Gay Marriage and “Progress”

gay_marriage_81102178In light of the recent Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage, I saw two very clear trends

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

indexUntrue, as I argue later…

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.

0904_boston-busingThe Use of Force

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.

phelps-protest-midtown-full-1I 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.

876010-communist_party_posterYou can force a man to proclaim communism is his true mission, but you cannot force him to believe the words which are spoken.

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.

video-500x281At least I know where she stands.

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.

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21 comments

  1. Sorry Plato

    You have a NO-Win situation for America here. We have gone through it; no country can unite around the two opposite poles of the Globe and remain One Nation.

    IkeJ

    1. Hi Ike,

      My argument is that the only way we unite is through honest discourse. Cultural oppression cannot be eliminated with force, you need peer groups to do so. What about this do you find incorrect?

      Thanks for stopping by

      1. I find nothing incorrect, Plato. You put both sides of honest [and frank] discourse up for discussion and I sincerely and with respect tried to add to it. Mine is just an opinion and that is that the two sides can never meet on this one.

  2. Such intelligent commentary on a wider issue. Love your insight – it’s something that has been glaringly absent from this whole firestorm of a ‘debate’.

  3. I think you miss a fundamental point … there are two aspects to marriage in this country. There is the religious aspect and the civil aspect. The Supreme Court addressed only the civil aspect. It actually didn’t address the cultural or religious aspect. You also manage somehow to only pay attention to the arguments in favor of same sex marriage that make it easy to make your point, while ignoring all of the arguments that would be more difficult to refute. Well done, I guess.

    I find it fascinating that you accuse liberals of wanting to decide what is moral and what is not. Isn’t that what everybody does … including the conservatives who scream at this because of its immorality, even though nobody is forcing them to marry somebody of the same sex?

    1. Hi there king midget, in my last few paragraphs I believe I address your point on the difference between legal and cultural oppression. The Supreme Court attempted to address both the legal and cultural aspect all at once. My argument is that the Supreme Court could rather have picked a different case and forced all states to accept the weakest form of state intervention (force the allowance of civil union, dealing with the legal oppression) rather than attempt to rectify Americas cultural repression toward gays.

      I draw the parallel between racism and the south because we were able to fix legal oppression through force, but cannot fix cultural oppression (racism) through those means.

      Of course, you may find it unfair that I am rallying against the liberal in this case, because their moral compass is objective and conservatives suffer the same flaw. I agree, but that doesn’t mean the “right side of history” argument is acceptable. It is still a flawed argument and you can use liberal sensibilities to generate a reasonable counter example as I have done above.

      I appreciate your thoughts and look forward to the other arguments I am supposedly hiding from. Take care

      1. Your suggestion that the Supreme Court could have rectified this by forcing civil unions on all ignores the significance of marriage in our society and human history and by depriving the recognition of two consenting adults to the significance of that relationship, current law was essentially denying equal protection of the law. I don’t disagree with you that the courts cannot fix cultural oppression and regardless of this court’s efforts to think it can, it aint gonna happen. So why bother wasting words on what the majority thought it might be able to do when we know it can’t. Never mind that I don’t think the majority thought for a moment it was wiping away the vestiges of cultural oppression against homosexuals in this country. As for your rallying against liberals because of their “moral compass” or claims to be on the “right side of history” — I think it is simply pointless and borders on hypocrisy to attack one side’s arguments or positions based on a weakness that applies to all sides.

        1. Hi there,
          I do appreciate your comments. It is clear you put thought into your responses so I’ll put some thought into explaining myself fully; in the hopes of shattering the wall of information asymmetry I rally against so often here.

          I will have to disagree here on the first point. Making civil union equal, on legal grounds, to marriage deals with the legal oppression completely. Can you please elaborate why you think this isn’t true? Aside from the fact that this forces a solution which implies that homosexuals need a ‘separate’ institution (making them feel marginalized and unwanted, but I claim that’s cultural oppression, not legal oppression)..

          To the last point, a poor argument is a poor argument. If a conservative uses a moral compass to refute why gay marriage shouldn’t be allowed to happen, I’d attack it on the same vein; given that people actually care enough to read another 1.5k blog post (which I doubt). I think there is a reality here with regard to what people are willing to read and what they aren’t. I could rehash the same arguments above and flip the compass against religious conservatives (the “god hates fags” photo above is a homage to that reality); but I find that argument to be so easy to make that it’s exceptionally boring and completely unoriginal.

          Who wants to read that argument when there are thousands of blogs making the exact same points?

          I’m not under any false presumption that I’m a journalist and follow some gold standard of ethics; or that I’m fair, or that I’m even an authority. I blog for an audience as well as for my own edification. But more importantly, if there is one point I want to make through this entire blogging experience (to those who read my ramblings) is that we are all unreliable narrators; even the person writing these posts is broken. My opinion, experience, and ‘facts’ which are presented here are all warped in my own internal ideology; I want to expose that for what it is, not cower behind it as if it doesn’t exist and I can ‘rise’ against it.

          And the first couple paragraphs in this post I think illustrate this. I openly admit that I consider myself a liberal, and I embrace all the contradictions which my internal ideology generates. But the arguments are what they are, if I say group A’s argument is incorrect because of X, and you say that means group B is also wrong because of X; that doesn’t mean A is correct, that simply means you believe everyone is wrong. Is this a pointless exercise? I don’t think so. If we want to discover political truth (if that’s even possible) then it must be done piece by piece. If both sides turn out to be wrong in the process, so be it. If only one side is wrong, great; that doesn’t mean the other side is correct (and vice/versa). We do not live in a black/white world.

