Monday, November 27, 2006

the marriage crap

okay yeah i know that i said i'd post in a bit but around here two weeks really is a bit.

tertia and the gay marriage thing, short and sweet. here's my deal:

in our society we have invested marriage not only with spiritual and religious meaning, but also with legal meaning under civil law. i support your right to be as narrow-minded and exclusionary as you wish in your church, so if you want to marry only 18 year old heterosexuals who don't use birth control and have unprotected sex only in the missionary position through a hole in the sheets and otherwise sleep on separate beds, exclusively for reproduction and never to derive any pleasure from, be my guest. my problem with your attitude begins when you try to impose your narrow-mindedness on society as a whole.

in a civil society where we espouse freedom and try to prohibit discrimination, creating a system where some people can access some civilly-recognized benefits and others can not is inherently unequal and discriminatory. we use marriage to define eligibility for inheritance, custodianship and guardianship, insurance, entitlements (such as social security benefits), community property, and so on. limiting these rights to heterosexual couples is inherently unequal, especially when they are imposed (as they usually are) on some fundamentally religious basis. if you in any way justify your "man + woman = marriage" thing on anything jesus, god, vishna, the parking goddess, the bible, the koran, the good book, the bad book, that other book, or the dude in church, said did wrote or wants, you are using religion as justification for imposition of your view on society. likewise, if you fall back to "that's the way it's always been," you might consider lots of people used to think that enslaving black people to work in cotton fields was a good and justified thing, and some people still do, even though as a society we have generally moved beyond that notion.

in a society where we value freedom of religion, we don't do that. it would seem, then, that in the united states, we don't actually value freedom in the way we say we do. rather, we value the ideal of freedom, but we prefer the implementation of religious bigotry.

there are three solutions to this problem, and i'll leave as an exercise to the one and only reader which might be better:

1) abolish the notion that we are, fundamentally, a society that values freedom of religion. drop the pretense and state clearly and unequivocally that you need to be a jesus freak to live in the united states, and you must accept the bible as the inerrant word of the spook hisself.

2) abolish the notion that civil marriage, with its rights and privileges, is inherently a male-female thing. in this situation, we would extend recognition on an equal legal (although not religious) basis to all couples.

3) abolish the notion that marriage should convey rights and privileges in civil society and law. doing so would require significant changes to laws on marriage, divorce, property rights, guardianship and custodianship rights, insurance, retirement, entitlements, and on and on and on. but in so doing, we would create a system in which your sexuality does not matter. this would move marriage out of the legal/civil and fully into the spiritual sphere.

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