Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Gay Marriage Debate...Part Two

I start part two of this gay marriage discussion by providing a link to a similar debate I had with myself last May during the Presidential campaign, just to prove to you that I have given my views on this topic a lot of thought. I have never lost sight of the very real possibility that I could be wrong on much of this. However, rereading the post from almost a year ago does remind me of just how contentious an issue this is.

One thing that I've noticed is that people have a very difficult time separating the legal issues of gay marriage from the religious issues of gay marriage. Some think it is impossible to do. I disagree. To me they are two entirely different discussions which I explain in relative detail in the above blog post. to illustrate this point I will bring up an argument that I hear all the time that baffles me, to wit, if gay marriage is elevated to legal equality with traditional marriage it will somehow devalue the institution of marriage. In my opinion, this is a misunderstanding of the marriage vows. When Pam and I got married, I stood at the front of a church and recited my vow to her in front of God and man. As I recall, no representative of the government was present. All the benefits that I receive from the tax code etc.. and all other approvals that flow my way for being legally married are a function of law. But my vows were not made to the state, they were made to my beloved and God. So, how can the fact that two gay people happen to get married down the street alter the sanctity or the holiness of MY vows? I believe this to be a specious argument.

So the question then becomes, if the sanctity and by extension the holiness of the marriage covenant comes from it's religious underpinnings, how can we make an argument that gay people should not be able to be married under the LAW? What does the one have to do with the other? My marriage isn't made sacred because I get to file a joint tax return, it is sacred because it is a holy institution to start with. I can find no compelling reason to deny gay people the right to marry that doesn't begin and end with religious conviction. I have plenty of them, as I explain in the above referenced blog, but as a purely legal matter, I suppose I have come to the point where I can find no reasonable objection.

The one thing that gay and straight people have in common is the fact that we are both sinners. As a result, I believe that gay people will have just as difficult a time as straight folks have had honoring those wedding vows.

The hardest part of this issue for me is how do we move forward? How do the two sides of this come to an understanding that allows us to live together in peace without all of the bitterness and acrimony? Maybe the kids were on to something all along, we need to learn how to love each other despite our differences, to overcome the heat and fury of this debate will require superhuman effort. Both sides of these barricades are manned by human beings with beating hearts. To paraphrase Shakespeare, if you cut them, do they not bleed? Surely we have more in common than the issues that divide us, right?