Monday, March 25, 2013

Division

The Supreme Court is taking up Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act, and it's going to be a big shift in social policy for the US either way it goes. But it shouldn't be.

Gay marriage has become the political talking point of choice for social conservatives and liberals alike. They use their position on this one issue to grapple with their base. For the conservatives, it has always been a losing battle as it becomes harder and harder to explain their opposition without sounding like discriminating bigots. The main argument they've wielded in recent years is the whole "Bible says it's wrong" argument. The problem with that argument, as you may have guessed, is that our political system is not built on religious doctrine (one can make an argument for or against its influence). But it's the only argument they have against gay marriage.

The funny thing is, fiscal conservatives should really be in favor of gay marriage, since it measns more tax revenue for the federal government. It also means a more streamlined insurance industry, since providers won't have to fight with those who've lost life partners and want to collect benefits. It would make it easier for couples looking to adopt as well, since there wouldn't be such a big issue over which partner will have custody.

Aside from the legal and social reasons for supporting gay marriage, it's worth noting the profound moral reasons as well. Denying rights to a segment of the population because of their lifestyle is discrimination, pure and simple. It doesn't matter if you believe that homosexuality is biological or if it is a choice, if a person is living their life in the manner of their choosing, it is wrong to limit their rights and protections because of that. It is an imperative of equality that we extend the same rights to all individuals in equal measure. It was decided decades ago that all individuals over the age of 18 were allowed to vote, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. It is illegal to discriminate for a job based on race, gender, or sexual orientation. This same logic should be applied to marriage.

I understand that Christians feel that to allow gay marriage is to threaten the institution itself. The problem is, there are many people who are not Christians who get married. Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Wiccans, Atheists, and Agnostics all get married. Does this threaten the Christian marriage institution? If a person chooses to become a Muslim and then gets married, is that a threat to Christian marriage?

So, I'm hopeful that the Supreme Court will ere on the side of equality and fairness, and not be bogged down by a religious doctrine that is meant to hold no weight in our politics anyway.

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