Call Me Old-Fashioned

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Last week, the Vermont legislature was the first to sanction homosexual marriages, and they did so by a Veto-proof margin.  The three other States in which it is legal was so ordered by the Courts.  You might guess, correctly, that I disagree with that decision. 

Some may immediately leap to condemn my judgmental attitude.  If so, I would say they have already made the first leap to judgment, assuming the superiority of their position without having read my own, and possibly by assuming a moral higher ground from the start.  Am I immediately guilty of being a narrow-minded bigot for opposing what political correctness would suggest is a Vote to be praised? 

Let's begin simply.  My argument does not come from a religious moral framework or from some deep dark place that manifests itself in hatred of people unlike (WASP) me.  Fair enough?   Also, let it be known that I have gay friends; good friends are good friends, without other adjectives being necessary.  Nevertheless, I'm against gay marriage.

I understand the functional utility and desirability of marriage.  Taxes, loans, insurance, inheritance, adoption issues, other legalities - I confess I don't fully understand the barriers that gay couples face when a relationship falls outside of the legal parameters of terminology that is pervasive through our societal structures. 

But as the title says, call me old-fashioned.  Words mean things.  I don't deny that definitions can or even should change over time, but marriage is and has been defined as 1) the joining of two people 2) to live as husband and wife 3) in a life-long committed relationship.  That's my definition, but I checked out different references and they're pretty consistent.

I'll work at that definition backwards to make my case.

3) Marriage is already struggling to remain meaningful as a life-long, or even long-term, commitment in today's society.

Rather than get into the numbers of people who live together and raise families without seeing a need for marriage or a divorce rate that clearly infers "life-long" means "unless I become unhappy or find a better option," married heterosexuals aren't exactly living the ideal. 

In Europe, a new trend is beginning where marriage is negotiated in a literal contract for 5-7 years, after which the terms of separation are defined as are the options for renegotiation.  Some social architects think this is architecture for social progress.  In a world where it's all about me, "all about we" seems to be suffering.  This is just a comment on the definition - it's ironic that same sex couples seek acceptance under a term that is struggling to maintain its own definition in this separate regard.  That doesn't mean that this part of the definition should be changed. 

2) I do believe that marriage should be limited to heterosexuals.  Without getting into relational roles or the societal benefit of a traditional family unit, it's difficult to equate gay to hetero marriages. 

For example, if someone were to comment, "They're a very nice married couple," the understanding is immediately about a husband and wife.  A gay couple, married or not, would be remarked "a very nice gay couple."

This isn't meant to be a hurtful observation.  But just as gays celebrate diversity, it's a difficult proposition to seek being treated the same as heterosexuals by inclusion in a term that, by definition, excludes.   And that remains an understandable sore point that seemingly cannot be adequately addressed by other terms such as gay union, domestic partners, etc.  However, that does not mean that there is a societal obligation to change what is (or should be) a very specific, meaningful term.

1)  This is where the finger pointing really starts.  But as the duration of marriage is already challenged, and the genders involved are being tested, is it really that far-fetched to push the marriage envelope a bit further?

The seeming romanticism of the term marriage suggests that it's suitable for people who really, really care about each other and want to make a visible and legal commitment to each other to always seek the other person's best interest through the rest of their lives.  Or contract, but I digress.

If that is really the motivating sentiment on widening the definition of marriage, then, may I ask, is it not too far-fetched that a man and two women would ask for the same social approval?  Or a woman and two men?  Or a foursome? 

Why shouldn't marriage be interpreted to include a loving relationship by any number of consenting adults, or, in seedier parts of the world, children?

Think about it, and think of the social evolutions that have occurred just since the AARP card has become the status symbol for the 60's flower children.  I'm not casting judgment there, either, but look ahead in the course of time 20-30 years, and see where the trend leads.

As an added measure, look at the hands in which we place our hopes for good governance.  Regardless of the this specific issue or the political Party represented, "Statesmen" (as besmirched a lofty ideal as marriage) are in short supply.  Politicians, though, we have aplenty.  As follows, from the Wall Street Journal, April 7, 2009:

One who did [vote for the gay marriage bill] was first-term Rep. Jeff Young, D-St. Albans. He said he continued to be philosophically opposed to gay marriage, but decided that voting with his fellow Democrats would help him be an effective legislator in the future.

"You realize that, you know, it's a poker game in some ways," Young said. "Chips on the table. I'm a freshman. I have no chips. If I ... had 20 years of chips, I probably could play any card I want. I don't have that option."

He added, "It's the way the political game is played."


Please Note: My arguments against gay marriage stand as stated, without calling upon religious invective.

1 comment :

  1. It is interesting that we just a training on Divorce and its effect on children today at work. Did you know that the divorce rate is approximately 44 in 1000 people here in the US. The average for most European Nations is 4 in 1000. WOW! Italy has one of the lowest at 1 in 1000. To my way of thinking, we should be concentrating on fixing the problem of divorce and its effects on the family before we start adding more potential problems to the issue.

    During our Treatment Team meeting, the two cases brought up for discussion both involved divorced couples and the issues that this had on the children. In both cases the children were out of control, extremely angry and violent towards their custodial parent. Both are teenagers, 16 years old and living with mom, but one was female and the other male. The therapist will be trying to reach out to these out of control teens and stabilize the families to try and stop the violence. Not an easy thing to accomplish in just 8 short weeks.

    Don't even get me started on the political aspects of this. The more I see and hear of the "political machine", the more I am coming to favor rigid term limits and high accountability of our political representatives. The shear fact that a representative is elected for his philosophical view point and platform and then they allow that to be sold out for future favors make me almost nauseous. If they will cave on this, what else will they be willing to cave on? I can't help but wonder if the vote was put to the people of Vermont, how exactly would they vote? I know the state of Florida voted a Constitutional Amendment that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Where the citizens of Vermont offered the same choice?