The Current Tone of the Gay Marriage Dialogue

“What’s your view of gay marriage”? “Well, I think if you love somebody you shouldgay marriage simply be able to marry them – “what’s your opinion”? “Who loves whom is none of my business but redefining marriage for same sex unions is a really complex issue and …..” Hmmm, I never took you for a bigot”.

That’s about how it goes. I know. I’ve tried many, many times.

It is virtually impossible to have a thoughtful hearing on this issue without it going emotionally off the tracks before the end of  opening arguments.  And that is the first problem.

    “Those who demand the most tolerance from others typically exhibit the least tolerance in return”Basicman’s Axiom of Life #6

Lost in the mine field of civil rights, fairness, moral equivalencies, and human decency are inconvenient items such as cultural opinion, democratic process, Constitutional considerations and how states rights plays a determining factor in the bigger picture. The person that approaches this issue while keeping all these items in play is doomed to a frustrating (and usually very short and heated) debate from the ‘I want it and I want it now’ crowd. Until the proponents of gay marriage become comfortable talking about this issue in concert with all the aforementioned social and legal appendages that accompany it and curb their hair trigger to fire off words like homophobe, bigot, and hater; rational discourse will never happen. Who in their right mind will embrace a thoughtful conversation after receiving such a label?

Regrettably, this tone won’t get any less shrill now that Barack Obama has donned the Newsweek halo signifying ascendency as the First Gay President. His sycophants 1336958534653_cachedslobber in admiration for this act of political (calculation) bravery expecting that now, finally, President Obama will lead them to what they want. He won’t, he can’t and they can’t grasp why not. And that is the second problem.

When I have attempted to broach this topic with bright, educated supporters of gay marriage and the subject of the Constitution and the role it plays in how our society lives and interacts – there is a perceptible disconnect between what they think it says and what it actually provides. There is only sparse, if any knowledge of the Founders original intent and those early intense debates about states’ rights in a Federalist system. Without this knowledge is little understanding of how the Tenth Amendment  relates to gay marriage.

The Founders debated at length how to deal morally and politically with the equality of all humans in the context of slavery. Regrettably, they all went to their grave knowing they failed in this regard. It is highly doubtful however that Adams, Franklin, Jay, Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton, and  Washington talked much about men marrying men or women marrying women, let alone in terms of equality and fairness as they cobbled together the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Therein lies their genius in establishing the Tenth Amendment and the idea that  “powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The Tenth Amendment provides for the State of Nevada to allow prostitution in 11 of it’s counties while it is illegal throughout the rest of the United States. What’s okay in Nevada isn’t necessarily okay in California because the people of these states say so. Today, thirty one states have a constitutional ban restricting marriage to one man and one woman. Fourteen additional states have laws that limit marriage to one man and one woman (no constitutional wording that bans it). Only Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and Washington, DC allow gay marriage.

This is the bottom line of the current debate; the one which I never seem to get to in my efforts to have a dialogue on the issue – The people of a each state get to decide; not President Obama, not Congress, not the Supreme Court (yet).

The discussion actually illuminates a monumental failure of our education system when a large segment of our society educated at or beyond the college level doesn’t understand how our republic actually operates. Until such time as states apply their Tenth Amendment rights, as North Carolina did a few weeks ago, it would be great to tone down the ideological rhetoric and feckless name calling  which substitutes these days for substantive dialogue on a tough issue.


9 Responses

  1. But Scott, those same states in the past told us it was not allowed in the state for a black person to marry a white person. Do we not see that as a fundamental right. Just because the state sanctions denying a right does not make it right to do so. The “leave it to the states to decide) approach suggest a way of denying minority rights under the auspices of states rights.

    That said, how are your legs?


  2. “The people of a each state get to decide; not President Obama, not Congress, not the Supreme Court (yet).”

    The problem is that we don’t believe that should be the case, any more than the people of each state get to decide if interracial couples can get married, or non-religious couples can get married.

  3. Dear notascientist,
    fair comment. you’re not the first to bring up a moral equivalency with exogamy/miscegenamy … you lost me on your second point however in regard to the content of your second sentence >>> I’m not sure who “we” are, but not liking the idea of states having the right to make decisions not reserved for the federal government is the way the system works currently .. of course you know the interracial marriage issue was settled by the Supreme Court 45 years ago and marriage outside of one’s religion has never been a legal issue in the US, state or federal … something many of the Arab countries could learn from.
    cheers, BasicMan

  4. Dad,
    If I didn’t know and love the author of this piece I’d swear he or she were cold, cynical and condescending. Don’t forget you’re talking about people’s lives and their unique (although different from yours) pursuits of happiness.
    – your slobbering Obama sycophant son

  5. In the name of Full Disclosure: I may be more prejudiced againt “The Right” than any other grouping of men and women. I pray that my heart will reamain open but people like Rush Limbaugh seem just plain mean to me.I am no Obama sycophant but I am an unabashed and proud Liberal spawned of a pair of New Deal Democrats. My mother always said she “voted for the man and not the party” but I’d bet the farm that the man or woman was never a Republican. I am 100% in support of Same Gender Marriage and turn a deaf ear to any argument that is based on any religion or the bible.
    That having been said I’ll tell you I am deeply impressed by a Conservative who has raced in San Francisco for an AIDS cure and who seems to know that his heart bests his politics. My prejudice will, with the help of God, should never separate me from another caring human being.

    Truly glad to know you, dear Scott.

  6. I wish I’d proofread this before posting but I stand by my statement syntax and spelling errors notwithstanding.

  7. Thanks for reading Sydney … We are politically far apart but not out of touch … In much the same way that you have a distaste for Rush L. I found myself in the same predicament with Rachel M., Charles S., Dylan R., EJ Dionne, etc, But their opinions are important and compel listening to … and so I did and continue to do so … While Disagreeing with just about everything they say … But their thoughts remain important in the ‘arena of ideas’ where dialogue and learning take place… As you may guess spiritual teachings and the Bible do play a significant role in my thought process. If I were to rely on my own understanding and knowledge without any foundation – or simply take what the guy on the street or n author or a scholar of questionable merit and use it as a pretext for my beliefs I put myself on the slippery slope of human fallibility … With these things in mind I would submit I have become who I am today by reason of Not shutting the door to those I neither like or find agreement and supplement my own knowledge with things that transcend our culture. All the best to you, one day we”ll meet. 1st round is on me.
    BTW, your friend stayed with me all the way to LA … I enjoyed his company.


  8. Which friend stayed with you all the way to LA? Francis of Assisi?
    I look forward to that 1st round and I’m a cheap date. I’ve been clean and sober for 24 yeras with the help of a Power Greater than Myself and spiritual teachings.

  9. My Point of View/Your Point of View is a dialogue one seldom hears anymore and it requires a discipline in which I am woefully out of practice. I’m convinced the only way my head will clear enough for me to become pure of heart, which is the point after all, is to stop listening to the talking heads altogether. I have done it for a week here, two weeks there and felt a goodly amount more free but this junky has, thus far, been sucked back in. I’ll keep praying on that.
    So much love to Patty. I found her to be a palpable, beautiful and gifted force of nature.

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