Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Innaugural post: I rant

As most everybody knows by now, a majority of voting Californians voted in support of Proposition 8, which, if it’s not overturned, will amend the state constitution to state that marriage contracts can only exist between a man and a woman.
The No on Proposition 8 website claims that some who voted for it were misled as to its intent, so I address this question only to those who voted for it, and possess the reading comprehension skills necessary to understand what it means to vote for something called “Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry”: why? How would it hurt you? In what way is the restriction that marriage contracts may only be issued if each party is different in a category mediated by the government to usually reflect a social category (How does transsexuality fit into their claims about needing distinct gender roles or whatever?), which further usually reflects anatomical and genetic categories, many of which (Klinefelter’s syndrome, Turner syndrome, XXXX syndrome, XXYY syndrome, XXXXX syndrome, XXXXY syndrome, etc. IIRC, Klinefelter’s is the most likely to be relevant, simply because it’s the most common.) don’t adequately correspond to any of the higher-level categories, at all beneficial to you, the voter?
It appears that one set of arguments in favor asserted that, in a slightly roundabout fashion, allowing gay marriage would force schools to teach that gay marriage is “moral”. First off, it is, all else being equal, and second off, if you didn’t believe that first point, California law allows parents to selectively opt out of any particular lesson related to family, health, or sex ed.
As of November 8, http://www.protectmarriage.com/ asserts that one argument in favor is that state-issued marriage licenses will force people to be tolerant and open-minded. Thank you, protectmarriage.com, thank you for shattering all of the positive stereotypes I had about California and open-mindedness.
http://www.whatisprop8.com/ asserts, in addition to the above argument about schools, that various organizations who refuse to serve gay couples on religious grounds could lose tax exempt status (churches) or face litigation (everything else). First off, I don’t think religious institutions should be tax-exempt, but that’s something for another time. The other side is examples of businesses facing consequences for not doing their job. As a counterpoint: some of the supporters of Prop 8 were not regular, or, indeed, ever churchgoers. I hope that was the argument that swayed them, because, if so, I’m going to declare myself a religious organization and claim tax-exempt status on everything I do, and claim that a complex combination of holy days prevents me from working unless I really want to. The thing about a religion is that it can say nearly anything.
NOM California’s preferred “talking point” is “People have a right to live as they choose; activist judges don’t have the right to redefine marriage for the rest of us.” Which is fine and dandy until you realize that allowing gay people to marry doesn’t change your marriage in any tangible way. What thought process is this supposed to appeal to? I’m sorry, but anything that you feel is cheapened by some other people also being able to do it, when you’re fine with most other people being able to do it, can’t be worth all that much in the first place. I’ll admit that this did stop me dead. I think it was the combination of hypocrisy, disingenuousness, and sophistry. They expand upon this idea, saying “The people of California do not want the government teaching our children or grandchildren that our deeply cherished ideas of marriage are just bigotry or like racism.” I imagine the bigots and racists of yesteryear would be rather unhappy about today’s curricula, as well. This isn’t about you. It’s about gay marriage, which has nothing to do with you unless you let it. “Marriage is about bringing together men and women so children can have mothers and fathers.” And divorce is sometimes about children just having one parent, and growing up regardless. And marriages in Vegas are about getting drunk and making front page of the supermarket tabloids. Speaking as somebody who may well enter into a “traditional marriage” (though without the position of unquestioned authority, ownership of wife as property, only white people can do it, etc) I feel safe in saying that it’s not necessarily pretty. It’s really just about getting pretty people to participate. “Who gets harmed? The people of this state who lose our right to define marriage as the union of husband and wife, that’s who. That is just not right.” That seems like a narrowly applied right that simply means imposing your personal feelings on the law. Prop 8 may have passed democratically—narrowly—but that is simply the tyranny of the majority. “But marriage isn’t just any kind of love; it’s the special love of husband and wife for each other and their children.” I missed this point before: do you think that a husband and wife who don’t want children are subverting marriage? Should married couples be required to have children, to keep their license? Although children can be, and usually are, part of marriage, sometimes marriage is just about being a family. A small family, perhaps, but a family. “Every man and woman who marries is capable of giving any child they create (or adopt) a mother and a father. No same-sex couple can do this.” I wonder how you feel about widows or widowers with children. Should they remarry as soon as possible? I’m going to consider that a rhetorical question, because the sheer crassness... eugh.
Various of those sites also argued that this whole argument is unnecessary, because gay couples can already enter into domestic partnerships. So, it’s separate from marriage, but provides approximately equal rights. Sounds familiar, for some reason...
That’s all I’m going to address for now, but I hope I made myself clear on those points. In addition, I hope that my belittling of talking points and, once or twice, sanity and intelligence, will spur discussion of some kind, because I seriously don’t get why people would vote to define it as between a man and a woman, when “man” and “woman” are legal codifications of social concepts that do not encompass all etc etc.

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