May 21, 2008

On the Recent California Supreme Court Decision Legalizing Gay Marriage

It is a relief to see that common sense and reason prevail in the real world, as the California Supreme Court legalized gay marriage by striking down the California Defense of Marriage Act, a deceptively named piece of legislation whose sole goal was to reinforce prejudices and somehow make people who felt that gays were icky were being kept in check somehow. This was obviously a step in the right direction for civil liberties in the United States. Though 60% of California oppose gay marriage (but oddly enough, not civil unions which give exactly the same rights), such an opposition should not prevent individuals from receiving rights that every other citizen has. While it is doubtful that this court case will put to rest the arguments on the topic of gay marriage, there is hope that this decision can finally allow people to see that barring their own prejudicial emotions there is absolutely no reason to bar gay marriage from occurring.

To start with, the California guaranteed all individuals have a right to marry. This was not contested by either side arguing for or against this decision. Instead, proponents of the Defense of Marriage Act argued variously that sexual orientation makes an individual unfit to marry, that gays were seeking a brand new right, that marriage is an institution whose purpose is to provide for children, and that gay marriage would undermine straight marriage. In addition to these claims, the usual ones about how homosexuality is a sin and that it is an unnatural state sure to lead to the downfall of mankind through AIDS also were part of the undercurrent arguing against the right to gay marriage. Fortunately for individuals who value truth and what is right over the most devoid opposition to a legal right since attempts to end segregation, the California court ruling provides irrefutable legal and logical justification for why all these arguments against gay marriage are without merit and simply hate speech in disguise.

The first argument against gay marriage was the easiest to deal with in the court’s opinion. The court easily found that there was no reason to buy this belief, most primarily because such an idea would also have outlawed interracial marriage because calling gay marriage a new “right” meant that anything besides marriage between a man and woman of the same race, religion and nationality would be equally rejected as not covered under California’s constitution. The court’s decision did not grant homosexuals a new right; it merely restored rights that had originally been lost by them.

Failing that, the only other arguments against gay marriage specifically were that marriage is an institution designed to provide for children and that gay marriage would undermine straight marriage. The first argument makes no sense at all, because it would mean both that people who aren’t able to have children and who don’t want to have children should be denied their right to marry. The only response that those who opposed gay marriage could come up with was that gays were the only cases in which people knew that there was no way to have children, an argument that fortunately is just not true.

As for gay marriage somehow having an undermining effect on straight marriage, the argument again boils down to children. Opponents of gay marriage argued that legalizing marriages between homosexuals would somehow send the message that it isn’t important that children are raised by their biological parents, and that would tear apart straight marriages. Such a position is nonsense. It is the equivalent of saying that adoptions would end up destroying marriages, a proposition that has been shown in the real world to be untrue. Even if such an idea had some warrant, it doesn’t matter in any legal sense whether a child is raised by their biological parents so long as the people raising them are fit to do so. There is clearly no reason to oppose gay marriage on any legal or logical principle.

The only possible reason for opposing gay marriage, then, is opposition to the existence of gay people. Opponents of gay marriage ultimately fear the existence of gay people, and their two main arguments against homosexuality are that it is a sin according to their religion and that it is unnatural. Both of these positions can be rejected outright as offensive to anyone who can so much as read this newspaper, because they require a severe lack of intelligence to believe in.

Arguments based in religion require a reading of texts that defies belief. The most common piece of scripture from Leviticus forbidding homosexuality usually leads to somehow making the dubious connection towards the “fact” that homosexuality causes AIDS because God wanted to punish people. An equivalent argument would be to say that eating clams cause 9/11, or that wearing clothing made of two different fibers brought about cancer into the world. The argument doesn’t even stand up on its own, because it requires a meticulous reading of the passage (“do not lie with a man as one would with a woman”) but fails to notice that, barring some colossal misunderstanding, when a man “lies” with another man it is not as he would with a woman. The commandment cannot stand up to itself; it is self defeating.

The last supposed “logical” objection to homosexuality is that it is unnatural. This ignores the fact both that homosexuality is natural and that it has evolved into existence as well. The argument also centers on a false notion that all homosexuality found in non-humans can lead to offspring, which is an outright lie. There is no reason in the belief that homosexuality is not natural, and thus there can be no natural objection to either gays or gay marriage.

The end of the line comes for arguments against homosexuality when individuals start arguing that such an act is immoral. Without pointing out the hypocrisy of the immorality of denying people rights based on something that doesn’t actually affect those doing the condemnations, this argument is yet another lie. There is no reason for homosexuality to be declared immoral that hasn’t already been seen to be a ruse and a falsehood.

Thus it is abundantly clear that the only reason people actually oppose gay marriage and homosexuality in general is because homosexuality makes them uncomfortable. They feel an emotional disgust towards gay people. There is nothing else backing any homophobic action in the United States today. All other supposed arguments are covers for ultimately a personal revulsion a person feels towards gay people as a group. Opponents of gay marriage, quite literally, find gay people to be “icky” and don’t want anything to do with them, believing that they aren’t human.

And unfortunately, there is no way to change their beliefs. No one has the right to deny other people from feeling disgust for an individual based on something arbitrary, like their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. However, that does not mean people have the right to deny freedoms to people on those basis. To deny the right for gays to marry is no different than outlawing interracial marriage, or banning women from voting, or from forbidding individuals from having a job because of their religion. America is not that kind of country. It is a crime to deny equal rights to people. It is a sin to let one’s irrational emotions deny other individuals what they are due from their government and society at large.

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