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.


eViL pOp TaRt said...

In general, people are less comfortable when the issue of "they're having sex" is made obvious, whether by straight or gay couples. It's a bad approach to flaunt overtly gay behaviors in front of others. In a way, society is naturally disposed to go along with a "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

There's a tendency to reduce marriage to an issue of property rights, It should be much more than that.

The Bastard King of England said...

Maybe societies' tendency to make marriage a special or sacred state is part of the problem. Why not have voluntary unions or partnerships, whether straight or gay? Then it reduces to a voluntary choice as to who to affiliate with.

Chrissy said...

Wow. I don't know where to start on this.

Duckbutt said...

This is an issue that may possibly have the effect of haunting both parties.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

The Democrats are trying to keep their base happy, and the big donators in SF and SM.

John said...

Well said, Bilbo!

I always feel that these endorsements are counter-productive. While they may have a way of affirming their positions, they don't really stand to gain support by making it a platform issue and they do stand to lose some potential moderates that this is a key issue to.

Mike said...

I was just reading something recently about all the legal hoops LGBT people have to jump through to get the same rights as straight people do by just getting married. I think it is the legal aspect of things driving the marriage issue.

Gilahi said...

A very well-written and obviously well thought-out opinion piece. I do appreciate the fact that you admit that it's your own discomfort as much as anything that causes you to feel this way.

And, as you and I have so often experienced in the past, I completely disagree with you. There is more and more evidence that heterosexuality and homosexuality are biological phenomena, and are in no way a "choice" as so many people like to say. While it's true that we could legislate a civil union that would give all of the rights to a gay couple that the rest of us have, it's still separating a group that does no harm to anyone, based on nothing more than peoples' opinions of them. They can ride the bus, they just have to sit in the back.

Separate but equal is not equal.