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Monday, June 5, 2006

The Obsession Continues

The power of ideology to cause people to waste huge sums of time and money on the irrelevant never ceases to amaze me. When it results in the needless oppression of other people it is particularly unfortunate.

I recently caught some of a Booknotes presentation on C-SPAN, from Glenn T. Stanton on his new book, Marriage on Trial: The Case Against Same-Sex Marriage.1 Stanton has written before about the importance of marriage. In fact, I myself have written of the importance of strong, committed marriages (see 2.15 Sex, Relationships, & Marriage, paragraphs 2.15.13 to 2.15.17).2 That's why I would advocate them for homosexuals too, unlike Stanton.

When it came to gay marriage, Stanton brought up the typical points about redefining marriage and it being a social experiment, and it being harmful to children, unnatural, so on and so on. I’ll not go into them all here, as it would be tedious and pointless. For more specific refutations of these assertions, there are plenty of online sources I’ve found to be sound and reasonable, including HERE.3 Every single argument for restricting marriage solely to heterosexuals is plainly nonsensical and flawed - obviously the mere result of a carefully-masked psychological and cultural distaste of the concept. Such farces of argument are undeserving of serious response.

What is serious is the threat to personal liberty and the effects on real people’s lives that is at stake. Allow gay marriage and some conservative’s life with his or her spouse is entirely unaffected, other than being irritated needlessly about other people’s business. But ban it and real individuals seeking to enjoy the status and legal benefits of their personal relationships and families are affected – the quality of their lives directly impacted.

According to a recent Associated Press article,4 the Senate will be considering a gay marriage ban. The measure has little chance of passing since all but one Democrat and even a few Republicans are against it. But it isn’t as if enough legal harm hasn’t been done already. As Senator Joseph Biden (D-Del) said, “We already have a law, the Defense of Marriage Act. ... Nobody has violated that law. There's been no challenge to that law. Why do we need a constitutional amendment?” I think it is interesting to note that in most cases amendments to the constitution have been to expand personal liberty, not shrink them. Here, after more than two centuries we have only seen it necessary to amend our constitution 27 times - and this is what they are thinking would make a good 28th?

In the online summary of the C-SPAN presentation5, Stanton claims that the debate on same-sex marriage has been “poisoned in a negative way” that casts opponents as “hateful, homophobic, bigots.” Perhaps that’s because it is difficult to imagine other examples of someone legitimately seeking to tell other people how they can live, even through legislation, where they themselves aren’t affected in any way. Perhaps it is because its difficult to imagine any other motivation for such outrageous behavior other than hate, ignorance, or unfounded bias.

1) Amazon page: Marriage on Trial: LINK
2) 2.15 Sex, Relationships, & Marriage: LINK
3) Human Rights Campaign: LINK
4) Senate to Tackle Gay Marriage Ban: LINK
5) C-SPAN Booknotes summary: Marriage on Trial: LINK


  1. In many respects, this ideological debate reminds me of the global warming and evolution debates (debacles?) - the inappropriate and inaccurate use of alleged facts to support a right-wing position based on the narrow views of a select few. Why must we, as a human beings, constantly try to legislate our neighbors' lifestyles, religious values, and political beliefs? If our society has a major weakness right now, it's the feeling among a surprisingly large number of us who feel we have the right to stick our collective noses into other people's business when someone doesn't fit our definition of a patriotic, upright Christian who's values don't support the "American Way."

    I for one am embarassed by the "American Way" right now. Having been around the planet for 60+ years, this has been the low point for me as an American, when I look at our track records on human rights, aggression, and compassion for people - American or otherwise.

    Sorry for the negative tone DT, but I've had the religious right and conservative values up to my last gray hair. But to finish up on a positive note, I'm just naive enough to believe the system will right itself in a few years, and clear thinking will re-emerge and attempt to start putting common sense and respect for peoples' lives back into the mainstream where it was intended to be all along.

  2. Good points Father Time. Let's hope so. One main concern I have with regards to the pendulum swinging back is the dire condition of our people's education (meaning a well rounded full education and general ignorance level). Kids definitely aren't getting what they need right now; academically, socially, rationally, or ethically.

  3. Great post, again! Yes, it's embarrassing how we've regressed in our views here in the U.S. (as how it's portrayed in the political climate, at least), esp in regard to hot-button issues. We seem to be on a rather hardlined conservative roll. I only hope that in time it burns itself out as people gradually begin to realize the folly of it and then start moving in the opposite direction.

  4. Thanks Tangyapple :)

    It's all very mechanical actually. When you poke a paramecium with a stick it jumps back. When you attack a nation it becomes more hostile and oppressive. The pendulum swings and it is the task of reasonable people to always push it to the middle; hopefully lessening the extremity of those swings.