Wordy Wednesday

I had no idea what I was going to write about until Brandon saved my day and chimed in to leave this comment on yesterday’s post:

Particular arguments aside, when it comes to this issue, are “you” not doing the same thing you say the other side is doing – trying to force your flock’s paradigm on the rest of us – especially given that “your” side are the ones looking to change the current paradigm?

Brandon may think that I don’t like him very much (correct me if I’m wrong, Brandon), but he would be wrong in that assessment.  While I may not like the positions he takes on some of my issues, he is, nevertheless, someone who always gets me thinking.  Contrary to what some people may think of me, I’m NOT interested in having a happy little peanut gallery here whose members all live in harmonious agreement; a dissenting voice, expressed respectfully and in a way that doesn’t threaten or demean, is always welcomed here.

Anyway, Brandon asked a fair question (and one that I’ve considered a number of times before, as I am very sensitive to being thought hypocritical).  The response I crafted to his genuine query (while I was waiting for my dinner to cook) felt too long for a comment, so I’m opening this up for general consumption.

Brandon, that’s a fair question, and I can see how some people would (and do!) feel that way.

The difference, I think, is that no one is forcing anyone else, at least in THIS issue (and in any number of questions concerning others’ rights) to do anything other than accept that equal rights, in order to BE equal rights, have to apply, you know, EQUALLY to EVERYONE.  No one on “my” side is forcing people to marry – or not.  No one is forcing anyone else to have an abortion or use birth control.  No one is forcing anyone else to observe anyone else’s religious rites.  There are a great number of those on the “other” side – perhaps not you, personally, but let’s agree that this is not an unfair statement – who DO want to force those things on people, actively and with the full weight of the law behind them.  That’s the part I object to.

Look, there are any number of things that any number of us find distasteful.  Some people are offended by strip clubs.  Some wish that their children’s schools taught only what they think is right and true and necessary for their kid to learn.  Some people are deeply suspicious of religious groups and think them dangerous.  We all have to learn to live together (or, if not together exactly, then at the very least in close proximity).  No one’s asking anyone to ACCEPT anything personally – someone may never accept that gay people can engage in the same kind of marriage that they have, and that’s their own personal deal.  What we ARE demanding (and it IS a demand) is that they TOLERATE it; that they concede that equal rights apply to everyone, even to people they may not like.

It’s a big comparison, but I’m going to make it, anyway; 146-odd years ago, there was a significant portion of the country wanted NOTHING to do with black people partaking in the same rights as they had (let’s remember that Delaware refused to ratify the 13th Amendment until 1901, for crying out loud), and even in our lifetimes (well, MY lifetime; I don’t know how old you are, Brandon, but I suspect this is true of most of my readers), there was still legalized segregation in a shameful number of places.  “We” (at least, a majority of us) recognized this was wrong, and we worked and fought (and bled and died) to fix it (as much as we did, that is; we’ve still got quite a long way to go). 

I really don’t think that this is an unfair parallel to make; what’s happening with this issue (and in a lot of other places) is WRONG, and serves no other purpose than to make a minority of frightened, narrow-minded people feel a little better about themselves and their place in the world.  I’m sorry if freedom and equality make those people uncomfortable, but I’m not sorry enough to give up my rights (or the rights of my fellows) to make them feel better.

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Filed under compassion and connection, critical thinking, family matters, GLBTQ/Ally issues, Home and Family, ideas and opinions, politics, ruminating, social issues, this is NOT a drill, Worries and Anxieties

28 responses to “Wordy Wednesday

  1. Brandon

    *tips hat*

    Glad I could be of assistance. And I am pleased to say that I did not think that you did not like me simply because of my positions on many issues. Likewise, I do not dislike you in virtue of our differences of opinion. I’ve always felt welcomed to be a dissenting voice which is why I do chime in from time to time.

    The direction I was heading with my question was that all laws essentially force some one’s moral view on another and we are all better off if both sides don’t make this complaint. We should argue the merits (which you have done here and at other times) of our respective positions without simply dismissing the other side’s argument by saying you can’t force your morality on us, since each side can make that claim equally and then we just end up in an endless pissing match. If we’re going to end up in an endless pissing match, let it be because we are arguing over legitimate differences, such as whether or not this really is an equal rights issue or whether the comparison with the experience of black Americans is an accurate parallel. 🙂

  2. Improbable Joe

    Right-wingers always lie in that exact way, so I don’t know why you’d like or respect a liar. It doesn’t force a moral view on anyone to allow people to do what they like in contrast to what others would like them to do. If my wife has an abortion, it doesn’t force any anti-abortion activists to have an abortion. If I wear a condom and fuck every consenting adult in seven states, it doesn’t prevent a pro-abstinence theist to have sex EVER. If I decide to marry 3 women and seven men, it doesn’t force a Catholic to marry more than one person of the opposite sex.

    That is the dishonest position of the “sanctity of marriage” idiots. They act as though my behavior against their shitty little false morality is an infringement on their rights. Fuck those bigots.

