11 May 2012

Gay Marriage and My 10-Foot Pole

For the love of Jesus, Buddha and the seven dwarves, enough already!

We are being dragged into a political fugue state where astounding attention is being paid to the issue of gay people getting married.

That is distracting us from real problems and it is the people who profit from the real problems who are rending their garments about how we are all going to Hell if any gay people get married.

Jesus Christ (which isn’t a bad allusion), let’s put gay marriage to bed. (No pun was intended, but I’ll probably claim it was later.)

The solution doesn’t take a great deal of analysis. We seem to have a problem, however, in doing any analysis at all.


  • Gay people form romantic attachments to others of the same gender. Some of those relationships become committed relationships.
  • Straight people form romantic attachments to others of the opposite gender. Some of those relationships become committed relationships.
  • We provide legal benefits to some committed relationships.
  • To have those benefits, the couple has to have the union “solemnized,” that is, created in law much as you would create a Corporation. We call that marriage. Almost everywhere, marriage is limited to the second class of persons, those of opposite genders.

No, no, no, don’t skip to the bottom and see where I’m going with this. This is analysis, remember?

The reason so many people are acting like morons with poor ethical potty training is that they already know the answer in advance so they don’t bother with inconvenient things like facts or logic.

The legal benefits attached to marriage are considerable. They include such things as rights of inheritance and rights of access to medical insurance and pension payments. Marriage also creates an orderly manner to obtain equity between the participants if the relationship ever ends.

This “solemnization” draws a bright line and thereby avoids lots and lots of litigation about who is and is not a legitimate “partner.” Recall, for example, the Lee Marvin case in California around 20 years ago. It was a case where a long time girlfriend of the late actor sought some sort of alimony and ultimately was denied. Had they been married, we never would’ve heard about the dispute.

The second requirement, that the solemnization be opposite-gender-specific just isn’t rational any more.

Unions between gay people are formed in fact. No law is going to change that. There are laws on the books all over the place banning gay activity and those laws never stopped anybody. Given that we're going to have these unions, what is the justification to treat those people differently?

I hear two basic classes of them, which are sort of two sides of the same coin. There is a third which few people talk about but which does deserve mention.

It against what the Bible says. Okay, I suppose so. That being said, that hasn’t stopped a lot of sin. I think it’s a little bit cheeky to tell God to stand down, that we will handle this whole sin retribution thing.

Giving God orders has never seemed to work real well. Giving people orders in God’s name is hubris on the hoof.  And I'm doubting that the Lord God relays orders through idiots.

But okay, maybe our buddies at the Westboro Baptist Church (gotta love 'em – see below) are right and we should stone gay people.  Hell, the Taliban does it, so there IS precedent.

Okay, I’ll tell you what: Next Saturday at noon, I’ll meet you at Red Lobster and I’ll bring my camera. I’ll make a good clear little documentary of you assassinating everybody inside who is eating lobster, clams, oysters or crab.

Leviticus 11:9-12 (KJV) - 9 These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: whatsoever hath fins and scales in the waters, in the seas, and in the rivers, them shall ye eat.  10 And all that have not fins and scales in the seas, and in the rivers, of all that move in the waters, and of any living thing which is in the waters, they shall be an abomination unto you:  11 They shall be even an abomination unto you; ye shall not eat of their flesh, but ye shall have their carcases in abomination.  12 Whatsoever hath no fins nor scales in the waters, that shall be an abomination unto you.

Oh, if I shut off the camera for a second, that’s because I’ll have to gun down anybody with tattoos:

Leviticus 19:28 - Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the Lord.

In fact, even if the Westboro folks show up, I’m going to check what they order and look really close for tattoos.  You never can tell where sin can be lurking.

(My little Westboro story: Years ago, they came to town to protest something. I was having a very nice time interacting with them until one of my police officer friends came up to me and politely said, “Roger, knock that shit off and leave, or I’m going to arrest your ass.” Party pooper.)

The other principal argument we hear is that by opening the door, “gayness” is going to run wild. Suddenly, were all going to be doing the Wild Thing with someone of the same gender and we’ll be  licensing polygamy, polyandry, and polygons for all I know, and it will threaten marriages.

The whole poly-doodah thing is a reductio ad absurdum.  If you take any idea far enough, it will sound stupid.  If 18 year olds should vote, so should 17 year olds; and 16 year olds; and 15 year olds; ...

I have to tell you that I really don’t feel threatened. If we do the right thing, change a few words in a statute and say, “okay, you’re cool, get married, now let’s move on,” I’m still going to be staying with Eve and not moving on to Steve. Nor even Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice.

Do the people making all the noise believe that we are really that weak minded?  Look, we elected you nitwits to jobs, we didn't crown you Mommy and Daddy.

Oh, wait a minute, I thought of another argument I’ve heard. Most people don’t support the idea.

Hmmmmm.  That’s a toughie.  Most people don’t support the idea.  Darn, am I dead in my tracks? 

