I wasn't thinking about writing on this topic, but here it goes anyway. Current voting in California has Proposition 8 passing, due in large part to African Americans supporting the proposition, at a clip of 70 for to 30 against despite numbers exceeding 90 percent support for Obama. While Obama was not in favor of Proposition 8, he certainly didn't want to create negative ripples by committing to heavily to this. I doubt he made commercials supporting the defeat of Proposition 8.
Someone made the argument that marriage is between a man and a woman. Now, what was this argument based on? Judeo-Christian definitions? Is marriage a sacred institution?
Let's try this thought experiment. If a man and woman are married in a Hindu ceremony, would you consider their marriage valid? Most people would, right? Yet, Hinduism is quite different from Judeo-Christian tradition. People like to point to the US as a kind of Christian nation despite the fact that the founding fathers were interested in separation of church and state. Freedom of religion should also be freedom from religion.
People like to point to religious institutions as a kind of backing to marriage, and that religious institutions generally, though not exclusively, prefer to define marriage as between a man and a woman. This religious backing creates the weight of authority.
However, it's the legal form of marriage that carries weight because that's what allows spouses to have visitation rights, to have property rights, and so on and so forth. Some people call this legal form a "civil union". People have argued for removing marriage from legal usage so that, as far as legal institutions are concerned, civil unions are what's important.
The thinking is that when you say two people are married, then their marriage is given the sanctity of some religion. However, there are religions, even in the traditional Judeo-Christian structure, perhaps especially in such traditions, that permit multiple wives. Both Muslims and Mormons allow polygamy, though multiple wives is fairly uncommon among Muslims and mainstream Mormons have long since abandoned polygamy so they could be taken more seriously by mainstream Christians.
Consider atheists. Should a male and female atheists be allowed to marry? That their marriage conforms to what religion considers valid marriage should be inconsequential. Is there marriage being given the equivalent force of religion despite the couple not believing in religion? Most people would not have a problem with atheists getting married and would not nullify their marriage.
The religious form of marriage often has a legal counterpart. Thus, Christians who don't favor polygamy, have made polygamy illegal, despite, say, certain conservative Mormons who think it's their right to have plural wives. There is a great irony that Mormons have closed off one form of marriage (same-sex marriage) which would affect more conservative Mormons.
It just so happens that most religious traditions happen to only permit a single man and a single woman to get married, but just because a couple gets married doesn't mean that some religion has permitted this to happen.
Many years ago, many states had anti-miscegenation laws which basically said couples of different races couldn't marry. This was mostly due to the fact that white Americans saw African Americans as something less than human, and that mixing black and white blood would lead to impurities in the white race. Religious figures could find justification of these laws through some passage in the Bible.
At some point, the government said this was wrong, and no such law would be allowed. These days, most people no longer consider mixed marriages a problem and certainly not enough to make the marriages null and void.
So why the change in attitude? Did the Bible change between then and now? What happened, quite simply, was that people had some irrational dislike of interracial marriages, and found some justification that made their prejudices have the weight of religion. And yet, once the laws disappeared and people got used to the idea, the thought of mixed marriages being "wrong" is seen as folly. How did we ever think like that?
I would argue that in those days, people would say such interracial marriages brought down the institution of marriage, which was a polite way of saying they disapproved of such marriages taking place.
There are already gay marriages taking place now. Do people feel like this has made their marriage less worthy?
Finally, people talk about marriage as something sacred. It's something two people get together because of religion. If that's the case, why allow divorce? Divorce is an insult to the marital institution. Despite many Christians finding the notion of arranged marriages absurd, the fact of the matter is most Indian marriages do not end in divorce. If the couple doesn't get along, they still don't get divorced. Bollywood marriages, unlike their Hollywood counterparts, generally do last, and for decades. Hollywood marriages, one could easily argue, made it acceptable for people who feel unhappy in a marriage to split up.
And yet, no one much seems to say divorce should not happen. And how many single family households are there where the mother and father never got married before the woman had a child? Should that be illegal? Should the mother have rights? No one seems to question she should despite the lack of a marriage.
The reason no one cares is that heterosexuals get divorced (at least in the US) all the time and to take this right away, despite the way it reduces the sanctity of marriage, would be unthinkable. People want the option to opt out of marriage if they can.
Ultimately, while people claim gay marriage is something most religious traditions are against, there are so many attacks on marriage that happen in normal heterosexual relations that those should be considered illegal too. The fact of the matter is that many conservatives are uncomfortable with gays in general and find some convenient religious excuse to explain why gays can not marry even as they allow atheists to marry, even as they allow married couples to divorce, people to have affairs without legal punishment.
And really, these propositions are out there anyway mostly to get a certain kind of voter to come out and vote, one who doesn't fully understand all the details, and one who is likely to vote for one party over another. At least, that's how it worked in 2004. It turns out, however, in California, the Democrats were just as guilty of this because of religious conservatism.
It's not the religious sanctity that needs to be observed, but the legal one. Whether it be called civil unions or marriage, the legal form should be allowed.
The issue of gay marriage is somewhat odd because a few years ago, most people would tell you it wasn't even on the radar (or gaydar as the case may be) of gay political activists who felt that gay marriage was so far from being socially acceptable that it wasn't worth the fight. It was only because some conservatives made it a big deal that it got a big push.
Indeed, it's as far as it is now because of that push.
But here's the kicker as far as gay marriage is concerned. Too many people still see homosexuality as something that is a choice. Yet, how many people have willingly chosen to be gay. Has the percentage gone way up? If it was so "easy" to recruit, why aren't there far more gays now?
The percentage of gays is somewhere between 5 and 10 percent, possibly smaller. With regular marriages that are maybe 10 to 20 times more common, how exactly does gay marriage affect heterosexual marriage? Indeed, if it were allowed, would it not make people more accepting of others. People hate for no good reason, and yet, this is giving the weight of law to hate more.
The irony is that there are African Americans (and Latinos and Asians) who say "we're born black" and won't believe people are born gay because it's not hereditary with 100% certainty (and really, Obama is half-white, by that measure, and really didn't go through the traditional African American experience).
People who voted for Prop 8 thought there would be certain consequences or they certainly disliked the idea, and the irony is that the same prejudices often befell them, showing that being a victim of prejudice doesn't make you any more enlightened.
Indeed, this creates interesting issues for someone like Obama. Liberals generally believe in the ability of people to do good for one another while conservatives generally believe more in survival of the fittest at least when it comes to making money and the right to discriminate, the right to impose religious values on others because people are sinful and need the weight of law to make them more like us. Indeed, conservatism is often about making others more like us, while liberals take the more challenging path of accepting people, for the most part, as themselves.
I think the key to changing views is more education. Religion seems to be against education because the goal of education, effectively, is to question authority, or to merely question. Galileo faced the wrath of the religious mighty because he dared question their view of the universe. Religion seems to say it's perfectly OK not knowing much, because it leaves the leaders in charge, and the masses pacified. Once people begin to ask "why should things be this way", they begin to make more informed choices.
And this is why, it seems, that with education, with questioning authority, we'll eventually come to see this period as a time of folly when people found reasons to hate others and dress it up in a gown of religious authority to make themselves feel better about their decisions.
corrections - - Chick Corea (note the spelling) was a member of Miles Davis' band. - Graham Chapman, the only Graham in the group, is the only deceased mem...
1 month ago