Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Gay marriage and dire predictions

Barack Obama has become the first President of the United States that supports gay marriage.  In an interview broadcast on the Today show, President Obama said he personally supports same sex marriage.  It ends a long weekend of speculation after Vice-President Biden said he was comfortable with it.  It also ends a long period of time when the President said he was conflicted about the issue.

There are now statements claiming that America is falling off a cliff and moving quickly down the road of moral degradation.  Similar claims were made when Abraham Lincoln ended slavery.  When Woodrow Wilson came out in support of giving the right to vote to women, more dire prediction where made.  In 1968 when the Supreme Court struck down keeping the races from marriage, it was said to be the end of civilization as we knew it.  But, the world didn’t end and debate soon dried up because of the terrible logic of those supporting the status quo. 

Now the national debate can happen again.  People will have to make choices about perhaps one the nation’s last codified discrimination policies.  There are two arguments over the last couple of days that have come to front and center on the issue. 
First, it is a moral issue.  Many religions think of marriage as only between a man and a woman.  The push to get amendments written into states’ constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman is based on moralists trying to use a community’s laws to up hold their own moral code.  This is not the purpose of law or community.  The purpose of any community is shared responsibility and to build a safe environment.  Communities should address issues that prevent activity that endangers the safety of an individual.  If the community has no compelling reason other than morality to prevent an activity, then it should not be prevented.  Marriage equity doesn’t harm anyone, so it should not be prevented. 

The other is a more fundamental reason for the fear and loathing about same sex marriage, children.  While not often talked about because of its stealth nature, it is now beginning to rise to the surface.  After Obama’s statement, religious leaders on TV talk shows mentioned the issue to grab the fear of people that are undecided about the issue.  Moralists are concerned that by allowing same sex marriage, the couple will adopt children and advance the “gay cause” by increasing the amount of gay people.  They believe that by a gay couple living the lifestyle it will teach others how to be gay.  Besides the fact that there is no evidence that being gay is a choice, children will not be harmed.  They will find themselves in a situation just like their friends that have duel sex marriage.  That as long as the children know they are loved, they are safe and they are expected to succeed, they will be just fine. 
On a final point, how can the community prevent something that is legal (and doesn’t harm anyone as mentioned above)?  If it were illegal to participate in a same sex relationship, it might be argued that same sex marriage should be illegal.  A ruling by the Supreme Court in Lawrence v Texas judged that laws prohibiting sex between consenting same sex couples is in violation of the Fourteenth amendment.  So, it is not illegal activity.

The President did the right thing to come out in support of gay marriage.  Like all the other times that we have broken with tradition, when we move pass this storm, we will find that no great harm will come to past. 
Our country is enjoying a little bit more freedom today.  Let’s allow it to grow. 
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