Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Same Sex = Different Treatment.

I am getting frustrated by the debate over same-sex marriages. My office-mate today was explaining to me that same-sex couples should not be allowed to get married because marriage is a religious ceremony, and therefore those that do not follow the religion should not be allowed to be wed. To him it was so cut and dry, so black and white. It was explained plain and simple that 'marriage' must be maintained with a traditional religious definition. I asked him why people who are not religious are then still allowed to get married and he said "...it's complicated". I was confused. On one hand the issue is simple but on the other hand it is complicated, and it all depends on what group of people you are talking about. I personally think that the issue isn't worth complicating with whatever rationalizations make it alright to discriminate. Any opposition to same-sex marriage in the defense of a religious definition is pointless because what is supposedly being fought for has already been lost.

The case against same-sex marriages, as regurgitated by my office-mate, is one that I have heard often. People want to maintain a religious definition. This argument is not believable because the definition has already changed without any outcry.
Marriage is no longer governed by the church, it is governed by laws. In fact, marriage is recognized legally without requiring that religion of any kind be involved in any way. Even if the roots of marriage are based in religion*, it cannot be denied that marriage has become, first and foremost, a societal institution with religion as just a footnote in it's history.

Some who oppose same-sex marriages believe it is OK to allow a "Civil Union". Interestingly, this is exactly what marriage has become anyway. The religious aspects to marriage may be important to some people, but these days that doesn't count. After all, it seems to me that every person who has divorced a spouse has already broken an oath to god. If the church was still in charge then why is divorce allowed? Marriage has changed so much that the only thing that universally matters to society are the legalities.

However it may have originated, marriage is currently practiced by the nonreligious and religious alike.
It spans religions, cultures, and societies. Marriage is a worldwide tradition and for any one group of people to claim it is unrealistic. It would make more sense for religious groups to assign the definition they want to preserve to a different term such as 'Christian Union', or 'Catholic Union'. This way marriage can stay a legal institution, and all the religions can set their own definitions. Once religion is separated from marriage, then any push for discrimination** will go with it.

To my religious friends,
I mean you no disrespect, and I mean you no criticism, and I in no way believe you to be discriminatory. I just feel that the argument I most often hear against same-sex marriage is completely

* I believe that the roots of marriage belong in our biology. Many species of animals are at least somewhat monogamous by nature, and given that humans are simply another form of animal life it isn't hard to believe that humans are the same way... somewhat monogamous by nature.

** Banning same-sex marriage is discrimination. If people wanted to ban interracial marriages we would clearly see this as discrimination, yet such a marriage used to be considered immoral and unnatural. We know this to be wrong now, but at the time it was considered gospel. In fact it has been less than 40 years since a Virginia judge upheld an interracial marriage ban stating god's intention to separate the races. Luckily the decision was overturned by the supreme court, who had these wise words to say:

Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discriminations. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loving_v._Virginia )


Sarah J M said...

Also from the wikipedia article:

"[In] 2000... Alabama became the last state to remove its law against mixed-race marriage."

I can't even believe that.

Anonymous said...

I had just typed som things about transgender memorial day and you being the most beautiful trans I almost know when blogger burped and all my typing went poof.

WRT marriage I think there are both legal and religious institutions and t may well be time to sever the two and stop religeous personalities from performing legally biding acts.... it may end the confusion.

warm hugs


Anonymous said...

Thank you for putting this on your blog. For me, I feel as though I’m perceived as being different from society. Therefore I’m always trying to find validation from people so I don’t feel so different. The marriage amendment makes me feel like I’m not even part of society and discriminated just because I am different. Whatever happened to Celebrate Diversity?

Ariia said...

Marriage is such an overblown issue these days. I too think that religion and legalities should be seperate in this issue. Marriage isn't about religion. It is about commiting to one person and loving that person completely through whatever life throws at you.

It shouldn't matter what sex you are and what sex you want to marry. Religious fanatics that criticise same sex marriages make me shake my head. Who are they hurting? NO ONE! so why is it an issue.

IMHO There are WAY more important issues out there they should focus on instead of bothering people over something that really is none of their business in the first place.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you too Sarah. Even being by society's standards, acceptable in my sexual orientation, I fele that the religious factors to marriage are in no way a contributing factor.
I would be just as happy staying 'unmarried' and with the man I love, as I would marrying him in the eyes of the law. In either instance, religion would play no factor for me.
I think that with the government accepting common-law marriage as legal (which is just as sinful in Christianity) they were setting the standards for all. I do not beleive that it will be much longer before same-sex marriage is viewed in the same light by the majority of society, therefore forcing it to become legal everywhere. And hey, if it does not happen soon; say screw this, and move where it is. You deserve the right to love who you want and to benefit in the same ways from that love.

Anonymous said...

Oooo! I gotta comment on this one! :)

I am a religious person, so my point of views are biased by that religion. I am not as hard-line as some, but am more so than a lot of people. Here goes.

1) The Bible is negative on homosexuality, whether male or female. Says it is a sin. For this reason, if you are a homosexual person, most churches will not allow you to be a voting member. You can attend as much as you like, but cannot be in a position to make policy, as your lifestyle is not in keeping with a good, Christian lifestyle. The same, incidentally, applies to any person in the Church that is living a blatantly non-Christian lifestyle, not just homosexuals.

2) This being the case, it is contrary to my religious beliefs to support a homosexual lifestyle; support the people, yes, the lifestyle, no.

3) If two homosexual people, male or female, wish to get married, my church will not perform the ceremony.

For me, the issue is not the union of the couples. I have the legal right to go out and buy porn if I desire, or to do many other things the Church considers immoral. Anyone who chooses has the legal right to be a homosexual. I think that homosexual couples should be allowed the same spousal tax breaks, etc, as heterosexual couples. This implies a marriage relationship, be it a civil union or not. However, the idea I would protest against is that a homosexual couple has the right to get married in my church. If that were the case, then the homosexual couples right to sexual expression would be trampling on my freedom of religion.

Same sex marriage? I am not thrilled with the idea, but I think it is just. But don't force Churches to perform the ceremonies if they do not want to.

Sarah J M said...

If most churches don't want to do it, then that should be ok because I think there is enough variation around for most people to find a church that suits their needs, and I have no doubt that there must be some who would happily marry a same-sex couple.

Making it illegal for a same-sex couple to get married saves the churches who don't want to perform the ceremony, but prevents those who don't object from performing it as well.

Sarah J M said...

I just wanted to add a comment here about something that was said in previous comments.

Shayne said "But don't force Churches to perform the ceremonies if they do not want to. "

and I said "If most churches don't want to do it, then that should be ok because I think there is enough variation around for most people to find a church that suits their needs."

Well recently in my city we've had the case of an Anglican minister who was defrocked by his bishop because he said he intended to perform a same-sex marriage. It made me realize that there is no such thing as a church that is completely unified in it's views on same-sex marriages. There is always going to be that standard deviation curve of people where the outer sides disagree with the inner lump.