          To a careful reader you can probably find some contradictions in my arguments between the posts I generate here, as I slip into another’s shoes pretty often when writing these opinion pieces.

          Anyway, thanks for stopping by. Feel free to continue to disagree, as my feelings do not get hurt by such things.

          1. I’ll come back later for more, but the conversations where there is respectful disagreement are far more interesting than those where there is comprehensive agreement. I’ll be back.

          2. I may just do this piece by piece given my time constraints, but …”Making civil union equal, on legal grounds, to marriage deals with the legal oppression completely.” No, actually, it doesn’t. There was this whole concept in the civil rights battle called separate, but equal. You know, like, if the blacks can’t drink out of the “whites” water fountain, but can drink out of their own — the one that’s around the corner — then it should all be OK. That they might be educated in schools that are “separate, but equal” then it’s all OK. Surely, you know that the Supreme Court, decades ago, ruled that the concept of separate, but equal is unconstitutional. Saying that gays should accept civil unions as equal to marriage is essentially saying that they should accept a concept that is separate, but equal. The Court has said this is unconstitutional.

            I will concede to you on another point … I shudder as well when people crow about being on the right side of history. There was a time when the Crusades was the right side of history. There was a time when all sorts of horrible things were viewed as being on the right side of history. I think that kind of reaction to these kinds of things simply ignores that frequently history is filled with horror.

            1. Unfortunately this is quite long.

              The constitutional argument you bring up, I think, is reasonable and has a lot of defenders in legal literature. Of course my stance is that marriage shouldn’t exist as a State enforced contract, but since we already have marriage then we’re stuck trying to fix our existing system; so my personal woes on legislating culture are pointless here. But there are a few things I can say.

              1. The supreme court is not an institution which is irrefutable. It is a political institution based on our case law system. They over turn and uphold prior supreme court decisions with some regularity. These decisions are not based on some objective ‘truth’, but their subjective interpretation of what the constitution should mean; this changes over time. Some of those upheld decisions are progressive, some of those overturned are not. The point here that it is feasible in my eyes that society (but certainly not the supreme court, I cannot argue for what they can/will accept) could accept arguments of instituting these separate but equal institution, on the basis of point #2, the benefits of the word marriage aren’t physical.

              2. The oppression suffered by homosexuals, while perverse and terrible, is not the same as those suffered by blacks in the south. So while the parallel can be drawn between a racial separate but equal of extreme magnitude (schools, bathrooms, buses, etc.), I think that loses sight of what we’re actually talking about. A separate but equal word which has no physical implications (you don’t get a sub-par version of social security benefits because you are under a civil union) other than what people say about it. Separate but equal meant physical oppression toward blacks in the south, a separate but equal marriage decision would mean we force states to at least offer civil unions, and the federal government accepts civil unions as legally equal to marriage. There is no physical oppression to this separation of a cultural institution, only the cultural oppression which stems from having two institutions.

              If the defense here is that the supreme court had to side with the version of making civil union irrelevant and forcing marriage to involve two consenting adults; due to the separate but equal doctrine and that my proposed ‘solution’ was impossible, then I’m not fit to rally against the legal argument which it entails. Not that I care much for the legal ‘truth’ as espoused by the supreme court, as laws are just reflections of our culture and their interpretation and application changes over time. But you may take this point home and place it in your piggy bank because I cannot argue against the constitutional, legal argument as I am not trained in such things and would probably lose anyway.

              If the defense is actually to use the supreme court’s justification for eradicating ‘separate but equal’ to say that therefore we should not have it in our society (irrelevant of the supreme court’s subjective views on the constitution) then yes, I’ll argue against this version because of points 1 and 2 above. In addition you should recall that the law we’re referring to (Civil Rights Act of 1964) dealt with separate but equal as it entailed to physical entities, such as schooling and transportation, voter registration, etc. As a loose example, we have citizenship person hood, and a form of ‘person hood’ afforded to corporations. In certain respects a corporation can be treated as a citizen for the enforcement of contracts, we have two entities which are legally different at its core (aka civil union vs marriage) but treated legally similar on the other end (for enforcement of contracts, or, in marriage/civil union, to collect social security benefits).

              1. Quick answer, more later … I completely agree that the best way out of this morass is that government gets out of the marriage business, but as long as it remains in the marriage business, the recent decision makes the most sense based on the court’s precedent and my personal view of what’s right. 😉

  4. Overall I am happy with the Supreme Courts decision. However, I do not want private institutions such as churches to be forced into marrying off such couples if they do not see fit but rather left alone as extortion, like censorship of views we find contrary to ours, is never the answer but, as I always say, education is. If their minds still aren’t changed, then there’s nothing that can be done but to leave them be so long as they keep to themselves & are not actively seeking violence against gays while educating people who are willing to listen to our side who happen to genuinely believe the things the homophobe spouts but also genuinely wish to see the error of their ways by coming to us.

  5. I definitely don’t want to silence the people who disagree with me on gay marriage or to force churches to perform wedding ceremonies. I’m not arrogant enough to think I’m on the right side of history. That being said, I don’t want to be told who I can or cannot marry in the name of a social conservative’s “liberty” to tell me no.

    1. Eurobrat echoes my exact total view and sentiments on the subject; it’s a non-issue that has already taken too much time and received more publicity in the Media than it deserves. Let the people on both sides be what they want to be; it is not for me to decide for others and they must allow me to live my life the way I deem appropriate.

      IkeJ

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