Leaning to the Left

Writing from a liberal persuasion

Posts Tagged ‘gay marriage’

Hate Speech, or an Articulation of the Conservative Ideals?

Posted by Beau Winiger on May 6, 2009

The social conservative movement is continuing its shuffle into being an obsolete movement.  Consider the case of Joe the Plumber.  Everyone remember him, the guy named Joe, real name Samuel Wurzelbacher, that is a plumber, but not really, that came to fame during the 2008 presidential election?  Well, he is back in the news for an interview he gave with Christianity Today on the subject of gay marriage.  In the interview Joe said that referring to homosexuals as queer isn’t a slander, because it by definition means “strange and unusual”, which in Mr. Wurzelbacher’s mind is a perfect description of homosexuals.  He then goes on to say that his gay friends “know that I wouldn’t have them anywhere near my children”.

Normally I would consider Mr. Wurzelbacher as someone who doesn’t really deserve mention.  After all, he is just a man who has tried to extend his 15 minutes of fame into a career, but he doesn’t have any credentials in the world of politics beyond being asked a question.  But Rush Limbaugh, who commands on audience of some 20 million listeners, and has become a sort of leader for the conservative movement as of late, recently called him someone who can “articulate conservatism”.  He referred to Mr. Wurzelbacher as such the day after his comments regarding homosexuals.  In other words, Mr. Limbaugh believes that someone who thinks homosexuals can’t be trusted around children is a perfect spokesman for conservatism.

Such a statement adds explicit support from a powerful conservative figure, and therefore legitimacy (at least amongst those who find Limbaugh legitimate) to Mr. Wurzelbacher’s statement.  And yet there is no outcry from any conservative leaders.  No conservative leader is willing to stand up to Rush and say they disagree.  Now I am not expecting a conservative leader to say that he agrees with homosexuality or gay marriage, but at the very least I would hope that one would object to such hate speech being typical of the conservative stance towards homosexuality.

How long will we as a people stand for this?  Aren’t we past the point where educated people refuse to give national platform to someone who believes that homosexuality is something to be feared, something that we need to protect our children against?  Whether or not the majority of conservatives agree with Mr. Wurzelbacher and Mr. Limbaugh is not the point.  Their silence on the subject, and Mr. Limbaugh’s continued large listenership, is implicit support of a position that is antiquated and hate-filled. 

The year is 2009, and yet it is still necessary to tell conservatives that homosexuals are normal people.  They are the exact same as straight people.  Their sexual orientation is not some looking glass into what type of person they are.  There are good, upstanding homosexuals as well as bad, immoral homosexuals, in the same manner that there are both types of heterosexuals.  They do not desire special treatment, or special recognition, they only desire to be treated the same as every other person in this country. 

The gay struggle for equality in America is the one of the most important human rights campaigns in America right now.  It is still accepted to refer to something or someone that is stupid or lame as gay.  It is accepted to publicly say that you wouldn’t let homosexuals around your children.  It is accepted to believe that homosexuals should not be allowed to adopt because they are unfit to be parents.  Homosexuality is a product of being born.  That is it.  It makes no more sense to discriminate against homosexuals than it does to discriminate against women, minorities, etc, and yet the hate and discrimination continues without a second thought, an ingrained piece of our culture, a person that everyone can join in and discriminate against.  Every single person in this country should be against discrimination, in any form, yet there are many unwilling to join in the fight for equal rights for homosexuals. 

Let me repeat, I do not expect conservatives to support gay marriage, at least not right now.  But I do not believe it is not asking too much for them to turn their backs on those in the conservative movement that feel that blatant discrimination and hate speech against homosexuals is acceptable.  Those that make such statements, and anyone who doesn’t believe those statements are a big deal, are un-American.  That is not a term lightly thrown around, but is there any other name for someone who doesn’t believe the Founding Fathers were correct in proclaiming that they wished America to be a place where all people were created with “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”?

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Gay Marriage: Moving Towards Equality

Posted by Beau Winiger on April 30, 2009

Gay marriage is back in the headlines.  Between the recent legalization of gay marriage in Iowa, the controversy over Miss California’s statements regarding gay marriage, and legislation passed in New Hampshire to legalize gay marriage (contingent on the governor’s approval) the debate that will not die is back in the news.  This issue is one that has very little middle ground.  Either you are for it or against it, but very few people are apathetic on the subject.

As of this writing, there are four states that allow gay marriage (New Hampshire would become the fifth), and a handful of states that recognize some form of civil unions.  Proponents of same sex marriage claim that it is a matter of equal rights, while opponents use a number of arguments ranging from religious conviction to opposition to courts litigating values.  This author falls in the camp of believing that denial of gay marriage is a matter of denying equal rights to all citizens of this country.

In this author’s opinion it is not necessary to expound to greatly on the reasons for allowing gay marriage.  Denying gay citizens the same rights as straight Americans is simply a matter of rights.  If you believe that all citizens should be allowed the same rights then it is hard to see why gay marriage should not be legal.  Therefore the majority of this article will deal with opponents arguments.

The majority of opposition (though certainly not all) is based on religious conviction.  Those that use this argument believe that their religion opposes gay marriage, and for courts to legalize gay marriage is a denial of their religious rights.  Unfortunately for those in this camp this country is not a theocratic state.  Clergy members should have every right to refuse to marry same sex couples, but this does not immediately translate to denying marriage at a civil level to same sex couples.  No one should be attempting to force a clergy member to do something that violates their religious belief, but, as far as the government is concerned, only the civil marriage matters.  That is why a married couple needs to receive a marriage license in addition to the religious ceremony that they might wish to have performed.

