April 20, 2009 by D Stack
I first encountered the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) video while it was being satirized on last Thursday’s Colbert report. The satire made me laugh out loud. Heck the ad makes me chuckle except for its agenda.
I’m a happily married heterosexual Roman Catholic. Our marriage has its stresses, but one of those is not living in Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2004.
To be honest, I was initially somewhat hesitant when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health. Not because of its outcome but out of concern for judicial overreach, in that it instructed the legislator to authorize same-sex marriages. It seemed to me that the proper course of action would have been to strike down current marriage laws in Massachusetts as unconstitutional, possibly with a stay of enforcement to avoid chaos and give the legislature time to remedy the situation. That said, I agreed with the sentiment of the outcome and the whole point of both state and federal supreme courts is to have an entiry capable of final judicial decisions. And, while I am an admirer of the law, I am not a lawyer, just an educated layman.
My personal experience with the law has been benign. The few same-sex couples I’ve known have been, well, kinda mundane. They pretty much remind me of the heterosexual couples I know. Not that I know a lot of couples of either orientation: I have two kids and don’t get out nearly as much as I did pre-kids. And my idea of socializing is Dungeons & Dragons night. (And even in that for a while our group had a lesbian member.) A few years ago my daughter was friends with kids with two fathers and the parents-children relationship in that family seemed as normal and loving as any other family I know.
I’ve heard the arguments against same-sex marriage. That we recognize marriage as the sacred bond between a man and a woman. But there’s a problematic word. Sacred. That is a function of the spiritual side of the world. The First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” Allowing spiritual concerns to interfere with civil marriage would violate that amendment. If the government were to force churches to perform same-sex marriages that too would be a violation of that amendment.
I’ve also heard that marriage is for procreation. Except, by law, it has never been recognized as such. We allow sterile couples to marry. We allow elderly couples to marry.
What about the example it sets for our children? Must we teach them to approve of same-sex marriage? Especially in schools? Well, to be honest, we need to teach our kids lots of things we as parents don’t always agree with because they exist. Schools teach about the world as it is. My Catholic high school taught me about all sorts of religion, both in history and religion classes. And never were bad things said about those other religions. They were never even referred to as wrong. We learned about Zoroastrianism in world history when studying antiquity. We learned about Judaism and Islam in both religion and history classes. And we were taught to respect them. In other words, we learned about the world as it is. And was. And there are gay people in the world. Of course our kids should learn to tolerate them. Once my 1st grade daughter asked me if the beliefs of her Hindu classmates were “wrong”. I explained they believed differently than we did but that didn’t mean we could disrespect their beliefs and I gave her a first grade analogy of a bunch of blind men coming across an elephant and each identifying it differently. Just like how her classmates with two dads came from a different background from her.
Why can’t they be satisfied with civil unions? Actually, I’d be fine with this if that were the only type of union available to anyone. But it’s not. If marriage is the recognized civil union for a couple, then forbidding it to some is discrimination.
What about letting same-sex couples adopt kids? Think of the harm to the kids. I’ve yet to see a reputable study pointing to any harm.
I’ll close with a pair of videos that I think are excellent responses to the same-sex marriage debate. The first is Stephen Colbert’s spoofing of the NOM ad. It’s a long sequence but quite amusing. The second is a personal response to the ad from Sean Chapin, somewhat tongue-in-cheek while being sincere. Sean has a MoreEqualUnion website dedicated toa concept album he is working on about LGBT civil rights.
Vodpod videos no longer available.