Friday, October 29, 2010

Gay Marriage: My Thoughts

Recently, a friend asked me for my thoughts on the issue of gay marriage to help her with a paper she was writing for school.  I kind of liked what I sent her so I thought I would include it here as well.

(I haven't finely edited any of this.  It was written pretty much stream of thought as the words came to me, so don't critique my writing.  Also, I am not posting this to draw in debate or criticism of my personal beliefs.  If you want to argue, keep it to yourself. As always, I will select which comments to publish or reject.)

My opinion pretty much spans the board.  I can see both sides of the issue, and I try to respect and understand both sides.  What I personally feel is right, and what I think would be best are a bit different also.
The short answer is that I support traditional marriage.  I agree that marriage should be defined as only between one man and one woman.  Marriage is an institution for the purpose of bearing and raising children, which is only possible between men and women.  These are my personal beliefs and values.
On the other hand, I also support the rights of people to love and be with whomever they choose, gay or straight.  So I don't feel that all people should be held to the ideals and standards that I personally agree with.  There is room in this world for all walks of life.
Regarding homosexual marriage, it seems as though all the arguments are focusing on "rights".  Marriage is not a right. Marriage is an institution, a legal arrangement, a social convention, but it is most definitely not a right.  Gays and straights currently have the exact same rights as each other regarding issues of love and marriage.  Gays are free to love anyone they choose, the same as a straight person, and gays are also free to marry someone of the opposite gender, the same as a straight person.
The issues arisewhen you define "rights" as the legal ability to marry the person you fall in love with.  In this sense, gays are limited.  This is not a human rights issue, or a question of prejudice; homosexuals are looking for the creation of new rights or privileges specific to them, which do not presently exist.
I think it should be allowed for people to legally bind themselves to whomever they choose, regardless of gender, for living arrangements, financial decisions, medical decisions, and other legal issues which must be deferred to "next of kin".  Obviously this situation would legally resemble a marriage.  So my feeling is that eventually gay marriage, in one form or another, will become legal in the states, and eventually encompass the nation.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be called a marriage, it could be called a civil union or whatever.  I don’t see a problem with homosexuals being given the same legal rights with their partners as married men and women are given.
I have stronger feelings about homosexuals being allowed to adopt children.Homosexuals choose to enter into a relationship which cannot naturally produce a child, and I feel that they need to take responsibility for this decision and accept all the consequences associated with it.  Not having children is one of those natural consequences.  This is not the same thing as a straight couple choosing to get married even though one of them is medically incapable of having children.  Their situation is limited by injury, or biological defect, not a fundamental inability to reproduce.
On a side note, I also feel that single people should not be allowed to adopt for the same reason.  I feel strongly that adopted children have a right to be raised in a natural and traditional family situation.
The problem with this opinion is that it is unenforceable.  There will undoubtedly be many legal situations where the only possible and responsible solution is to grant custody to a gay parent.  My opinion is based on an ideal.
As I said, I have to separate my opinions from what I think is actually practical.
The issue of religion and marriage is, to me, a completely null issue and not worth debating.  I think that churches can, and should, set moral standards and requirements for their congregations.  I don’t see any problem with gay marriage being legal in the nation, but not allowed by certain churches. 
Homosexuals have freedom of religion just like everyone else in this country, so they can choose to belong to a church that does not allow gay marriage, or sexual activity outside of marriage, just the same as they can choose to be part of a church that allows both of those things.  They can also choose no religion if they want.
If a homosexual does choose to be part of a church which does not condone homosexual behavior, then they need to be prepared to live by the standards set forth by that church.  It is their choice, no one is forcing them to be part of it.
Also, it should not be seen as prejudice or bigotry when churches choose not to allow homosexuals into their congregations; this is an issue of morals.  Whenever moral standards get involved, you have to allow people the freedom to follow what they feel is right.  Part of living in this world is learning to get along with people who have different values than  you do.
There are many examples of things which are legal, but not allowed in certain faiths.  Blood transfusions are legal, but not allowed by Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Smoking and drinking are legal, but not allowed for faithful Latter Day Saints.  Eating pork is legal, but not allowed by Judaism or Islam.  Eating beef is perfectly normal for most people, but unholy for Hindus.  These are all moral issues, and homosexuality is no different.  Legalizing gay marriage would not affect the moral standards of any church.  Furthermore, homosexuals should not accuse people of being bigoted for disapproving of a behavior which is perceived to be immoral.
Protests demanding that a certain church change their doctrines to be more inclusive of behavior which they feel is immoral is completely unrealistic, unacceptable, a waste of time, and quite frankly stupid.  Individuals have no right to expect a religious organization to change its fundamental doctrines or teachings to suit the desires of a public minority.  Even if it weren't a minority issue, churches should not alter their teachings or practices to conform to popular demands, especially if the demands are for the acceptance of immoral behavior.  They are separate entities not governed by state or popular opinion and can follow whatever principles or values that they deem appropriate.
Finally, people should not be surprised when religious values influence the way people vote.  People vote according to their own conscience, which is naturally a product of their personal beliefs and morals.  It should be obvious that how a person votes will be significantly influenced by their chosen religion.  Religious leaders are free to encourage their congregations to vote a particular way, if that is what they think is appropriate.
Protesting the religious influence on a voting issue is absolutely ridiculous.  Let all people vote according to their own values, and the majority decision should rule.
I don't understand why there is so much conflict over such a minor issue.  The potential legalization of gay marriage will have no influence on the moral standards of people, or religious organizations, and denying gay marriage will not oppress the rights of the gay community.  They will still have all the same rights as any other person in this country.  Personally, I don't care what ends up happening, but I put my support behind traditional marriage.


Kendra said...

i can definitely see what you're saying. it is crazy how much this has become a debate, don't you think? I definitely stand behind the LDS church but that doesn't mean I hate people who have different beliefs or values. anyway, check out this blog. it is really interesting. i'm giving you the link to his most popular post but all of them are really insightful on the subject.

Robin said...

Well said.
I don't think I would call it a minor issue though...I think it's sort of a big deal, but like you said, inevitable.