So one of my friends from work posted this on Facebook:
Frankly, I don't care what the word marriage means. What I am worried about is that this change to the state constitution will provide a lever arm that fundamentalists will use to go after progressive policies at state institutions which already extend fair benefits to homosexual couples and other partners.
For instance my employer, the
no other legal union that is treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof shall be valid or recognized
So does this mean that state institutions will not be able to offer benefits to partners who don't hold a marriage license?
To me the solution is pretty simple- get the government out of the marriage business. To create a fair society that provides equal opportunity and treatment for everyone under the law there is a better approach. The government should only be involved in these sorts of interpersonal relationships insofar as there are contractual issues regarding inheritance and power of attorney. Beyond that marriage or whatever else you may care to call it in your social circle can be defined by you and your family.
Of course fairness is not what the proponents of Amendment 2 had in mind. I'm glad that these wedge social issues didn't seem to play nationally this year, but I'm sad that my state has now enshrined this nonsense in its constitution.
My friend James said it nicely when talking about how people react to issues that are cast as gay issues, "it's amazing how ridiculous people get just because they think it's icky". Maybe that's over simplifying things, but I think it's not far off the mark. Many people are so blinded by their disdain for the gay lifestyle that they are willing to enshrine discrimination into our laws. So although I see the election of a black president to be a beautiful step away from our nation's history of enshrined racism, I'm afraid that ballot measures like amendment 2 in FL indicate that we still have a long way to go.
I attempted a response and decided to post it here ...
I find that people on either of this fence seem unable to acknowledge any legitimacy in the viewpoint of the other side. Equating a religious belief that homosexuality is wrong to “they think it’s icky” is not oversimplification. At best it’s ignorance or an unwillingness to respect the beliefs of someone who believes differently than you. At worst it’s the same kind of ‘hate behavior’ that the politically correct crowd claims to deplore: deliberately disparaging a moral belief as arbitrary and capricious just because you don’t agree with it.
We all have our own moral standards based on our individual beliefs and life experiences. Each person thinks that their own beliefs are true –they may agree that other people have a right to believe differently, but base their life and actions on their own beliefs. We’re encouraged to practice tolerance, but in today’s political climate, that most often means being intolerant of those that have different moral standards. We may say that other people have a right to their own beliefs, but in practice we fail to respect those beliefs; instead, we ridicule and deride them. Rather than respecting someone’s right to believe that homosexuality is wrong, we say that they’re “blinded by their disdain for the gay lifestyle”.
With regard to legislation, we all would like our own beliefs and morals to be legal. For example, consider another hot topic: abortion. Those who are pro-life believe that a fetus is a human being with the same rights as any human, born or unborn. They want to impose the burden of carrying the child to term on the mother. Those who are pro-choice believe that a fetus does not have the rights of a human being until he is born. They want to impose death on the fetus and deprive the father of any say in his child’s existence. It is incorrect to say that only the pro-life person is imposing their morals on the rest of us; in fact both sides seek to impose moral standards via legislation.
The case of gay rights seems simple: anyone who deprives someone of rights based on his sexual preference is wrong. No problem. But how do we define ‘rights’? What happens when giving a certain right to gays forces someone else to behave contrary to their beliefs? For example:
A wedding photographer in
So does the lesbian couple have the right to demand that the photographer shoot their wedding even though that causes the photographer to violate their own belief that homosexuality is wrong? Did the photographer respond with hatred when they said they don’t photograph same-sex weddings? What do you call ‘fairness’ here?
I had varying thoughts and emotions regarding the ‘marriage amendment’. Do I think it’s wrong for companies and organizations to offer benefits to domestic partners, regardless of gender or marital status? No. Do I think ‘marriage’ ought to be defined as being between one man and one woman? Yes. If you want to give an appellation to other types of unions, use another word. It’s certainly not possible to predict how the courts are going to interpret this amendment; such amendments passed in other states have been interpreted in radically different ways depending on the state. We’ll see.
So I guess my point is that respecting other people’s beliefs doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try to legislate my own personal beliefs or that I have to disregard my beliefs to support theirs. It does mean I shouldn’t disparage their beliefs even if I think they’re wrong.