- Group A claims “it’s about time,” that this issue has been a long time coming and those who are opposed to legalized gay marriage are on “the wrong side of history.” This is a human rights issue, the next step is the acceptance of a spectrum of human sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Group B claims it is a betrayal of their laws, a slap in the face to their culture, and an abomination that the highest court of the land should begin legislating cultural issues.
Of course, being in the hotbed of the American liberal (any densely populated urban center…) leads me to want to believe in #1s argument. Oh how my metaphorical heart aches for the oppressed amongst us, for my sexually liberal ethical compass is not offended by sodomites, and I have no peer group from organized faith to demand that I reject this.
Sitting on my porch one day discussing this issue with a friend I was near the tipping point of being swayed. So logical and so clear was this argument that I could not refute it, it seemed inevitable; sexual orientation is irrelevant, the Supreme Court had to intervene, as in the case of racism. We exist in a society with systematic oppression toward the homosexual and it is morally wrong. We have waited too long to fix this through the culture wars, as a nation we are prepared for the pill to be jammed down our less… ‘evolved’ countrymen’s throats. We are ready for this change.
The persuasion was so intense that I almost caved into their reasonable demands; until I saw the argument for what it truly is, purely ideological. That isn’t say the arguments are wrong, but they catered to my own ideological views rather than a more objective truth.
The Arguments for Gay Marriage
“We are on the right side of history”
Any time someone utters this phrase, you know you are in for a wild ride on the “I’m better than you” express. Everyone thinks they are on the right side of history, that’s a vacuously true statement. Everyone thinks their own ideological worldview is going to crush the opposing one, liberalism is not immune.
More than that, this argument is obnoxious because it assumes the answer to this legitimately vexing question is already pre-ordained. So I ask, how do we determine who is on the ‘right side’ of history? Well no surprises are had as to the answer here, the liberal does. That is, the person who already believes their opinion is right gets to determine which policies and results are on the ‘correct’ side of history. How convenient.
In the past I have written about pet ownership and its moral difficulties. I think it is a reasonable parallel to say that those who are pro-pet ownership are immoral and supporting a form of wholly unnecessary animal oppression. In proposing this particular argument to our liberal friends who disagree with me, and think I am on the ‘wrong side of history’ on this matter; I find that THIS specific instance of ‘grander morals’ and ‘equality of living creatures’ is beyond the scope of their lack of foresight on ‘history’. This pokes a hole in their supposedly superior moral world view.
The crux is that the liberal decides what’s morally acceptable and what isn’t; animal ethics issues are a great counter example to a self-obsessed liberal who cannot ‘see the error of his ways’ without your superior moral guidance. It’ll make for an obnoxious, grinding argument, but I think you’ll win. Eventually the liberal will agree that he/she cannot determine what is morally ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ due to this counter example.
The core of the issue here is this, I think it is almost universally accepted that legally speaking, a legal union between two consenting adults should be allowed. That isn’t the cultural institution of marriage, but if the state wants to interfere in marriage then it must extend those legal rights equally to other institutions serving the same function. I think only the most hardened of zealot will reject this axiom.
Now, the liberal wants to move further from this weakest form of union and say they support the Supreme Court in changing the cultural institution of legal marriage to be combined with homosexual union. The reasoning being that, homosexuals are an oppressed segment of our nation (I find this to also be axiomatic) and we must use the force of law to ‘bring’ the rest of the country back to par with halting this oppression. The parallel is drawn with racism and the segregated south. We needed the state to put a gun to the heads of our southerners to force them to accept desegregation and stop the oppression of blacks.
I find this the most difficult question of all to answer; which is a direct result of our Supreme Court decision. Assuming we accept that the oppression of homosexuals exist (which we do), is it acceptable to use State force to attempt to ‘cure’ it?
Culture is not Manufactured
Cultural issues should not be legislated as that form of oppression is of the most dangerous kind, it yields anti-conformity (sub cultures). It would be much better to force all the states to have a civil union, and let individual states or communities merge the phrase of civil union with marriage.
A homogeneous culture does not exist because we have someone with a gun making you go through the motions of being ‘an American.’ You do it through the unspoken language of your political world, what feels right but is unexplainable, your near unalterable ideological views. The ideological conversion we all go through is a slow and grinding process, but above all, it is a willing and open one.
Since we exist in a world where marriage is legalized you may ask, is this not an acceptable alternative? My answer is no. In the short term we will get some truthful dialogue, but it will be short lived. The full force of the State is behind the argument of accepting gay marriage, therefore, opposition will be silenced. Take what you may consider to be the best case, we will continue to have homophobes who convert their children to the toxic hatred of their creed, but they will never publicly announce it. Leading us all into a false sense of security as to who believes what.
Silent oppression is more dangerous than outward oppression. Silent oppression is nearly impossible to root out, open oppression is visible for all to see. Social ridicule, humiliation, and peer oppression are more efficient means of forcing cultural homogeneity.
You may say, “So what, their weddings can be as strict and ceremonial as they want, other people’s rituals do not affect their own.” And this is the most glaring oversight. Cultural rituals have meaning only because other people endure the same ones. It’s not just that they exist, it’s that these cultural rituals share commonality. Racist, sexist, classist commonality; it is all the same.
Culture is the evil that creates our divisions and our hatreds. They are the idiosyncrasies that we all internalize and covet; which inevitably warp our ideological compass until the day we die. We cannot eliminate cultural differences through force, it is done by rupturing the very fabric of another reality; how they procure food, water, shelter, and community.
Attempting to manipulate the ritual with force is akin to “killing” water by shooting it with a gun. Sure, you’ll move some water around temporarily; but it’ll come back. It molds around the object that it comes into contact with, eventually it comes back to its initial state; as if unaltered.
Racist oppression in the south was a mixture of legal and cultural oppression. You can remove legal oppression with force, you cannot eliminate cultural oppression with force. We have just as many racists today as we did 50 years ago; they are simply quieter now.
So please, lift the shroud of silence and let your countrymen speak. We have nothing to lose by silencing opponents and everything to gain by hearing their ‘backwards’ voice. And if you are correct, that they are on the ‘wrong side’ of history; then let their words prove it.
We gain nothing by living in an echo chamber.