Thursday, October 23, 2008

Whom Does It Harm?

Okay, I'm now at a complete loss. Yesterday, while driving home, I passed through an intersection where all four corners were occupied by people holding yellow signs that read such things as "Prop 8 = Free Speech" and "Prop 8 = Religious Freedom". I don't get it.

For those who aren't familiar, California's Proposition 8 is referred to colloquially as the "Gay Marriage Ban". It's a fairly small and simple proposition that would change the California constitution to specify that marriage should be limited to a union between a man and a woman. It's designed to prevent same-sex couples from getting married. Gay marriage is something that I personally am in favor of, but I can usually see other peoples' point of view. I can sort of understand why others might be against it. What I don't understand is why those who are against it should force others to adhere to their tastes.

Getting back to the slogans on those signs: how could a gay marriage ban be free speech? I suppose it's freedom for the people who are imposing the ban, but what about the freedom of the people whose ability to get married are being banned? What an incredibly one-way freedom. The same goes for religious freedom: it's freedom for your religion, not others. You're imposing your will on others. Talking about Proposition 8, either for or against, is certainly be free, but the proposition itself most certainly does not represent freedom.

One of the major arguments of the pro-8 people is that there's always civil unions, which are "just like" marriage. Of course, that's not really the case; there are certain things to which married people are entitled that civil unions don't cover. But the whole argument smacks of a very similar saying: separate but equal. If I recall correctly, that was shot down pretty handily around forty years ago. I wonder if anybody's tried mentioning this to the proponents.

The whole thing just makes me angry. Whether you agree or not with a couple's right to get married, how does it harm you? Are you and your spouse going to love each other less because two same-sex people get married? Do you think you will receive fewer rights because of their marriage? If you're so against their rights, it's likely you'll never meet these people. How will you ever be affected in any way by them?

My wife (yes, I'm married to someone of the opposite sex) is of the opinion that all marriages should be completely eradicated from all legal books. As far as the law is concerned, only civil unions should be recognized. If you want to go to a church and have them perform a religious marriage ceremony, that's just fine. But a marriage, in and of itself, would be only a religious institution. Only the civil union would be legally binding.

I think she's got a good point.

But it all boils down to people's rights and equality. Claiming to talk about religious freedom and freedom of speech while all the time working hard to trample others' freedoms is just plain hypocritical. I wonder if we should ban such people.

1 comment:

Bridget said...

The only point that I have heard that makes all that make sense is this: the proponents are threatening the religious folks by saying that, if this measure doesn't pass, churches that refuse to recognize gay marriages will lose their tax-exempt status. I don't see that as a logical extension, but that is where the "freedom of religion" thang is coming from.