAGAN: Is — is there — so you have sort of a reason for not including same-sex couples. Is there any reason that you have for excluding them? In other words, you're saying, well, if we allow same-sex couples to marry, it doesn't serve the State's interest. But do you go further and say that it harms any State interest?
Cooper responded that “…it is reasonable to be very concerned that redefining marriage as a genderless institution could well lead to harms to that institution and to the interests that society has always used that institution to address.”
The transcript continues:
JUSTICE KAGAN: Well, suppose a State said, Mr. Cooper, suppose a State said that, because we think that the focus of marriage really should be on procreation, we are not going to give marriage licenses anymore to any couple where both people are over the age of 55. Would that be constitutional?
MR. COOPER: No, Your Honor, it would not be constitutional.
JUSTICE KAGAN: Because that's the same State interest, I would think, you know. If you are over the age of 55, you don't help us serve the Government's interest in regulating procreation through marriage. So why is that different?
MR. COOPER: Your Honor, even with respect to couples over the age of 55, it is very rare that both couples — both parties to the couple are infertile, and the traditional -¬
JUSTICE KAGAN: No, really, because if the couple — I can just assure you, if both the woman and the man are over the age of 55, there are not a lot of children coming out of that marriage.
For most of the transcript it seems that Cooper is doing more harm than good for his clients. He is consistently made to answer questions that contradict prior statements. However, Theodore Olsen, who represents the respondents in the defense against the ban on same-sex marriage caught equal fire from the justices. This led media outlets to say the Supreme Court seemed to lean in no specific direction on the subject.
But, I disagree. Needling both sides and poking holes in the arguments of the petitioners is the role of the justices that make up the Supreme Court. This allows them to find new arguments and angles with which to base a decision as the case progresses. Their purpose in doing so is to juxtapose the matter at hand against the Constitution and to determine if current practices (at least in this case) go against the law of our land. It is a long process, and one that leaves a wake of legalese and what at first appears to be procedural minutia. Though not without flaws, the magnitude of any decision made by the Supreme Court requires such scrutiny in order to maintain rational perspective and thought.
Read the entire transcript here.