Oh, wait, yeah, pretty much everybody says they admire constitutional government and they revere the Constitution.

(By the way, some of them are lying.)

Let’s ban tobacco. It has no useful purpose. It is demonstrably lethal.

No can do – these darn inconvenient constitutional principles. But wait!  Fewer than 50% of the public smokes. So we can ban them, right? Nope, constitutional principles.

Some moron sashays around with a brightly colored sign, “God hates the USA.” Ignoring the questionable theology, I consider such an individual to be a turd in the alimentary tract of the body politic.  Okay, let’s ban those treasonous bastards.

Oopsie.  Constitutional principles.

The Constitution permits people to do stuff that other people don’t approve of. It requires us to keep our hands off unless we have a good reason to intervene.

It gives us rights, too. You don’t like gay marriage? Don’t marry a gay person. Problem solved.

Attention, my gay friends: I’m leaving you standing at the altar.  Deal with it.

The practical effect of giving this group equality which is seldom discussed is how much expense will be added to benefits, chiefly in the form of insurance, pensions and Social Security. I have heard estimates such as “minimal,” and “considerable,” and “horrendous,” but I’ve never seen any numbers. A financial argument without numbers represents sloppy thinking. We do know that gay people are quite in the minority. We know that the rights which marriage affords are very important.  That's why straight people like them.  And that’s why I’m comfortable thinking financial considerations are not nearly enough to derail fixing this glitch in the law.

What we seem to be missing is the damage having this idiotic debate is doing to our nation and our political system. Nobody seems to recognize that this is a distraction. Moreover, the distraction is not an accident. If Congress and the executive branch are tied up in knots on this, they are just “too busy” to mess with certain other little things:

  • In America, 13,000,000 million children go hungry every night. In America!
  • In America, we throw away 26,000,000 pounds of food a day. In America! Do the math. 
  • We have military people to avoid all over the globe. Many families of enlisted personnel who are sleeping on sand or on ships in the Indian Ocean qualify for food stamps. In America! 
  • “The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” Blah, blah, blah. The fact is, the previously comparable middle class is moving toward the just-scraping-by class. 
  • Chinese and Saudi banks own a great slice of our national debt. If they call the loans, we are so screwed. How do you like having the cadres and the sheiks holding on to you by the short & curlies? 
  • Organized crime has already taken over most penitentiaries. Organized crime is steadily taking over city after city, town or town.  The drug dealers have so much money now, they no longer count it: they WEIGH it. 
  • We have been stuffing 1 trillion here and 1 trillion there down the toilet, the interest bills are rising and the rate of interest increase is nearing the point that it will be non-sustainable.

So to my friends, I suggest we all calm down, think this through and require our so-called public “servants” to pass the gay marriage stuff, quit running their mouths and start doing stuff that matters.

This whole thing really pisses me off.



1 comment:

Jim N said...

Pisses me off too, Roger. One regret I have as an ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church is that I am prohibited by church law from participating in the solemnizing of same-sex marriages. Because of the right- wing forces in the church, along with the very conservative (but fast growing) UM churches overseas, there is very little chance that our denomination will change the ban on gay marriage anytime soon. Personally, I admire pastors of other denominations who are free to bless love wherever they can find it.

Moreover, self-professed homosexuals living in a committed relationship are banned from serving as pastors. Our gay musicians may play our organs (pun intended), but gay pastors shall not touch our pulpits. Unless, of course, they are chaste or married to a member of the opposite sex. Wanna take wagers on how many closeted gay pastors there are mounting and pounding away on our pulpits? (Another intended pun)

The argument about biblical prohibitions is not clear-cut. Some of the Old Testament injunctions are not necessarily about homosexuality as much as they are about such things as promiscuity and a failure to treat people with human decency. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah, often interpreted as God's vengeance on homosexuality, may be better understood as a consequence for the failure to treat strangers in hospitable and respectful ways, a cardinal rule in Hebrew culture: "Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt." (Exodus 23:9 KJV)

The Bible has much more to say about divorces in the heterosexual community than it does about homosexuality. Jesus, in fact, is particularly censorious about men who divorce their wives (women, as property, did not have the right to divorce in those days), leaving women defenseless against the worst abuses imaginable.

What's really fascinating is a clue in St. Matthew's Gospel that Jesus may have recognized homosexuality as a fact of life and seems not a bit bothered by it. "For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven." (Mt. 19:12 NRSV) One way to define "eunuch" is to say that he is unable or unwilling to have sex with a woman. Some, of course, were made that way by others, often the guards who protected the queens, princesses or harems of the rulers and very wealthy. (Surely, protectors would never violate the trust bestowed on them.) Some eunuchs chose their state to better commit themselves to another calling. (Evidence over the years suggests they didn't always succeed.) And some were born that way. Is Jesus recognizing that some men are simply "different," and then says nothing more on the issue? Hmmmm!

Thanks for the clarification of the legal ramifications, a very helpful analysis to include in the maze of what has become a deliberate distraction (as you argue) and a stupendous waste of energy.