Saturday, April 28, 2007

Love Free or Die

All human civilizations hitherto have had some form of marriage, burial of the dead, and gods. To be excluded from these things, therefore, is to be excluded from human society in some very real way. It's easy to understand why gay couples want to be married.

To be honest, I don't know very many people who care a lot about gay marriage. My friends are all fine with the idea, and I find that, in general, younger people are fine with the idea of gays being married. Remember also that we live in Canada. Gay marriage has been legal here for nearly two years- it became legal the same week Claire and I got married ourselves- and, so far, society has not collapsed, God has not smited us, and nobody has been able to marry their dogs. In general, I think that countries such as ours will serve as proof that gay marriage is really not a big deal.

It might take time for people to accept it though. It's a bit like stepping into a swimming pool on the first day of summer- most people go in one toe at a time. But, I think that they'll come around eventually. The only people I know who are actually ''opposed'' to gay marriage are a few older relatives who are mostly upset about the nomenclature: they don't have a problem with gay couples having all of the same rights as married people; they just don't want to call it 'marriage'.

I realize that gay people want their relationships to be accepted and celebrated by society at large; but it might take a while for that to happen. Having 'civil unions' that include all of the legal rights and privileges associated with marriage seems like a logical compromise for the time being. This way the religious people can keep their marriages, and see if they collapse or whatever is supposed to happen, and we don't have to have laws in which the state gives preference to the religious practices of a particular faith. Not everyone would be happy, but for the time being, this would seem like a sane and fair compromise.

Therefore, it's bewildering that American Republicans are so adamantly opposed to any sort of compromise. New Hampshire has now passed a civil unions bill, making them the fourth state in the union to extend legal rights to gay and lesbian couples. Somewhat surprisingly, all of the Democratic Presidential candidates have come out in support of the bill, and all of the Republican Presidential candidates have come out in opposition to it. Rudy Guiliani apparently changed his mind about gay marriage, and pandering. And John McCain did the same. Andrew Sullivan notes- ''Remember that when the Republican leadership favored the Federal Marriage Amendment, they said they did not necessarily oppose civil unions. They were lying, of course.''

There's something really bizarre about this to me. I mean, fine, lie; but don't be so stupid about it! Republicans could easily paint themselves as the 'moderates' on the issue by supporting civil unions, but not marriages, and in turn argue that Democrats really want to force churches to perform marriages that make them uncomfortable. It wouldn't exactly be true. However, that's never stopped a politician. And yet, they've decided to paint themselves as the extremists, playing the same role as Democrats once played in relation to interracial marriage. Are they really so stupid?

And is there any way to compromise with the anti-gay marriage people? I mean, it's possible to keep an open mind and understand, on some level, their fears about losing the sanctity of marriage. But, here you have a state saying ''Fine, keep your sacred marriages. Just don't expect us to punish people that your church dislikes through unfair laws.'' And still that's not enough for them! They claim to care deeply about the institution of marriage, but really they just care about getting even with gay people for not living in the closet. And there's something about being so open in your irrational bigotries and counterproductive demands that just seems... well, stupid.

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