Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Religious justifications for government support of anti-SSM positions are not valid (and are not useful)

I am caught up in what's happening with how two issues of same-sex marriage (SSM) are being framed and argued before the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). I am also looking at how others in my Facebook are talking about the framing issue (taken mostly by the anti-SSM side).

One friend quoted another's position that using a Christian justification for maintaining an anti-SSM approach is not valid Constitutionally:
Why do we debate gay marriage? People against gay marriage cite religion. They are not for separation of church and state. They feel the state should be THEIR church, not someone else's, and thus gets to define marriage for everyone. We're lucky they are OK with Hindus getting married without the True God's blessing.. as I'm pretty sure the church doesn't recognize those marriages. There's no arguing with that. Why do people repeat the same ostensibly self evident arguments over and over again about equality? They don't care about equality. They want everyone to bend to their faith, and for other people's faith to not count. They want the government to give THEIR faith preeminence over other faiths. That's their faith. That's why some people demonize the concept of faith and stay within the realms of reason, leaving the vast world of what is unknowable just that.
And he's right: if you are a Hindu (or any non-Christian, or even if you are a different kind of Christian), then it's not at all likely that any Christian church will recognize your marriage in their church. ... but the state will recognize your marriage. If the argument against SSM is because it's not something in Christian doctrine, then it's a bad argument.

Extending this further, another friend wrote:
I just don't get it... The constitution calls for a separation of Church and State, and so I don't want to hear any religious arguments to preserve Proposition 8 or DOMA. America was created, and legitimized in the Constitution, to protect people from the same religious hate-mongering they experienced in the Old World. If you want to be in the Old World, then go back in time and to the Old World! It is no wonder that many conservatives favour ruling Proposition 8 and DOMA unconstitutional - it is because they are "constitutionalists", and not the extreme tea-partiers that have helped put this country into regression.
Exactly. I agree with this sentiment exactly. Why do some people not understand that marriage is a government-regulated, government-enforced, government-documented legal agreement IN ADDITION TO something that a religion might do? After all, there is no major problem between (A) naming a baby and registering that name with the government at the birth of that child and (B) a religious naming ceremony, such as a christening. Nor is there is no major problem between (A) having a male child register for "selective service" at the time of adulthood and (B) a coming-of-age ceremony, such as confirmation or bar mitzvah. There are, in fact, many civic and religious acts that are analogous to each other and that don't cause any real problems. Why, when it comes to marriage, does the civic aspect of marriage-as-a-legal-arrangement fly out the window? It's just a really bad civic argument.

Even Bill O'Reilly - not known as being a supporter of SSM - seems to get it:
The compelling argument is on the side of homosexuals. That is where the compelling argument is. We’re Americans, we just want to be treated like everybody else. That’s a compelling argument, and to deny that you’ve got to have a very strong argument on the other side. And the other side hasn’t been able to do anything but thump the Bible.”

Furthermore, trying to debate what you believe your god to say a social issue is one thing; saying that your interpretation of what your god says is the way that society should be governed is a completely different thing. And it's not surprising that Christians do understand this (just as any religious minority immediately understands it), and have even discussed why being pro-SSM is the Christian position. Of course, even religious arguments for a position that one favors is not a good thing. To a Buddhist, what is the value of a Christian argument against (or for) same-sex marriage? Arguably, it has the same value as the Buddhist argument does to the Muslim, Jew, Christian, Wiccan, etc.: not a whole lot, except in the case where the non-religious, civic action matches between individuals. However, to hang a constitutional argument upon the framework of one person's religion (or even that person's perspective of their religion) automatically serves to alienate all others who don't share that religion (or that perspective). Right from the get-go.

However, beyond the lack of a good civic argument, thumping the Bible as your main argument against SSM is also a bad moral argument, since there are so many examples of heterosexual Christians who effectively make a mockery of this supposedly sacred institution.

Now, however, the DOMA decisions have been released. Time for a time-suck as I read them.

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