The Gay Part

Interesting article in the NY Times about conservative Christians’ battle against gay marriage, “What's Their Real Problem With Gay Marriage? (It's the Gay Part).” One of the things that anti-gay rights politicians will say (including the president), is that it’s not that their against homosexuals, or even homosexuality; it’s just that they’re against gay marriage. It is, though, nothing more than a fine bit of semantics which means nothing to those who support gay rights, and whether the murmurers of such drivel believe it is beside the point, because the people who elect them disagree:

[F]or the anti-gay-marriage activists, homosexuality is something to be fought, not tolerated or respected. I found no one among the people on the ground who are leading the anti-gay-marriage cause who said in essence: ''I have nothing against homosexuality. I just don't believe gays should be allowed to marry.'' Rather, their passion comes from their conviction that homosexuality is a sin, is immoral, harms children and spreads disease. Not only that, but they see homosexuality itself as a kind of disease, one that afflicts not only individuals but also society at large and that shares one of the prominent features of a disease: it seeks to spread itself…

At its essence, then, the Christian conservative thinking about gay marriage runs this way. Homosexuality is not an innate, biological condition but a disease in society. Marriage is the healthy root of society. To put the two together is thus willfully to introduce disease to that root. It is society willing self-destruction, which is itself a symptom of a wider societal disease, that of secularism.
To the degree that marriage may contribute to the health of a society, such a contribution isn’t predicated upon those entering the marriage contract being of opposite sexes, and is dependent upon the health of the union—that is, an absence of infidelities, abuse, and other subversive behaviors. To simply say that marriage itself, a concept that is wholly meaningless without the requisite caveats about the strength and functionality of those actively engaged with the concept, is the healthy root of society, is simplistic to the point of absurdity.

The truth is, of course, that when conservative Christians reference “marriage,” what they mean is their vision of marriage, which encompasses all the traditional ideals associated with marriage—childbearing and –rearing, a lifelong union unblemished by divorce, etc. What such a picture fails to address, however, is that parenting, dedicated partnerships, and the other associated ideals are not restricted to those bound by marriage, or to couples of the opposite sex. Nor are those bound by marriage necessarily destined to parent or spend their lives together. And the truth is, one cannot legislate a prohibition against deliberate childlessness, or divorce, or an aversion to marriage altogether. Not without undermining the fundamental precepts of the American democracy.

And so we end up with a situation wherein the LGBT community is being arbitrarily barred from equal rights. They may not fit into the conservative Christian view of marriage, but then again, neither do I, and yet I’m still allowed to marry.

In the words of Gary Bauer, president of American Values -- one of what is now a total of 61 organizations under the Arlington Group banner, with a combined membership of 60 million -- gay marriage is ''the new abortion.'' He meant that, as with abortion, conservatives see gay marriage as a culture-altering change being implemented by judicial fiat.
Bauer is correct. Abortion did alter our culture, and in spite of their claims that society is worse for its legalization, the opposite is true:

I recently read an incredibly interesting book called Freakonomics, in which an economist by the name of Steven Levitt examines an array of unconnected topics, often unearthing hidden correlations and causations using economic principles. When he set to figuring out why crime rates had fallen so dramatically in the 1990s, even though the horrific crime wave of the ’80s was almost unanimously predicted by criminologists to worsen, he discovered that

crime began falling nationwide just 18 years after the Supreme Court effectively legalized abortion. He was struck harder by the fact that in five states crime began falling three years earlier than it did everywhere else. These were exactly the five states that had legalized abortion three years before Roe v. Wade.


The bottom line? Legalized abortion was the single biggest factor in bringing the crime wave of the 1980s to a screeching halt.
Such findings are, of course, exactly what conservative Christians don’t want to hear. And while there is certainly a viable argument that the better way to control crime is to improve the cirumstances of both those likely to give birth to children who become criminals, and the children that are born to such women, there’s only so much time in a day, and when there are endless numbers of abortion clinics who need clusters of anti-abortion activists intimidating women with posterboards emblazoned with dead fetuses, how can anyone rightfully expect them to spend what little free time they have left solving the problem of endemic poverty, too?

But I digress.

The fact of the matter remains as true today as it did in the days leading up to the historic Roe v. Wade decision. Society will never match anyone’s version of perfection, and failing perfection, the best we can do is ensure that each American has as much right to and opportunity for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The legalization of gay marriage will take none of that away from conservative Christians…and threatening one’s vision of Utopia isn’t a reason to punish an entire segment of the American populace. For which conservative Chrisitians ought to be particularly grateful these days.

(Hat tip to Shaker and Julien’s List contributor Holly.)

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