Christians Fail at Explaining Why they Deny Gays Civil Unions

Hugh Hewitt, a radio talkshow host, tried his best to make the case against Same Sex Marriage.  I listened to the entire hour and here is my argument FOR Same Sex Marriage.  LISTEN HERE

1) This radio program did itself a dis-service by not reading any of the text from Judge Walker’s ruling on this case before proceeding.  (See references below to read the full ruling) They like to comment on what he supposedly said, without letting his words be read first.  It is also interesting to note that Walker was nominated by Ronald Regan and later appointed by George Bush and almost did not make it through his vetting because he was considered to be “too conservative and a literalist in constitutional law”.  He was criticized for being a member of a private club that had refused membership to blacks and women; gay rights advocates also denounced his representation, as a private lawyer, of the United States Olympic Committee in its efforts to keep another organization from calling itself the Gay Olympics.

They also did not explain the main constitutional or legal arguments from each side of the debate.  Those who favor banning Same Sex Marriage say that the 10 amendment is what gives their state by state case the legal right to define marriage.  The 10th Amendment states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”  On the other side of the legal argument, there is the 14th Amendment, which states: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”  In other words, the states can define marriage, so long as they don’t discriminate.  For example, not too long ago, whites and blacks were not legally allowed to get married…. (see point 2)

1A) One of the commentators halfway through expresses that his main argument against SSM is that marriage is meant to be between a man and a woman as taught by his christian religion.  He then stated that this was not a good enough argument and that the argument against SSM tries to show how traditional marriage is best.  Why fight this fight?

A. One answer given is that the judicial decision will determine what “type of community we have” and what “type of family we present to our children”.  This is NOT what the ruling was about.  The ruling on Prop 8 concluded that discriminating against gay and lesbian couples is unconstitutional.  Opponents of interracial marriage had the same argument in the 1800 and 1900s.  They could not imagine a world where blacks and whites were allowed to marry and have kids.  What would happen when mixed children went to school with white children, and what type of family would that present to our children!?  The bottom line is that you may disagree with other people’s lifestyle and private life, but this does not mean you can enact laws that prevent them from exercising their constitutional freedoms.

B. Another argument put forth is that if you allow same sex marriage, then what?  Polygamy?  The same could be said about interracial marriage.  “Well, if you let blacks marry whites, then what? People will be marrying their dogs!”  The problem with this argument is that it does not address the debate of civil rights at hand, yet wildly extrapolates into a scare tactic.  What if we said the same thing about ending abortion?  “Well, if we say that abortion is illegal, pretty soon you won’t be able to spay or neuter your cat!”  That tactic does not address the civil right at hand.  Granting civil rights to a group of consenting adults of legal age is the legal issue at hand.  If it is upheld by the constitution, it should be granted.  When people want to marry more than one person, that legal and constitutional issue can be addresses later and has no bearing on the constitutional rights of the group being discussed.  It is ironic to note that the LDS church, the biggest spender against Prop 8, is the only religion involved in this debate that allows for polygamist marriages.  Also, using the divorce rate of heterosexual couples to deny homosexual couples the right to marry is discriminatory.

C. Religious schools will have to hire or give benefits to same sex couples.  This is a scare tactic.  Because of the separation of church and state, the state cannot tell a religious group how to define marriage in their religious ceremonies, nor does it have the jurisdiction to tell these groups who they cannot discriminate against.  According to the constitution, christian churches will be able to continue defining marriage between a man and women and will be allowed to continue discrimination on the job by sexual orientation.  Heck, they can even still discriminate according to religious standing when hiring and firing.

D. One guy suggests that kids that have only one parent are more likely to end up in the prison system.  He is making a conclusion without data.  It is more accurate to state that children who grow up in poor neighborhoods with high crime rates are more likely to go to prison.  They are also more likely to have only one parent, but the conclusion that they go to prison is not determined by their single parent status, but rather by their economic status and high crime environment.  These kids are also primarily black, but we are not about to suggest that BECAUSE you are black you have a higher chance of going to prison, like this commentator suggested of single parenthood.

