Sunday, August 12, 2012
The Democratic Platform Endorses Same-Sex Marriage
I originally wanted to use today's post to write about the Democratic Party's plans in the same way I wrote about those of Mitt Romney last Friday. I found that a bit hard to do, though, because the Obama-Biden reelection website (once you get past the first few screens which ask for money, as do virtually all political websites) doesn't put it's full plan out in a single-page document of bumper stickers like the Romney campaign did ... rather, it spreads everything out over multiple pages with more verbiage. This makes it more difficult to ferret out the actual meat for comment, and so it's going to take longer than I thought to present the same sort of analysis and commentary that I did last Friday. I'm working on it ... watch this space for the arrival.
In the meantime, I thought I'd write about something the Democrats have apparently decided to include in their platform: support for same-sex marriage.
You may want to step back from the computer while I write this, in case lightning should strike ... because I have to say, in all candor and honesty, that I do not support the idea of same-sex marriage. Of committed relationships between gay partners, fine ... but I don't think "marriage" is the right idea.
This has nothing to do with religious beliefs or with a desire to discriminate against anyone.
I'm just deeply uncomfortable on a personal level with the whole idea of homosexuality, being a resolutely heterosexual person myself*. Homosexuality challenges our core notions of identity in a way that race, religion, or national origin don't. This doesn't mean that I dislike gay persons ... you can't spend years in competitive ballroom dancing without being able to get along with people of all sexual orientations. And, though it probably sounds like the classic dodge, I do have a great many friends - many of whom I consider close friends - who are either openly or quietly gay. They are what they are, and I am what I am. We accept each other, like each other, and enjoy each other's company, even if I'm not comfortable with the basic idea of homosexuality.
Here's what I think: every one of us - male or female, gay or straight, of whatever race or religion - exists because at some point a man and a woman got together and combined their essences to create us. Even if take account of things like artificial or in-vitro fertilization in addition to the good old, time-tested method of baby-making, the simple fact remains that life is transmitted through the combination of male and female parts. If it were part of the Grand Plan that life should be transmitted through male-only or female-only combinations, it seems to me that nature would have made allowances for it. But it didn't.
As I've written here before, I think that a child grows up learning valuable lessons and examples from both a male and a female parent. This doesn't mean that a same-sex couple can't love a child ... just that I don't think they can provide the same balance of life lessons that a father and a mother can. You might argue that a lot of single parents raise normal children after the death of or divorce from their partners, and that there are a lot of children who grow up with parents who have dysfunctional relationships. This is all true, but I'm not sure it applies in the vast majority of families. And I still believe that - as a normal and general rule - a child is best raised by a father and a mother.
If marriage were about nothing more than guaranteeing the equality of spousal rights under the law, I don't think I'd have a problem with marriage being defined in any way we choose. But it's about more than that - it's about making and raising children which, as I believe, requires a mother and a father. I think that all the things gay couples want from the idea of marriage can be provided by a comprehensively-defined, legally-protected civil union (or whatever we choose to call it) which provides legal recognition and protection for the relationship without enraging social and religious conservatives any more than they're already been spun up.
Widespread acceptance of formal relationships - whatever we choose to call them - between gay couples won't be gained by lawsuits, having bearded fellows snogging each other in front of Chick-fil-A restaurants, or by Queer Pride parades at which the most extreme types of sexual behavior are flaunted. "Acceptance" will probably never equal "approval," but we can move forward by seeking ways to accomplish the ends we desire that don't involve poking each other in the eye with behavioral and legal sharp sticks.
My advice to the Democratic Party: drop the endorsement of same-sex marriage in favor of less inflammatory alternatives to accomplish the same end. It's not going to accomplish anything except to energize the conservative base and distract attention from issues which are of more importance to all Americans: things like fixing the economy (including job creation and the reduction of extreme economic inequality), improving education, and protecting the environment.
Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.
* In a world with women like Agnes, why would I be interested in a man? I'm just glad she's interested in me.