Let’s agree not to legislate sin.

I recently stumbled across this blog post from The Atlantic, posted in April of last year, in which a young woman explains her position opposing gay marriage. I always appreciate reading opposing points of view that are written thoughtfully, and I have to commend this young woman for sharing her perspective.  And now I’d like to explain why she’s wrong.

Everyone in the whole world has sinned

The center of her argument is that she believes that homosexuality is a sin as defined in the Bible; but where others stop there, she does go further and acknowledge that even believing that homosexuality is a sin doesn’t mean that she believes that gay people are evil or bad.  Everyone is a sinner.

My belief is that sin is anything that goes against God’s design and His rules. People who don’t believe in sin obviously do not see anything wrong with homosexual behavior and they don’t know why people like me speak out against it, so their reasoning is that what I say must come from hatred.

But if I hated all sinners, I’d hate myself.

There are lots of sins that exist, and in fact, everyone in the whole world has sinned.

I have no interest in making an argument whether or not the Christian Bible does define homosexuality as a sin, although there are certainly a large number of Christians who would happily engage in

that debate.  My obvious issue is that the Christian Bible does not define my legal rights.

Do you really wanto start legislating sin?

yay-10050992If you really want to start legislating sin, let’s start with the Ten Commandments.  Let’s make it illegal to work on Sunday, to curse (or if you want to be more literal, specifically taking the Lord’s name in vain), or to commit adultery.  Should you have to pay a fine if you are jealous of your neighbor’s boat?  When you are mean to your mother, you spend a couple of nights in lock-up.

That all seems ridiculous, of course.  Even for Christians, sin is a part of life.  Some sins are also crimes, but there are a lot of sins that we know we’re going to end up committing from time to time – and we don’t expect to be arrested, fined or censored for them.

We legislate to protect citizens against acts that damage our society and hurt other people.  Gay marriage hurts no one.

Is it really just semantics?

The young woman in that original blog post did say that she wasn’t sure if maybe government shouldn’t just get out of marriage entirely.  I could argue that no one should be legally “married”, but all couples have a right to a legal commitment that is equal for hetero and homosexual couples.  However, a lot of members of the gay community feel strongly about that word “marriage”.

If it comes down to definitions, can we agree that we define words differently in a biblical sense than in a secular sense?  When you watch American Idol, are you really worshipping a false God?

In the end, if all individuals who are against gay marriage were as well meaning and well reasoned as this young woman, we could have a reasoned discussion and almost certainly end up on common, equal footing.

Mawwiage, that bwessed awwangement: Opposing the Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage

I just spent 15 minutes of my life searching the internet for any well-written, non-religious arguments opposing same-sex marriage.  That’s 15 minutes of my life I’ve wasted and I’m never getting back.

I am undoubtedly more passionate about the subject of marriage equality than I am about any other social or political issue.  I’ve been writing about the issue – at least privately – since I was in junior high school.  And as I’m writing this blog post right now, I have to wonder why I’m bothering at all.  Are there people on the fence on the topic of marriage equality?  Is there someone out there who needs to be convinced with my impassioned argument?  Are there individuals in opposition of marriage equality who hold a rational opinion on the subject that I can refute?

These aren’t rhetorical questions.  While the tides are turning and those opposing equality are beginning to fall into the minority, there does still exist a very large percentage of Americans who believe that a same-sex couple should not be permitted to be married in a civil ceremony.  But why?

The Biblical Argument

There is no question that the vast majority of same sex marriage opponents will cite a religious argument or biblical argument.  “The Bible says that it is wrong.”  “The ‘Church’ defines marriage as between a man and a woman.”

If I were so inclined, I could reference the counter-argument to any biblical references with those passages that are obviously not followed to the same letter and literal translation as biblical references to “man lying with another man”.  (That’s in quotes, but I’m paraphrasing.)  We’ve all heard the counter-argument.  There are plenty of Christians and others devout in their faith who would also happily counter this and argue for equality.

Regardless of any biblical counterargument, the fact remains that a religious opposition to same sex marriage is an invalid argument in a civil, secular debate.  So let me be clear on how I see this:

1.) Your religion does not dictate my civil rights.  Full stop.  End of story.

2.) No one is suggesting that your church should be required to marry or recognize the marriage of a same-sex couple.

The “Definition of Marriage” Argument

Aside from biblical definitions, there are those who will argue that “marriage” is defined as being between a man and a woman.  (I’d argue that the definition is out-dated, but that’s not relevant here.)  If this were truly the crux of the argument, then a viable compromise is to remove the word “marriage” from all civil unions.  Marriage would no longer be a civil institution, as it’s definition is discriminatory.  All couples wishing to enter into a legal agreement that comes with obligations and rights would sign a civil union agreement, which would come with equal rights for all couples.

Suggest this to someone who opposes marriage equality, though, and they’ll likely insist that marriage and civil unions are not the same.  That the word “marriage” means too much – so much more than a civil union – and they don’t want to be denied the opportunity to be married in the eyes of the law.  To which I would say, yes.  I agree.  No one likes to be denied their human rights.

The “Next Thing You Know, We’ll Be Marrying Goats” Argument

I don’t even want to recognize this by giving it space in this blog post, but it’s out there.  There are really groups of people who think this is somehow the natural progression of same-sex marriage.  We’re talking about committed, homosexual relationships between two consenting adult humans – the same type of relationship that has existed since the beginning of time, with varying levels of openness in civilization throughout history.

Granting equal rights to same-sex couples is not a “slippery slope” to anything other than an increase in legal revenue for same-sex divorce.

The “Children Need a Mother and a Father Argument”

First of all, we’re talking about marriage and not raising a family – and yet the argument is still made in opposition to same-sex marriage.  Second of all, children need parental love.  From wherever that might come.

Point me to a “study” that has been done that shows how children from heterosexual, married couples are better students/athletes/people than other kids – and I’ll show you a study full of bias.  Do children in two parent homes perform better in school?  Quite possibly, as they are more likely to live above the poverty line, attend good schools, get three healthy meals a day and have at least one parent who has time to be available in the evenings.  No studies (that have not been soundly and widely renounced as biased and unscientific) have shown a significant difference in the performance of children growing up in a stable home with heterosexual parents versus children from a stable home with homosexual parents.

The “States’ Rights” Argument

Okay.  I guess.  My opinion on Federal versus States’ rights not withstanding, the fact remains that same-sex couples should have the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples – whether those rights are granted by the Federal Government or the State Government.  But since there are federal tax implications and other advantages of marriage, the ability to marry must be dictated at the Federal level.  If you want to argue that we should erase those Federal benefits for all married couples, I’m willing to entertain the States’ Rights argument.  (I’d still argue for equality in each individual state, of course.)