I decided to move my Sunday lectures to Mondays. We can say that it is because I am respecting the Sabbath and refuse to work on Sunday, or we can go with the logic that my columns get substantially more traffic on Monday, and I kind of like it when people actually READ what I write. Whatever helps you through my rambling, and thank you in advance for reading and sharing my column on your Facebook/Twitter.
As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments this week on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage, I got myself into a bit of a discussion with a conservative friend who (shockingly) is opposed to same-sex people getting the same rights as couples who choose a “traditional” relationship. I started out by reminding him that it wasn’t “traditional” for whites and blacks to be allowed to marry prior to a court ruling in 1967, but starting from a place of rationality and logic wasn’t going to fly in this debate: He made it clear right away that it was rapidly going to devolve into Flying Spaghetti Monster vs. Jesus.
The argument always seems to get clouded rather quickly. The fact is that the courts will decide if over 1100 rights and benefits that straight couples get can legally be denied to otherwise equal gay couples based solely on who they have decided they love. This is not an exaggeration – There are 1,138 benefits, rights and protections provided on the basis of marital status in Federal law. Because the Defense of Marriage Act defines “marriage” as only a legal union between one man and one woman, (let’s not even TRY to bring Civil Unions into this conversation) same-sex couples – even if legally married in their state – will not be considered spouses for purposes of federal law.
That, and only that, is what this is about. It’s not about what you think your God wants. It’s not about gay people making you feel uncomfortable. It’s not about upholding the “Biblical” definition of marriage. It is sacred, after all! What is the Biblical definition of traditional marriage, again?
With that, I say to my Bible-thumping friends – Choose your argument carefully. If you want to base your opposition to gay marriage on “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” you also must embrace incest, concubines, and lots of other interesting stuff that the Bible says about the subjugation of women. You aren’t allowed to pick and choose what parts of the Bible you follow. We certainly don’t want to be going around stoning every chick who isn’t a virgin on her wedding night, as it says we are to do in Deuteronomy 22:13-21
For example, if you quote Leviticus 20:13 to me – “If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
I will counter with Hebrews 13:4 – “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and the sexually immoral.”
You want me to go New Testament on you and make you feel like a pervert? Matthew 5:28 – “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Want me to talk about what The Bible has to say about masturbation? It would be amazing if people would stop trying to use the Bible as a reason to hate their fellow man. The core of the teachings of Jesus Christ are rooted in love, compassion, healing, and tolerance for everyone.
Conservative columnist David Brooks made the case way back in 2003 that supporting gay marriage SHOULD be a conservative position. He argues, “The conservative course is not to banish gay people from making such commitments. It is to expect that they make such commitments. We shouldn’t just allow gay marriage. We should insist on gay marriage. We should regard it as scandalous that two people could claim to love each other and not want to sanctify their love with marriage and fidelity.” With more than half of “traditional” marriages ending in divorce, exactly WHAT part of straight marriage deserves or warrants protection, anyway? Are straight people worried that gay weddings will be too fabulous to compete with?
Keep in mind that when The Supreme Court made bans on interracial marriage unconstitutional that several states had laws already prohibiting it, and the majority of the country was opposed to their decision. With same-sex rights, polling seems to be a bit more progressive-leaning, where most surveys show a dramatic swing in the past five years towards support for equal rights for gay and lesbian couples.
To sum it up, I decided to get a bit sentimental (I attended a very nice wedding over the weekend) and include some “traditional” wedding rights that we all may take for granted. From Freedomtomarry.org:
In sickness and in health. Marriage automatically enables spouses to visit each other in the hospital; to make each others’ emergency medical decisions; to share a family health plan; and to take medical leave to care for a sick spouse or child.
For richer and for poorer. Marriage means that governments, banks, credit card companies, and other financial institutions will consider both spouses’s incomes, assets, or debts in such matters as taxes, credit, loans, inheritance, divorce settlements, and eligibility for public housing, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits.
When a child joins the family. Marriage automatically enables the spouses to be joint parents, covering such situations as making school or medical decisions, applying for passports, passing on inheritances, or being eligible for visitation rights and child support obligations if the parents separate.
When death parts the pair. Marriage law enables a survivor to continue to care for (or be cared for by) the dead partner in such situations as making funeral arrangements, inscribing an epitaph, inheriting a lease, filing wrongful death claims, taking bereavement leave, and passing on property.
If conservatives TRULY believe that marriage is between “One man and one woman”, I propose that they put their money where their alleged morals are and file legislation that bans divorce. After all, I’m pretty sure that “traditional marriage” doesn’t include working on a fourth wife, but I can only assume that since Rush Limbaugh makes millions of dollars that he must know something that God missed. After all, Matthew 19:9 clearly says, “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” If I know ANYTHING about my conservative and religious friends: They REFUSE to be hypocrites under ANY circumstances. How about we judge less and love more? After all, isn’t that part of what being a good Christian is about? I think I read that somewhere…
–Sean Kemmerer is a freelance writer, administrator of Politics Without The Crazy Pills , and ate meat on Friday because if bacon is the reason he doesn’t get to Heaven, he doesn’t want to go, anyway.