Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Gay Marriage, The Issue That Won't Go Away

Well, you'll have to take may word for it, since the original New Common Sense has been deleted....

Way back in 2005, one of my very first posts was about gay marriage. In that article I pointed out that what we call marriage has two parts. The first is the contractual part. The second is the ceremonial, spiritual, whatever part. I then went on to point out that the state had an interest in regulating the contractual, but had no business in interfering in the ceremonial, spiritual half of things.

Well, it's happened. After all this time, someone, a lawyer by the name of Douglas W. Kmiec, has suggested in an Op Ed piece in the Los Angeles Times, that the best way to deal with the whole gay marriage issue is to strip the word marriage from law, which is exactly what I urged four years ago.

Talk about validation. I chose the title, The New Common Sense for reasons other than an admiration for Thomas Paine. I've long felt that the application of a little reason can go a long way towards resolving problems. The whole gay marriage battle is, at least in California, a war over a single word. California law basically gives gay couples every right and responsibility of marriage. Gays just aren't allowed to use the word. If the religious right is so concerned about gays having a legal document with the word marriage on it, then they can end the debate by severing the word marriage from law.

Talk about stupid. The religious right has spent millions of dollars, and expended thousands of man hours, over a word. It's time to give them their way. Make everything a civil union, and let each couple work out for themselves how they want to present themselves to the world. If two men, or two women, want to walk down the aisle, and say I do in front of their friends, more power to them. No Catholic, no Mormon, no Southern Baptist has to attend a gay wedding.

If it were only that easy. It's not my business if the religious right thinks gays are going to hell. As an atheist, I think it's all primitive superstition anyway. Here's the thing. Had I been asked my opinion of gay rights ten years ago, as a liberal, I would have voiced support. But the fact is, as an issue, gay rights, would have been pretty far down on my list of concerns. But, in the last decade I've seen one attempt after another to make the hatred of homosexuals the law of the land. The whole gay marriage issue is no longer about equality. It's about an attempt by the religious right to make their prejudices the law of the land, and because of that I now think of gay rights as one of the most important civil rights issues of our time. I have to wonder how many people like me are out there.

Prop. 8 is moving from the California State Supreme Court to the federal Court system. California Attorney General Jerry Brown, who normally would be expected to defend the state's constitution, has instead decided that his oath to defend the federal constitution over-rides his responsibility to defend California's constitution. And Governor Action Hero has let it be known that he thinks Prop. 8 may violate the 14th amendment. Will conservative judicial activists rule that states have the right to pass laws that have no other purpose than to impose the religious beliefs and hatreds of one group of voters on the rest of us? I would love it if the passage of Prop. 8 lead to the legalization of gay marriage everywhere. The only way to stop gay marriage may be in stripping the word marriage from law. No legal marriage for anyone, civil unions for all.

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