Notice: Frank use of heterosexist language to make a point.
Excuse the title, but this is the most succinct reply I can think of when hassled by conservative Christians why I can’t be bothered to participate in their culture wars. “Don’t you care about gay marriage?” they ask me.
Because I have a life, I tend to use the simply reply of, “No, I don’t care about gay marriage.”
More specifically, I don’t care about the hype that surrounds gay marriage or the political action taken against it. I don’t care about, nor do I care for, government interference with consensual adult relationships, living arrangements, or sharing of assets. I don’t care about gay marriage. I don’t care about polygamous or polyamorous marriage. I don’t care about straight domestic partnerships. I don’t care about common law marriage or cohabitation or any of these lifestyle choices. More importantly, the government shouldn’t either.
Typically, when confronted with arguments against gay marriage, its proponents argue that gays and lesbians are regular people, with loving partners and children that they care for. They argue that gays and lesbians are born that way. They argue that gays and lesbians aren’t a danger to children. They argue that gays and lesbians pay taxes. They argue that gays and lesbians have good morals and often are religious (not that being religious is a prerequisite for good morals, and that all religious people possess good morals). They argue that gays and lesbians aren’t asking for special rights, just equal rights, and to be left alone. Gays and lesbians have straight family and friends. They are committed and monogamous. Gays and lesbians aren’t going to Hell (which not everyone believes in anyway) and aren’t trying to recruit children. All of these points could be validly argued and I could add plenty more. I won’t be focusing on those. To me, they do not address the heart of the issue.
For me, the heart of the issue is this: Let us assume that all of the accusations ever leveled at the QUILTBAG community are 100% true. Let’s assume that every argument ever leveled against gay marriage was verified, unassailable fact.
I don’t care if gays and lesbians are diseased. I don’t care if they hate children. I don’t care if they chose to be that way. I don’t care if they pay taxes, attend religious services, have children, are monogamous, or volunteer. I don’t care if they’re morally upstanding. I don’t care if they all have AIDS and harbor secret and perverse sexual fantasies. I don’t care if they identify with mainstream society, want special rights, or wish for the death of heterosexuals. I don’t care if they advocate the destruction of heterosexual marriage. I don’t care if they’re headed for an early grave. I don’t care if they’re headed straight and irreversibly for Hell.
None of the above means that government should interfere with the right of homosexuals to live together, share assets, or engage in a consensual relationship. The government should not interfere with their free speech, free assembly, or free exercise of religion. The government should not promote activities that foster “good moral character”, nor should they promote a particular version of family life. The government should protect rights, maintain law and order, provide for the common welfare and the common defense. Anything beyond that is beyond the purpose of the government.
Whether you like it or not, a government that controls your assets, living arrangements, and sexual relationships can control whether, when, and how many children you have. This means, for example, that if you don’t want to use birth control and aspire to a large family, the government could take away your right to pursue those choices. A government that controls marriage can control marriage rights. This means that religious political powers can deny marriage benefits and recognition to those outside of the religious majority. A government that controls marriage can take it upon themselves to enforce those controls through violations of privacy and constitutional rights.
I don’t want to live in a country like that.
But what about Christian marriage?
What about Christian marriage? Let’s assume that we all agree that gay marriages by definition cannot be Christian marriages. Again, I ask, “what about Christian marriage?”
Gay marriage is not a threat to Christian marriage. Gay marriage does not cause Christian marriages to end in separation or divorce (another area of life that I don’t want government interference with). Gay marriage doesn’t cause the young, inexperienced, or otherwise unprepared to enter into unions they aren’t able to maintain. Gay marriage doesn’t cause domestic violence or exploitation in Christian marriages. Gay marriage doesn’t cause Christian marriages to suffer economic hardship or to have more children than they can afford. It doesn’t cause Christians to not be able to have the desired children. It doesn’t cause adultery, betrayal, or neglect in Christian marriages. It doesn’t cause Christians to enter into marriage for the wrong reasons. It doesn’t cause immaturity or unrealistic expectations in Christian marriages. None of these marital problems have anything to do with gay marriage and everything to do with the attitudes and behavior of married Christians. If they want to bolster Christian marriage, they themselves need to learn what it is and set an example. They need to create a vision, argue it with facts and reason, and promote it. That’s not the state’s job.
Some people will probably accuse me of being a coward for not publicly standing in favor of Christian values (whatever that means). And that’s just silliness on spades.
I am not the one wielding the power of the state to harass powerless minorities. I am not the one spending large sums of money and manpower undermining civil liberties for my own gain. I’m not the taking the easy way out by begging and bullying the state to do what should be my job as an individual Christian. I actually expect Christians to compete in the marketplace of ideas just like everyone else. I have enough respect and enough faith in the intellect of Christians to believe that they can present a case worthy of public consideration. That they can take the criticism and handle the consequences if they’re wrong.
You could use a lot of words to describe me, but for the time being, coward isn’t one of them.