  3. Improbable Joe

    Or, to put it more simply:

    When we say “you’re trying to impose your viewpoint on us” we mean “you’re trying to make it illegal for us to act in ways you disagree with.”

    When Brandon says “you’re trying to impose your viewpoint on us” he means “you’re trying to allow me to live according to my viewpoint, but also allowing other people to exist who refuse to live according to my viewpoint.” Brandon, of course, is a lousy human being.

  4. Joe, the kernel of your argument – They act as though my behavior against their shitty little false morality is an infringement on their rights – is pretty much exactly what I’m saying, but with a little more, what shall we call it… enthusiasm. Yes; that’s it, exactly; the main thrust of a lot of the “right’s” objection to most of these issues is that they don’t want to have to SEE or THINK about anyone ELSE doing something they disapprove of. To that, I too say “fuck them.” No one is forcing anything other than the recognition that some people they may not like very much get to do things that make them happy. Too bad for the haters.

    Where we’re going to diverge (and I know this will come as no surprise to you, Joe, or to anyone else here, for that matter) is your assertion that Brandon is a lousy human being. He’s trying to figure it out, the same as the rest of us. The fact that he comes here and reads what I write (and what you all comment) and genuinely engages in some of these topics tells me that he’s NOT a lousy human being (though I don’t mean to say that readership here is an important criteria in the evaluation of one’s basic humanity). He’s not locked in a “I’ve got mine, fuck the rest of you” mentality, as least as far as I can tell. That counts for something.

  5. Providing one group with rights that are deemed immoral due to that group’s faith is a problem. I see it as a double-edged sword. Gays really are the best example. We no longer have laws against gay marriage, but we do have laws in most states against it. To me that makes no sense. This existed once. Black people have political, social, and economic rights granted to them by the 14th Amendment; however, blacks and whites cannot marry. This is a very simple point….But, it points to a notion that is very unclear.

  6. Brandon

    You are correct Chili, that is not my mentality and this is obviously an emotional subject which elicits strong reactions from both sides. The issue here, though, is not one of rights, but one of definitions. Unless one favors throwing out every boundary from the definition of marriage, then one is for excluding certain combinations of people and we are therefore arguing about what definition to use.

    I’m saying one man, one woman, you and others are saying two people who love each other and we each have our reasons for why we think our own definition is better. Neither definition is unconstitutional as long as it is applied equally to every individual within the boundaries of the state’s definition of what marriage is. Every man or woman currently has the ability to get married to a member of the opposite sex- that is being applied equally to every individual – and no one’s rights are being violated. Now I obviously realize that a gay man doesn’t want to marry a woman and this is of little comfort to him, but what he wants is a separate issue from whether or not a right is being applied equally to him, which in this case it is.

  7. Here’s another way to think about gay marriage . . . .

    By banning gay marriage, its opponents are commanding each and every church, pastor, congregation and faith to NOT perform these marriages, even if they are ceremonies that they believe in and think are correct.

    By legalizing gay marriage, its supporters are telling each and every church, pastor, congregation and faith that they MAY perform these ceremonies, if their faith supports it, but they don’t have to perform them if they are opposed.

    Which position is in keeping with freedom and liberty, and which is not?

  8. Brandon, what you’re talking about is maintaining the heteronormative hegemony. Sure, the laws as they stand (well, at least in 44 – soon to be 43! – states) allow any individual to marry another opposite-sex individual. That’s all well and good, but it’s still discriminatory.

    • Improbable Joe

      Yeah, he’s talking about maintaining the heteronormative hegemony, and discriminating against marriage equality… but he’s just a lovely human being otherwise? No. Maybe someday, if he abandons his anti-humanity, anti-American viewpoints. Not until then.

  9. Brandon

    But that’s my point, it is not discriminatory. In the cases of those 43 states, no individual is being denied the right to marry – it is being applied equally to everyone. Groups of people don’t have rights, only individuals do. The fact that that isn’t what a homosexual individual wants, does not mean that he is being discriminated against in this regard. He is asking for a special right and society is not under an obligation to grant him that.

    If Jim Crow-type legislation was in existence, or anything else that criminalized being homosexual, then I would be right there with you decrying the discrimination. Homosexual individuals are free to pursue lifelong commitments and live their lives together with whomever they want. The fact that their relationship is not recognized by society in the same way as a marriage relationship is not discrimination. This is a debate about what standard society should recognize, heteronormative or otherwise, hence the passionate opinions on both sides of the issue.

    • Brandon, what about my point. You want to continue to force pastors and congregations to conform to your regulations. Is that okay? We don’t want to force any pastors and congregations to do anything. Which side is for liberty and freedom?

      • Brandon

        Hi Rick. I will certainly respond when I am able to on something other than my mobile which may be a bit later.

      • Brandon, have you forgotten to respond?

      • Brandon

        Not yet. 🙂 Still away and just have the phone. Planning on replying once I’ve got a keyboard again. Likely later this evening.

