Equality To Change Society? – Left Side
Gay Marriage Is A Matter Of Basic Human And Civil Rights
I can see merit in both sides of the debate on most social and political issues. Not so when it comes to gay marriage. To my mind, there is absolutely no justification for banning it.
That should become clear to any reasonable person who takes a long hard look at the arguments against gay marriage. They simply don’t hold up.
Consider the most common argument, for example: Gay unions are a violation of divine law. Well, according to what source? The Bible? Sure, there are a few references in scripture to the “abomination” of men lying with men. Indeed, Leviticus 20:13 states, “If a man … lies with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death.” In light of this, it would appear that existing laws against gay marriage are wholly inadequate since they don’t actually call for the execution of gay people. I mean come on—if we’re going to follow the Bible, shouldn’t we follow it to the letter?
While we’re at it, of course, we also have to pass laws calling for the death penalty for adulterers. Opponents of gay marriage would have nothing to worry about in that case, of course, since I’m sure not a single one of them has ever cheated on his wife. We all know that liberals are the only ones who do that. Still, there are other problems, such as harsh penalties for people who violate the Sabbath. Or eat bacon, for that matter. But I doubt most opponents of gay marriage are prepared to pass laws closing malls on Sunday or regulating the menu at IHOP.
It’s clear, in short, that opponents of gay marriage are guilty of selective reading of scripture. But let’s say they were to abandon these hypocrisies. Does that square things?
Well, not really, since there’s a little problem called the Constitution, which never mentions God at all. The Founding Fathers had good reason for leaving Him, Her or It out of the equation. They knew that religious freedom was utterly dependent upon the separation of church and state. Somehow, many of the most devoutly religious people in our country today have lost sight of that.
There are, of course, opponents of gay marriage who cast their arguments in more secular terms. The traditional family unit—husband, wife and children—is the very glue that holds society together, they argue. Legalizing gay marriage would threaten that institution.
But unless you have your head in the sand, it should be fairly evident that heterosexuals have done a pretty good job of undermining the institutions of marriage and family all by themselves; they don’t need assistance from their gay brethren. Domestic violence against women; child abuse; high divorce rates—all are problems largely associated with self-righteous and hypocritical heterosexuals.
Ah, but wouldn’t legalization of gay marriage create a slippery slope? What would be next? Legalizing unions between humans and goats?
Yes, some opponents of gay marriage actually make that argument. Thing is, I don’t know about you, but I’ve not run across many people who are clamoring for that particular right. And it seems highly unlikely that if legal marriage between gays were to become the law of the land that hordes of goat lovers would come out of the woodwork demanding their rights as well.
At any rate, that argument is highly offensive because it utterly dehumanizes gay people. It suggests that if a man falls in love with another man, or a woman with another woman, they are really no different from people who engage in bestiality.
This is a matter of basic human and civil rights—a recognition of the human dignity of all people and their right to love whomever they choose, without interference from the state, and to enjoy equal protection under the law.
As things stand now, in Virginia and other backward states, laws against marriage essentially seek to establish a category of second-class citizenship. That, it seems to me, is a clear violation of the 14th Amendment.
As I said at the outset, I’m a moderate on most left-right issues. I can see merit in the argument that banning guns makes law-abiding citizens more vulnerable to criminals; I can see merit in the argument that abortion is murder because fetuses of a certain age have beating hearts and feel pain. Gay marriages, by contrast, harm no one!
In my experience with college students, today’s younger generations recognize this overwhelmingly. Even my students who are staunchly conservative in most respects tend not to have a problem with gay marriage. This suggests to me that it’s only a matter of time before gay marriages are legal across the land. Opponents might as well give up now because they’re fighting a losing battle—never mind a battle that is both immoral and unconstitutional.
Tom Robotham is an award-winning writer and an adjunct professor of American studies at Old Dominion University. He was born and raised in New York City but has lived in Norfolk for the past 20 years. He can be reached at email@example.com or at the Taphouse Grill in Ghent.