2) Historically, the USA has already been through a shockingly similar debate about what types of adults have the legal right to civil unions (legal marriage).  For the first hundred years of our country’s history, your sex determined your right to vote.  Not until 1920, was women’s suffrage granted by the 19th Amendment.  Before then, you had to have a penis in order to vote.  It reads:  “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

Interracial marriage laws were known as “anti-miscegenation” laws.  Most states, especially slave states, held on to their anti-miscegenation laws even after the slaves were freed.  Christians defended these laws with various bible passages.  The constitutionality of anti-miscegenation laws was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1883 case Pace v. Alabama (106 U.S. 583). The Supreme Court ruled that the Alabama anti-miscegenation statute did not violate the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. According to the court, both races were treated equally, because whites and blacks were punished in equal measure for breaking the law against interracial marriage and interracial sex. This judgment was overturned in 1967 in the Loving v. Virginia case, where the Supreme Court declared anti-miscegenation laws a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment and therefore unconstitutional.

The same arguments are being held now over same sex marriage.  Racial discrimination of the 20th century is strikingly similar to sexual discrimination in the 21st century.  Historically, citizens of the united states have shown a history of denying rights to minority groups or unpopular groups.  That is why the founders of the USA set up a partial democracy.  If majority vote determined who was granted rights and who wasn’t, the slaves would not have been freed, women would not have been granted the right to vote and interracial couples would not have been given equal rights. All those changes were wildly unpopular in their day, but the courts did their job in upholding the equal rights laid out in the constitution.  Same sex marriage is just another example of this pattern.  The radio commentators continued to say that same sex marriage “is an assault on traditional marriage”.  The same argument could have been made in 1880, when interracial marriage was frowned upon by Christians as an “assault on traditional marriage” between whites and whites.

3) It is the mantra of the Republican party and staunch conservatives that the government should stay out of our business, stay out of our private lives.  The government should not be putting restrictions on our personal freedoms.  The only time government should enact laws is when our personal decisions directly harm the lives or property of other citizens.  Gays and Lesbians are living lives of love for each other, harming no one.  They are simply asking for basic civil liberties like every other citizen: the right to legally unite and receive the same legal parameters as opposite sex partners.  Same sex couples face discrimination by the federal government because of their sexual makeup.  This discrimination goes against everything the constitution stands to uphold and protect.  The love between same sex persons does not harm others and should not be such an obsession of the christian religions.

4)  Religion. The most opposed group to Civil Unions is the Christian and Mormon religious base.  Where they go wrong is in trying to enact laws that enforce their own religious doctrine.  The 1st Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”  By enacting a law such as Prop 8, Christians and Mormons edge dangerously close to making laws establishing a religion or religious preference in the law.  If the argument against Same Sex marriage is primarily “God says it is wrong”, then making such a law to reflect the religious teaching of one religious group comes dangerously close to violating the 1st Amendment.

The Mormon Church, in it’s campaign for Prop 8 spent 100 times mores than they reported on campaigning.  Because churches are not taxed by gov’t, they are not allowed to donate money to political campaigns without filing reports and paying taxes on those contributions.  There is evidence that much more was spent by the LDS church on Prop 8, as documented in the film 8: The Mormon Proposition. After they ran out of money, the LDS church petitioned the Catholic Church to help fund their Prop 8 campaign in California.  The Catholic Church gave millions of dollars to the LDS church for their campaign efforts.  http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jan/21/local/la-me-prop8-trial21-2010jan21 The Christian obsession with denying gays civil liberties is disturbing at best.

In Conclusion, I must state that I am personally not in favor of marriage law, even for heterosexual couples.  Many people use it, and I think they should be able to, should this be their choice.  It is simply not my personal choice to use the legal package of marriage to accomplish a legal union between myself and my partner.  You can read more about my views on why I think legal marriage is not the best legal option for any couple:  http://liberatedmind.com/2010/02/what-could-be-better-than-marriage/

Resources:

1) Summary of California ruling by NYTimes: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/05/us/05prop.html

2) Full text on Judge Walker’s Ruling:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/04/prop-8-ruling-read-the-fu_n_671050.html

3) There was a bigger case in Massachusetts where another judge ruled in favor of equal rights for Gays and Lesbians.  http://www.slate.com/id/2260039  The Gill case, which was filed first by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, is unique because it challenged not the right of same-sex couples to marry, but the discrimination faced by same-sex couples who were legally married in Massachusetts but are treated differently than opposite-sex married couples by the federal government. The case points to health and retirement benefits of federal employees and their same-sex spouses or, in one case, the widow of a former federal employee. It also challenges diffential tax treatment faced by same-sex couples.

4) US Constitution

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  • http://liberatedmind.com LiberatedMind.com

    To add to this post… Here is a link to a scientific study on the data available on children raised in same sex households: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100831091240.htm

    “The census data show that having parents who are the same gender is not in itself any disadvantage to children,” he said. “Parents’ income and education are the biggest indicators of a child’s success. Family structure is a minor determinant.”