      • Brandon

        The only thing preventing any church from performing a same-sex ceremony is the actually governing body of the denomination/church. They decide the rules for performing weddings, much as a Catholic church isn’t going to perform a wedding ceremony if both the man and woman are not Catholic. If it is approved by the governing body, a church could perform a ceremony, but it would not be legally binding and would essentially be a commitment ceremony, unless same sex unions were legal in that particular state.

        So no church is being forced to not perform these ceremonies if it isn’t actually legal in the state. I would argue that it is more likely that a church could encounter problems if same sex marriage is approved in a particular state and the church still refuses to perform the ceremony for a same sex couple.

      • Brandon, you are wrong. Churches are being prevented from performing marriages in states where gay marriage bans have been instituted. Under no scenarios have any churches been forced to do gay marriages in states where they are legal if the church doesn’t want to do them. In fact – to this day – interracial marriages don’t have to be performed by any church if the church doesn’t want to perform them.

        Why do you want to force churches to not perform marriages, Brandon? Which side is in keeping with the spirit of freedom and liberty, Brandon?

      • Brandon

        What churches have been prevented from performing a ceremony? They can perform any ceremony they like, now whether it is a legally binding ceremony is another matter.

    • Don’t answer questions with questions, Brandon. Just address the points.

      • Brandon

        Well it is reasonable to ask you that when you claim that churches are being prevented from performing marriages. It is not avoiding addressing the points.

      • They are not allowed to perform marriages. End of story. YOU, Brandon, want to prevent them from performing marriages. Now answer the questions.

      • Brandon

        That’s not the end of the story Rick as you won’t even answer my question to your claim that churches are being prevented from performing same sex ceremonies. Who is stopping them? Who doesn’t allow it? Is local law enforcement threatening to close the church down or arrest anyone?

        And you are asking your question as if I actually said I wanted to prevent churches from performing same sex ceremonies – you are putting those words in my mouth and arguing from a false premise. If I did I suppose I’d be looking to force the Unitarian Universalists to stop their same-sex ceremonies. I entered into this discussion in good faith with as you as you have previously demonstrated that you can engage in a reasonable and honest discussion. But now you are barking at me to answer your questions that are setup on faulty premises as if I said any of the things you are attributing to me.

      • Brandon. Only one side of this issue wants to force religions and individuals to their will. Only one. It’s your side. You oppose freedom of religion. You oppose it and your side is actively legislating against it – through initiatives, amendments, and legislative actions.

        In other cases of marriage, a ceremony is performed and the state then recognizes the marriage. In cases of same-sex couples, under some state laws the marriage is unrecognized, and in other states it is actually illegal now and legal action – may be taken (not necessarily has been, but that’s not the point is it, because it can be escalated depending on who is sheriff, judge, local or state politician, etc.) against pastors who defy these laws.

        Brandon. Why do you hate freedom?

  10. Brandon employs a cheap rhetorical device, in which he gets to define the playing field, and then carp at those who break the rules of the game.

    Joe and Bob want to get married. The law has heretofore been unwilling to allow them to marry (in the legal sense), or to recognize any ceremonial marriage they have. Wanda is sympathetic, and says “why not, doesnt’ affect me one way or the other, and I have no independent desire that others’ happiness be thwarted.” Kevin says, “I don’t like the idea, and that is a good enough reason for it to be rejected, although, actually, it doesn’t affect me in any way, except perhaps to the extent I choose to be disgruntled about it.”

    Rhetorical sophistry aside, Wanda and Kevin do not occupy the same moral ground here. That’s my position.

  11. I can’t leave this alone. I’ll rephrase:

    I do not accept that your (or my) “comfort zone” is equivalent to the rights of others, even if those others have heretofore been denied those rights. That is especially true where granting those rights costs me (and you) nothing at all (or decision to gnash our teeth over it is of no import whatsoever in the equation). Saying “I like things the way they have always been” does not confer victimhood.

  12. I think a lot of what this boils down to is the distinction between civil and religious marriage. NO ONE is telling ANY religious institution that they HAVE to perform same sex marriages. NO ONE. In fact, I’m pretty certain (though it’s early and I don’t have time to pull up the stats) that every state that passes civil marriage laws carves out exemptions for religious institutions that refuse to perform such ceremonies – the couples in question can’t sue the churches for discrimination.

    What’s being argued here is that the religious institutions are trying to tell the state who can and cannot be married. It’s not just that they don’t want same sex marriages in their churches; it’s that they don’t want same sex marriages anywhere in their environment. They don’t want to see it on the street; they don’t want to have to explain it to their children when they ask about it. Same with the bullshit contraception fight going on now – it’s not that they don’t want to pay for it on moral grounds (because they’re NOT paying for it in the first place… don’t even fucking get me started); it’s that they don’t want ANYONE to have it.

  13. I’ve been ill, I’m very late to this conversation and I’m not even going to enter it, just toss up a snapshot and wander away. It’ll probably get lost but it makes me feel good and that’s rare enough the past few months so here it is.

    Every time a state passes same gender marriage into law John Scalzi checks in with his wife about how their marriage has been affected. He listens to all his dissenting commenters and he’s been told more than once about the dangers. Here’s their check in from the day Washington passed the law: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/02/08/congratulations-washington/

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