This post was originally part of My Obama Year project and posted in January of 2013. I’m reposting it here so you all don’t get bored while I’m gone.
In just a minute I’m going to talk about a “big” issue that I’ve got some questions about but first I’d like to talk to you about a friend of mine who I’ll call “Bob” because if you’re going to use fake names, why bother being too creative with them?
Bob hired me for a job where I worked for almost five years and he rates among the best bosses I’ve ever had. Bob is a considerate guy with a big heart who treated me to countless lunches because he knew I couldn’t afford to eat out when the rest of the office went. When my daughter was born six weeks early and didn’t tolerate the cheaper types of baby formula it was Bob who showed up with a grocery bag full of formula cans and told me that he and his lovely wife of five years, Linda (a pediatric nurse), wanted to make sure my new baby was taken care of. Bob and Linda are wonderful people. You’ll never meet finer.
Now is the point in the story where I admit that I’ve led you astray with one tiny little detail. Bob’s wife isn’t named Linda. He’s actually named Louis and even though they wear wedding rings and share a house, two dogs, and a pickup truck they’re not legally married because the state of Georgia doesn’t go in for that kind of thing. They can’t even get a civil union.
So here’s the big question: how would Bob and Louis being legally married change anything? Would matrimony suddenly stop them from being nice neighbors and good people? If the issue for Catholics and evangelical Christians is sex then is gay sex somehow more wrong when married people do it? I’ve heard all of the reasons to keep same sex marriage illegal for years but the my Obama Year gives me the freedom to take a step back and realize just as the President has that I just don’t believe them any more.
When I started this post I had originally written out a long list of detailed reasons why I really don’t worry any more about gay people getting married (and reasons I really don’t think you do either) but I’ve decided to simply put down the some of the big questions surrounding the issue so we can have a conversation about it in the comments section.
My questions are:
1. Does the US Government exist to enforce the views any specific religion? If so, should that religion try to make laws to enforce EVERY view a particular church holds?
2. Is marriage just a church thing? Would you still oppose same sex marriage if you were certain your church would never have to perform one if they didn’t want to?
3. If certain religious views are correct that gay sex is a sin, does having married gay sex make it more sinful?
4. If we want to save “traditional marriage” is it more important to prevent same-sex couples from getting married or encouraging the rest of the population to get married in the first place?
5. Why have I never received a newsletter from a Christian right-wing group about homelessness, child abuse, poverty, or racism but I have received several about the “attack” marriage? Why does this issue seem to trump so many others?
6. If God really was sitting in heaven just waiting for the big fat gay wedding line to be crossed before pouring out the fire and brimstone on nations then why are Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden not smoking craters by now?
7. Last and most important of all: can you explain to me how my friends Bob and Louis getting married will hurt you personally? Can you tell me where it hurts anybody at all?
Bonus Question: If you’re a conservative who feels they have really good answers for all of the above then can you tell me on a strictly pragmatic level what the upside is to the fight against same-sex marriage that is making conservatives look mean, petty, and stuck in the past? Is it worth the cost of turning off voters to your more important ideas to keep fighting about this one?
There are some things the left and right will perpetually fight over but I honestly don’t think this needs to be one of them. Can we take the time to do some radical listening? I think we can.