Another main argument used by opponents is that the courts have no business litigating matters such as marriage.  They claim that the matter should be decided by the states, and any judicial decisions are usurping the rights of the citizens of that state to determine their own laws.  But one need only look at the case of interracial marriage, which was still illegal in many states until 1967, to see a powerful corollary.  In 1967 the Supreme Court, in the case of Loving v. Virginia, ruled that a ban on interracial marriage violated the constitution.  This ruling ended all bans on interracial marriage, even though many states had their own laws against it.  If opponents of gay marriage wish to remain consistent then they must also oppose the Supreme Court’s ruling.  After all, this ruling, passed down by judges that were not elected, overruled state rights to determine how they handle marriage.  Despite this I am not aware of anyone in the anti-gay marriage crowd that will publicly denounce the ruling ending interracial marriage.

One other main argument against gay marriage is that it attempts to rewrite “natural law” about what marriage is, namely between a man and a woman.  They claim that since marriage “has always been” between a man and a woman, it should remain that way.  Once again the example of interracial marriage provides a clear example of when it is okay to rewrite marriage.  In this country it was necessary to rewrite the laws on marriage to allow not only interracial marriage, but marriage between two black people as well.  If we buy into the argument that you shouldn’t rewrite marriage then there would never be any progress towards equality amongst all citizens. 

There are many other social arguments against gay marriage (harm to children, removing both a mother and father for children, harm to marriage, etc) but these arguments are not supported by anything more than a gut feeling.  Children raised by gay parents are not more likely to be gay, but only more likely to be accepting of gay people.  In other words these children are raised to be less prejudiced against other people, hardly a bad thing.  Also, gay parents are not removing children from homes that already have 2 straight parents.  In most cases they are adopting a child, a child that otherwise would not have any parents.  Even if you don’t believe that gay parents are as good as straight parents, it is hard to argue that no parents are better for children than gay parents.  Finally, the argument from harm to marriage is just ridiculous.  By legalizing gay marriage you are only working to strengthen marriage as an institution.  As the current divorce rate is testament to, it is hard enough for any couple to make marriage work for an entire lifetime.  When you compound that with the banning of gay marriage you are creating a situation where long term stable gay couples have to work twice as hard to survive.  There is also no documented rush of otherwise straight people suddenly becoming gay in states that have legalized gay marriage.  Just because it is now legal does not automatically make it “the cool thing to do”.  And anyone that was in a straight marriage and, upon gay marriage legalization, suddenly leaves their spouse to get married to a gay partner probably was not in a strong marriage to begin with.

In this author’s opinion, an opposition to gay marriage at the civil level is a clear cut example of prejudice, despite opponents claims to the contrary.  Gays in this country have been historically discriminated against, whether it be banning of gay marriage or arcane sodomy laws.  Just because all opponents may not recognize their own prejudice does not mean that such prejudice does not exist.  Gays in this country are, in almost all states, not allowed to marry because they are different from straight people.  But the tide is starting to turn, and in a few states courts or, in the case of Vermont and perhaps New Hampshire, legislators, are recognizing that denying gay couples the same rights afforded to straight couples is unconstitutional.  Hopefully one day the history books will look back upon this legalized discrimination against gay couples as just one more historical instance of prejudice, a legalized prejudice that was eventually overturned.

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Massachusetts to Ban Same-Party Marriage

Posted by Beau Winiger on April 28, 2009

Landmark legislation was introduced in Massachusetts today that would become the first of its kind to ban Republicans from marrying other Republicans.  The bill is the first in the nation that would attempt to legislate the union of members of political parties.

The bill was introduced by Senator Bob Cornhole, who says he believes the legislation is necessary to protect the sanctimony of marriage for the rest of his state.  “For far too long now I have witnessed the destruction of values that we as a people hold to be sacred,” Sen. Cornhole said.  “Republicans, with their love of war and torture, are actively working to destroy the very fabric of our society, and it is time for someone to stand up to their Republican agenda.”

The bill would not make it illegal for Republicans to wed Democrats, provided they agreed to refrain from imposing their beliefs on members of society.  “I don’t have any problem with Republicans,” says Suzie Carpetmuncher, a supporter of the bill.  “They should be free to do what they want behind their own closed doors, but they shouldn’t expect the state to endorse their lifestyle.”

The bill, which enjoys broad support across the state, would also make it illegal for Republican couples to adopt children or lead Boy Scout troops.  While there are no studies to support the idea that a Republican couple that raise a child will turn their children into Republicans, many members of the Senate have a gut feeling that Republicans raising children can’t be good.

Opponents of the bill claim that, if passed, the bill would treat them as second class citizens by denying them the same rights enjoyed by other citizens.  “My partner and I have been together for 8 years now, and for the state to suddenly say that we shouldn’t be able to marry is just unthinkable,” said a Republican that wished to keep his identity secret.  “How can the state expect to legislate how I feel.  I didn’t choose to be this way, I can’t help how I feel.”

When asked about such criticisms Sen. Cornhole’s office released the following statement:  “Yea, well that’s too bad.”

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