Sunday, December 07, 2008

Gay Marriage

Ever go to a wedding and watch the couple during the marriage ceremony? I have noticed three things have occurred at every one I have attended: 1) the couple is trying not to laugh at some point; 2) the couple at some point is extremely serious; and 3) there is no doubt that they believe every word that is being spoken about the sanctity of marriage.

One out of every two marriages ends in divorce. Most of them will fail because of infidelity. More than half of those that get divorced, will marry again. And not for one second, will any of them call into question the sanctity of marriage in general. The ideal of marriage, like the ideals of the United States may not be fully realized in any one, or couple, but the ideal is more important to all of us, than the failings of a few, or even a lot of us.

So, I understand the difficulty that the vast majority of people, good, honest, loving people that support their gay family members, friends and neighbors, have with the idea of gay marriage. Somehow, someway, the idea of a marriage between anyone but a man and a woman says that this ideal, this state we all hope and aspire to, is no longer worthy, or is no longer available.

Conservatives that look at other conservatives and ask, how can you be for individual liberty yet oppose a basic right to marry someone of your choosing, fail to understand but let me offer a comparison:

You know, the right to bear arms, it was a dream that nowadays you just can't have. Too many people are irresponsible or downright stupid when it comes to guns, and we just need to be realistic - end the right to bear arms.

No? don't like that? Well, that is how people feel about gay marriage. Those that oppose gay marriage don't want to treat gays badly, they even generally agree to most all 'rights' associated with marriage being available to gay couples....but marriage? The ideal is more than they can bear to lose. Even with all the bad outcomes, even when most people consider marriage to be just this side of a jail sentence, the IDEAL is more important than any couples 'rights'.

Let me go off on a little tangent: gay adoption. I keep hearing over and over again, the ideal situation; the ideal marriage; the ideal couple; the ideal parents. I hear people tell me that as long as one straight couple is looking to adopt, gay couples should not be allowed to. The ideal is that every child looking to be adopted would have a line of straight couples waiting to adopt them. There are no such lines. Thousands of children are awaiting adoption and to eliminate gay couples or even single gays that want to adopt from the pool of families is to sentence children to the foster system. The ideal world does not exist for those children and to deny them hope, is to kill the ideal people are trying to 'save'. The ideal has already failed. It can not be retrieved in this arena.

But marriage is different. Every new marriage is another attempt at the ideal. Another chance to reach for, and hopefully attain, the joining of two into one. There is a chance, a hope. So, as long as there is a chance, denying the ideal, or changing it is just beyond the ability of people to consider. Rational, logical, classical liberal positions are all useless discussions because they all require the loss of the ideal. If you are nodding your head, you are wrong. But my saying so, will not change you. Gay marriage does not deny the ideal, it does not eliminate the ideal. Every couple that stands before friends, family and God can still giggle, cry and solemnly believe in the sanctity and the ideal of marriage whether a gay couple does the same thing or not down the street.

But, the ideal can't stand the change, can't stand the variation. It is all or nothing for most people, and that is too bad. I have argued that any institution that can not stand on it's own value, on it's own merits, does not deserve to survive. Society has tested it, and found it no longer valuable enough to support.

So, what is the right way to handle gay marriage? I have argued that civil unions accomplish what most gay people are looking for. Yes, there are many gays that want marriage and their reasons are VALID and not unreasonable. But they are anti-ideal and so will be opposed 'irrationally'.

Here is the problem: every single time any state creates a civil union path and a marriage path, a court will find that separate but equal is unConstitutional, and rightfully so. Get people to think about it for a while, and they will agree, but point out the 'ideal'. So, even if the people of a state WANT to give gays civil unions, it will only be a short period of time before someone gets it into a court and the 'judicial activists' will find 'a new right'. It is a stupid argument because a judge can not find a new right, only recognize one that already exists.

If we can not have civil unions and marriage running side by side and we can't have 'marriage' for all couples, how do we recognize gay couples in such a way as to get the government to treat the couples equally?


But, I do know where the answer has to come from: those that hold the ideal of marriage in their minds and hearts. The choice is yours. If you don't come up with an answer, the radical ones, having tasted a little liberty, will continue to agitate for more....and both sides will lose more than I think either understands.