As a good California resident, it’s no surprise I cast my lot (figuratively) with Barack Obama, the clear favorite of the Golden State. Indeed, after the shortest election night I can remember, we heard the concession speech just after 8p and the victory speech soon after.
One has to admit that the real surprise of the night was John McCain’s concession speech. It was the McCain I remember pre-2004: the man of integrity that puts his country above his own interests and those of his party. He was gracious beyond reproach, in one fell swoop making me forget the rhetoric he had been spewing for months. Besides, the words were aided by his demeanor. John McCain seemed genuinely relieved this election was over. Not that he lost it, mind you, just that it was over and that he could return to being the man he had been his whole life long. I doubt we’ll see him running for president again.
Barack Obama’s speech was great, but it wasn’t a surprise. He said all the right things, he re-emphasized his main campaign points, he pushed the notion of bipartisanship and of coming together. He was brilliant, but somehow we have gotten used to it already, and expectations on this side of the fence are almost infinite, yet it somehow seems that what we consider infinite now is doable, quite doable.
To my dismay, California Proposition 8, the Gay Marriage Amendment, passed by a slim majority of 52% – 48%. I am really heartbroken about his, especially because of the questionable provenance of the support for it.
The rhetoric on the issue was fairly clear on the No side: the Supreme Court of California unequivocally stated that homosexuality is a category that is protected against discrimination based on prior acts against it and on continued legislation that asserts such discrimination is illegal. Hence, marriage couldn’t be excluded from homosexual couples unless there was a compelling state interest, one that the state could never prove.
Now, on the Yes side, the argument became a little muddled. As far as I can reconstruct, these were the main talking points:
- The Supreme Courth is redefining the word “marriage.” This is an extension of the continuity argument ("It has always been this way") we are all familiar with. Marriage has always been defined as the union between one man and a woman, hence it needs to continue to be that way. Of course, this argument is per se idiotic and irrelevant.
- Marriage is an institution meant to foster procreation, and should be limited to couples that can procreate. Another argument that seems to make little sense, since there are much more useful ways of protecting procreation. Regardless, I sense that this argument gained traction because the counter was even lamer: the No side argued that, should this be a valid argument, then couples that cannot procreate because one or both partners cannot (due to illness or age) should be barred, as well.
The weakness of the argument is that there is no easily identifiable class of people that cannot procreate, and that a law against them would be bizarre. A law against a man marrying a man or a woman marrying a woman is easy. A better way to counter this argument would have been, I believe, that the foundational aspect of marriage is the creation of a stable nucleus, and that procreation is not an essential part of it. In short, it’s not about procreation, but about sanctioning relationships we have found to be stable.
It stands to be proven that gay marriages are more stable than gay civil unions – but unless we have marriages, we cannot disprove that they might be better. In short, it’s about showing whether marriage is better for gay people than not having the option.
On the other hand, if procreation were the main aspect of marriage, then we wouldn’t ban so many different forms of marriage that are clearly valuable for procreation, like polygamy, marriage between minors, etc.
- Homosexuality is a sin and should not be condoned by the government. This is the most dangerous and stupidest of all arguments in the matter, since it ties two things that are not tied, and does so in a matter that is counter to the very religion that is pushing the argument.
There is little argument that the Old Testament and the letters of Paul include some form of condemnation of some forms of homosexuality. The Old Testament references only sexuality between men (not women). Paul’s letters a strangely vague and talk about immoral behavior and giving oneself away to the lusts of the flesh against nature. We’ve followed the debate ad nauseam. While this is true, it is also true that no sin precludes a man and a woman from getting married, no matter how grave. The only exclusions we currently know are between people that are closely related – but murderers seem to have no problem getting married even if in prison, and other sinners against God are happily married. If not before God, then before a civil servant.
Furthermore, we are perfectly happy to marry a gay man and a lesbian, as the ex-gay movement successfully proved, further invalidating the argument that procreation is a goal of marriage. It’s puzzling: we choose a particular sin and decide that this particular sin is going to be bad enough to prevent people from getting married.
Even if I had proven that this religious argument is stupid, which you can decide for yourself – how is it dangerous? And for whom might it be dangerous?
Well, fact is that the religion that is loudest about rejecting gay marriage is Christianity – but that’s the only religion whose founder explicitly allowed gay marriage.
Matthew 18:19: “Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.” (NIV)
That is, by simply stating the agreement between them, two women or two men are married before God. That’s not an opinion, that’s not arguable, that’s what Jesus Christ said in a very pointed way.
Of course, if you read this passage, the other passage relating to marriage, where Jesus says that what God put together man shall not tear asunder, tells us that those that ban gay marriage are putting themselves against the will of God.
If you thought I believe this marriage ban is dangerous for society at large, for the couples that cannot get wed, or for some unspecified third party, you would be wrong. I believe that by voting for Proposition 8, a Christian goes directly against the commandments of Jesus.