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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Just One Good Reason

Here's a question that's both timely and informative; "Do you approve or disapprove of California allowing homosexuals to marry members of their own sex?" That question was asked of 1,052 California voters and their answers may spell bad news for opponents of same sex marriage in that state. 51% approved and only 42% disapproved.

Californians are now enjoying the fruits of marriage equality in their state, after a state Supreme Court ruling found that a ban on the issuing of licenses to same sex couples was unconstitutional. Writing for Slate, Yale Law professor Kenji Yoshino manages to explain the ruling in one paragraph:

Writing for the California high court, Chief Justice Ronald M. George first found that the exclusion of gays from marriage violated their fundamental right to marry, thereby drawing strict scrutiny from the court. This meant that the state would have to produce a compelling reason to bar gays from what the court deemed "the most socially productive and individually fulfilling relationship that one can enjoy in the course of a lifetime." In a crucial move, Chief Justice George rejected the state's argument that tradition was such a reason. Allowing tradition to thus entrench itself, he said, would have allowed for laws barring interracial couples. And, as he noted, the California Supreme Court struck down a ban on interracial marriage in 1948, almost two decades before the U.S. Supreme Court did in Loving v. Virginia.

Basically, the court found that there was no reason for same sex marriage to be illegal. It's a law that serves no purpose, other than to discriminate.

Which brings us to a second timely and informative question -- why should same sex marriage be illegal?

Turns out the finest legal minds the State of California could provide couldn't come up with a reason. For the life of me, I can't either. Some of the arguments don't make any sense. To no one's surprise, former Pennsylvania Senator and professional holier-than-thou idiot Rick Santorum made one of these nonsensical arguments.

"Look at Norway. It began allowing same-sex marriage in the 1990s," he wrote in the Philadelphia Inquirer. "In just the last decade, its heterosexual-marriage rates have nose-dived and its out-of-wedlock birthrate skyrocketed to 80 percent for firstborn children. Too bad for those kids who probably won’t have a dad around, but we can’t let the welfare of children stand in the way of social affirmation, can we?"

Unfortunately for Rick, pretty much none of that is true. The Center for American Progress tells us, "Norway began allowing same-sex civil unions in 1993. But according to M.V. Lee Badgett, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, Norway’s 'big surge' in the nonmarital birth rate occurred in the 1980s, jumping from 16 percent to 39 percent. In the decade after Norway authorized civil unions, the nonmarital birth rate rose only 'slightly,' and then, 'after a couple of years, leveled off at 50 percent.' These rates are similar to those in countries without such laws."

Of course, the fact that Santorum's lying shouldn't surprise anyone. One, he's a well-known liar and, two, his story doesn't make any damned sense at all. Maybe Rick didn't get the memo -- we can be pretty sure he skipped out on sex ed in school -- but gay couples don't produce children, married or not. Not that they can't, it's just that most don't, preferring adoption or already having kids from previous marriages. Most of these kids Rick's made up would come from heterosexuals. Why would same sex marriage result in fewer marriages? That's the kernel of the argument and it doesn't make any sense. Rick tries to give a good reason why it should be illegal, but fails miserably by resorting to lies.

Another attempt at a good reason for a ban comes from John Stemberger of Florida's which, confusingly, takes the No2Marriage position. In an email to supporters, Stemberger writes (emphasis his):

The innocent-sounding idea of gay marriage has wide spread and far reaching consequences to the transformation of law, culture and society. When marriage is legally redefined, it simultaneously changes thousands of other laws. Marriage license forms will issued to “Party A and Party B.” The words “husband and wife” will be removed and replaced with “partners.” The words “Father and Mother” will become outdated terms. Every aspect of the law is gender-neutered. Laws which reflected the reality of human femininity and masculinity will be erased. Further, public school curriculum and textbooks will be transformed to model homosexual families. In order to avoid lawsuits for discrimination, public schools will begin to teach homosexual behavior as the moral, social and legal equivalent of marriage between a man and a woman. Listen to this NPR radio interview on how public school teacher Deb Allen in Massachusetts teaches lesbian intercourse to eight grade students with models and charts HERE. I promise you that this nonsense will be coming to Florida at political light speed unless we all work hard to tell others to vote “Yes” on Amendment 2.

It's hard to know where to start. How will the terms "father" and "mother" become outdated? There's this thing called "medical science" and it talks about fathers and mothers. Unless we start reproducing exclusively by cloning, this is a crazy claim.

And Stemberger's sort of hoping you won't listen to that NPR interview. Deb Allen had been teaching about homosexual intercourse before Massachusetts legalized gay marriage. She's a sex ed teacher. The only real change is that she's more comfortable doing it now. How awful!

But the stupidest argument is that it'll force the state to change the wording on paperwork. Seriously, name a law that doesn't. If that's a good reason to ban same sex marriage, then it's a good reason to stop making law altogether. "Yeah, we'd love to make email scams illegal, but it'd be this whole big thing and we'd have to print new forms..." The laziness of the state print shop is a pretty lousy argument.

Other arguments are just as bad -- that it makes a "mockery" of straight marriages, that it encourages people to be gay, that gay people can't reproduce, etc. None of these are compelling reasons to deny marriage equality to homosexual couples. Other people's marriages have no effect on yours, gays don't need to be "encouraged" -- they're pretty much as gay as they're ever going to be regardless, and there are plenty of straight couples who can't reproduce. I have yet to hear anything approaching a logical argument against same sex marriage.

The final argument, the very last bastion of the bigoted, is that Jesus doesn't like it. My answer to that is that Jesus hasn't been elected to anything. When He becomes President Jesus or Congressman Jesus or Senator Jesus or even Governor Jesus, then we get to care what Jesus thinks. Until then, Jesus's opinion -- which many Christians argue would be pro-gay marriage anyway -- is irrelevant. We're a nation of laws, not Gods. Since I'm not a Christian myself, I could really care less what Jesus thinks about the law.

Maybe that's why California's new push to amend their constitution and ban same sex marriage is failing so far -- no one can think of just one good reason to do it. The only arguments in favor of the ban are irrational.

Given the opportunity to expand freedom, no one can think of a real reason not to.


Technorati tags: ; ; ; ; ; ; ; I keep looking for someone who has just one good reason to ban -- so far, I've come up empty