Saturday, January 21, 2006
Out of the closet
I am a social libertarian on certain issues. I believe in: Gay marriage rights Abortion rights Abolition of the "War on Drugs" Right to die Legalizing prostitution Oh, I have caveats on some of the issues. For instance, if prostitution is legalized, require prostitutes to get health certification and regular inspections; if drugs are legalized, regulate them by the USDA and the FDA--the same way as any other crop or manufactured product--to meet quality regulations, plus a certain portion of the tax dollars raised by drug sales should go to education/remediation programs. Practical matters, where the social effects of the given activity by individuals are likely to impact other people. (So, I'm not a candidate for the Libertarian Party--my "regulate 'em and tax 'em" approach is anethema to those folks.) But the gay marriage fight is a stumper for me. Granting gays the right to legal marriage is somehow seen as the deathknell of our society. Supposedly, if gays can wed, it will somehow undermine marriage as a social construct. No matter how hard I try, I can't wrap my head around that one. Hands are waved at the "slippery slope", claiming that the same arguments that bolster gay marriage will be used to support three-way marriages, incest, and bestiality. (I'll show you how much of an off-the-wall person I am: I don't give a damn how many people want to enter a legal and familial union, so long as they are consenting adults, not under duress, and there are agreements signed as to how property questions and child custody/visitation rights will be handled if there is a split. I don't care if cousins or siblings want to marry, so long as they are consenting adults, not under duress, who get genetic testing to ensure no problematic genetic issues are handed down. And the bestiality argument is simply ludicrous...show me a dog, horse, or dolphin that can be considered a "consenting adult". Please. [Okay, the dolphin one is on the edge, if you listen to certain researchers.]) Hands are waved at "raising children in a two-parent family". I will point you at widows and widowers raising children, single relatives raising children, step-children, and the "it takes a village" concept, which has been around a helluva lot longer than the ideal man-woman-two-children visualization. It has actually been argued by people in court cases that the one-man, one-woman concept of marriage is there to ensure that children can be produced (this was in Arizona, in response to a court case where the plaintiffs were requesting the right to marry). Oh, yeah. Mr. OmegaMom and I should therefore not be allowed to be married, since we cannot produce children. Or what about elders who remarry after the death of their spouses? If the woman is past menopause, should she be legally required to never marry again? Should women who have hysterectomies then be forced to divorce their spouses? What about men who get vasectomies? Hands are also waved at the idea that gays are just promiscuous and sexually-obsessed, and that allowing gays to marry will, somehow, some way, encourage promiscuous sex. 'Scuse me? Someone wants to marry a long-time partner and have a monogamous relationship, and this is promoting promiscuity? I boggle. Gay marriage will, of course, lure others into becoming homosexuals. Say what?! Hot damn, you mean since Joe and Jim three doors down can get married, I'll just up and ditch Mr. OmegaMom to get me some h*t l*sbian s*x??? (For the unitiated, those asterisks are there to keep real weirdos and pervs from getting a hit on my blog by searching on "h*t l*sbian s*x".) And, heck, I'd even get a wife into the bargain, and maybe she'd be a better housekeeper than I am, dayum, this is a big plus. Then, of course, there's the old standby, that it's immoral, unnatural, and God doesn't want it, it says so in the Bible. There are two different marriages being discussed here. There's the "sacred" marriage, sanctified by the church (whatever church you belong to). Then there's the "legal" marriage, sanctioned by the state, which grants the entrants into the legal contract certain legal rights: the right, say, to visit your partner in the hospital without having members of your partner's family block you at the door; the right, say, to have medical power of attorney for your partner, so that your partner isn't hooked up to life support machines a la Terry Schiavo ad infinitum, ad miserium; the right to inheritance when your partner dies; the right to custody when your partner dies; the ability to file for income taxes as a couple, rather than as singles; etc., etc., etc. I am not an eloquent speaker on this subject. I don't have the quotes at my fingertips one way or the other. Others have written this argument much better than I can. But this is one issue that OmegaMom is pretty militant on. A year and a half ago, the Virginia legislature voted in one of the most restrictive laws in the nation. In part, it reads: "A civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage is prohibited. Any such civil union, partnership contract or other arrangement entered into by persons of the same sex in another state or jurisdiction shall be void in all respects in Virginia and any contractual rights created thereby shall be void and unenforceable." In the stroke of a pen, people who had lived in Virginia for decades, quietly leading their lives with their partners and carefully and painstakingly using expensive legal assistance to ensure that those legal rights I mention above were specifically written out in contracts and agreements, had those contracts and agreements nullified and their lives turned into a legal minefield. A long-time online friend of mine and her partner promptly, and tearfully, decided they had to leave Virginia, the home they loved. They had friends there. They had lives there. Their daughter had grown up there. They had made their house a home, put down roots, become happy and content just leading their lives. But they felt it was necessary--for the safety of their child--to uproot themselves and move to another state. This sort of thing just makes me sick and makes my heart ache. If you are interested in supporting the fight against legislatures that would do the same as the state of Virginia, by all means check out The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Human Rights Campaign, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, and any of your local state outfits.