The Anonymous Liberal has an interesting post up entitled Being a “Public Christian” in which he slams Rod Dreher for his post in which he quotes a lawyer friend as saying “as soon as homosexuality receives constitutionally protected status equivalent to race, then ‘it will be very hard to be a public Christian.'”
AL’s main thrust is this point:
Dreher is lamenting the fact that as the law progresses toward recognizing the rights of homosexual people, it will become increasingly hard to be publicly intolerant of homosexuality.
What of it? Individuals and society as a whole have always judged behavior, rewarding the good and punishing the bad. And they always will. That’s what people do – we are judgment-making, discriminating creatures and no mere legal construct will change that fundamental fact of our existence.
The question is simply one of who gets the most say in defining what society’s norms are, the people in the society, its elected representatives, or the judiciary who are the final arbiters of right and wrong?
AL makes a good point in discussing what the public face of Christianity ought to be. Being Christian is not primarily about being against homosexuality, any more than it’s about being against abortion or for the death penalty. Mobilization on these issues is a side effect of the religion itself, a defensive reaction to the social agendas of liberal change agents. These issues become politicized because the changes sought by left-wing fringe groups are fundamentally incompatible with Christian values and politics is the arena in which such disputes are settled.
That is one reason why the gay marriage debate is framed by supporters as a no-lose scenario in which homosexual couples are granted the privilege of legal marriage at no cost to traditional marriage. Only a bigoted religious nut would refuse gays the right to wed if there is no downside to married couples and zealots have no political credibility.
If you believe the no-lose explanation, I challenge you to take a poll of woman asking if their relationships with her husbands are equivalent to those of homosexual men. Do so and you’ll quickly figure out what the answer is a resounding “No” for the vast majority of women world-wide. To them, gay marriage demeans their own marriages by pegging their worth to an unacceptably base standard.
Similarly, the idea put forth by gay rights advocates and embraced by the Iowa Supreme Court that gays’ fundamental rights are being violated and that they are entitled to equal protection in respect to marriage is a ridiculous contortion of the law. Perhaps it’s a legal overreaction to the equally ludicrous sodomy laws of the past. If so, two wrongs don’t make a right, pun intended.
Neither does wanting to call homosexual relationships marriages turn that desire into a right. Thousands of years of human history is on the side of the heterosexual definition of the word. Indeed, the human race obviously depends on traditional marriage as both the means of reproduction and as a bulwark against radicalized societies (what we have already is bad enough). Technological advances such as artificial insemination only serve to underscore the correctness of the traditional arrangement.
In fact, marriage is not a basic right, despite AL’s claim to the moral high ground. Free association is a basic right, whereas marriage is the socially desirable union of a man and a woman. The two are not the same and the former is already guaranteed.
Finally, AL claims that supporters of traditional marriage are now a shrinking minority. This is also obviously false, as demonstrated by Prop 8’s passage in California, one of the most liberal states in the nation, if not the most liberal.
The law is a tool of discrimination and behavior control that exists for the benefit of the society in which it was formed. The idea that it’s anything else is the result of failed understanding or active denial on the part of those who seek to use it for their own purposes.
When gay marriage is demonstrably acceptable to a majority of citizens in a state – i.e., the issue passes a popular vote and the subsequent legal challenges – then gay marriage can be considered a fundamental right there, just as other rights of behavior are defined by popular and representative assent. Until then, no.
All of this said, gay couples do deserve some relief in terms of their sometimes precarious legal situations relating to assignment of health care benefits, inheritance of property, etc. That the legal debate is not focused on these fundamental legal issues indicates that gay rights activists are intent on shoving their cause and way of life into mainstream society, regardless of the consequences.