Sunday, December 21, 2008

Freedom to marry and freedom of religion have a lot in common

On some earlier posts regarding gay marriage, discussion has often come to an impasse because I think homosexuality isn't a choice and some people think it is. People are entitled to their opinions just as much as I am.

Basically, because some people think that homosexuality is a choice and race isn't, marriage equality doesn't fall under the same guidelines as the previous ruling of Loving v. Virginia that said banning interracial marriage is unconstitutional. For the sake of argument, let's say that homosexuality is a choice and gay people everywhere are simply choosing to be queer.

The United States Constitution protects certain inalienable rights, many of those which we are unable to determine (race, age, disability). However, the Constitution also protects rights which we do choose. According to the First Amendment, I can choose to worship anything I want and the government protects my right to do so. The Framers included rights for things unable to change and those that could.

To those who say that sexual orientation is a choice, I want to know this:

In light of fact that some inalienable rights we're able to choose, how can you still deny marriage equality on a Constitutional level? Take into account the changing/unchanging nature of the protected rights of race and religion and the decisions of the Supreme Court to grant marriage as an inalienable right when answering.

I'm interested to see what people have to say. I have some thoughts on the issue, but I want to start some dialogue first.

9 comments:

Mike said...

You can't really make the point that because one can choose whichever religion they want and have their preference protected that gays should be able to marry. Tradition and historical precedent are bumped for one to practice their religion of choice. It's comparing apples to oranges really. Because if your going to compare the 'choice' aspect of things. They have made the choice to be gay. Being homosexual is making the choice to be with someone of the same-sex. Feelings and attractions of people to the same-sex happens. However, those feelings and attractions don't make you gay or lesbian. Acting on those feelings do. And they make the concious choice to act on those feelings. And that right there is the only logical correlation between freedom of religion and homosexuality. When you throw in the marraige portion of it, you lose any kind of comparison.

And then you look at the legal aspect of it. If gays are allowed to marry. Then why not polygamists? Or relatives? Or a 40 year old man and a 13 year old? I'm not comparing gays to pedophiles or polygamists, but what I am saying is that it's a slippery slope, legally speaking. The argument used by the homosexual community is they love each other, why shouldn't they be able to get married? Well, a brother and sister could use that argument too. So could an 8th grade teacher and her student. Same for a polygamist and his 4 wives. So now the question is: Do you legalize marriage for them as well? If gays are allowed to marry, then how could those other fringe groups be denied the same right?

Amelia said...

How interesting. I just watched a re-run of Jon Stewart's interview with Mike Huckabee on The Daily Show where he takes Huckabee on about gay rights.

I think this is a brilliant point, and one many people who make arguments about gay rights/marriage do not take into consideration.

Great post.

Amelia said...

I think it's hard to make the argument "if gays say they love each other than polygamists and siblings who love each other should be allowed to marry" because let's think about it.

A homosexual relationship is nearly the same as the "accepted" heterosexual relationships that are allowed to marry except that the people are of the same sex. It's between only two people. It's between two people who are not related.

The only real way it differs from the kinds of relationships that are accepted as it stands right now is that the people are of the same sex.

Polygamist relationships have less in common with the accepted form of heterosexual relationships. Same goes for the sibling-love relationship you describe, Mike.

I think that that is like comparing "apples to oranges."

FEMily! said...

"Feelings and attractions of people to the same-sex happens. However, those feelings and attractions don't make you gay or lesbian. Acting on those feelings do."

This is totally false, Mike. If this were true, virgins couldn't be considered straight or gay or anything else. Furthermore, if what you say is true, masturbating would mean you are sexually attracted to yourself.

lindsay said...

Amelia covered the apples to oranges/homosexuality to polygamy aspect pretty well, so I'm going to focus on the first part of the comment. Although I'm not completely sure I follow your argument, I want to try to address it.

Being homosexual is making the choice to be with someone of the same-sex. Feelings and attractions of people to the same-sex happens. However, those feelings and attractions don't make you gay or lesbian. Acting on those feelings do. And they make the concious choice to act on those feelings. And that right there is the only logical correlation between freedom of religion and homosexuality. When you throw in the marraige portion of it, you lose any kind of comparison.

It seems to me that you're arguing for a separation of identity and actions and I don't competely disagree with you (I consider there to be a huge difference between calling someone a racist and saying someone has done something racist). However, I think that there's a difference here. When does someone become an astronaut? The moment they enter into space? Am I a Christian if I believe some aspects of Christianity (which I do) but don't actively attend church (which I don't)? I think it really depends on various situations regarding the disconnect between identity and actions; however, I think the issue is when we legislate based on that disconnect. Consider the difference between sodomy laws and discrimination laws - the action is illegal but you can't discriminate against people who engage in those actions? It's just not consistent and exposes a double standard in laws and Supreme Court rulings.

I appreciate your response, but you haven't sold me on the difference between religious choice and the choice of sexual orientation.

I've just started reading Love The Sin by Janet Jakobsen and Ann Pellegrini and along with an argument for moving from tolerance to acceptance, they suggest gay rights activists utilize more of the parallels to freedom of religion than they currently do. I haven't read the chapter yet, but they brought it up in the introduction and I wanted to get opinions before reading the chapter.

Michael said...

Mike: Two people of the same sex = 2 consenting adults. 40 year old man + 13 year old girl = not 2 consenting adults.
Polygamy is an entirely different matter about expanding the idea of the civil union to multiple people, which is really more a matter of contract law than civil unions, in my opinion, and as such shouldn't really be included in the "slippery slope," as you put it, which is in itself a logical fallacy and pretty much invalidates that argument whether or not the whole polygamy/pedophilia thing is valid.

This entire argument that we're having right now is predicated upon the idea that homosexuality is a choice, which I'm not even going to begin to get into because then I'd have to start talking about whether free will even exists and this post is about the hypothetical situation wherein it is established that homosexuality IS a choice, so I'll just not go there.

fourth wave said...

Great post. First of all, I don't think homosexuality is a choice for most people, but it may be for some. Secondly--and this is more important--whether or not homosexuality is a choice is specious grounds for an argument about whether or not gay people should be allowed to get married. So what if it is a choice? Does it naturally follow this choice (if it is a choice) precludes us from certain basic human rights? In that sense, I think the freedom of religion argument (and, Amelia, I agree, Stewart's rebuttal Huckabee was brilliant on that count) is a sound comparison. Because, fact is, even if it is a choice, homosexuality is not something that can be compared to things like polygamy, incest or pedophilia. As other commentators have written--more articulately than I could--gay marriage is still about two people who love each other, two people who are consenting adults and are not related to one another. It's really not that different from heterosexual attraction. What about heterosexuality makes it so right and homosexuality so wrong?

That said, and this is a question particularly for Mike, do you feel heterosexuality is a choice? If so, what about heterosexuality makes it a "natural" or socially-sanctioned choice over and above homosexuality? If not, why do you think following through on heterosexual attraction is less of a choice than following through on homosexual attraction (in the terms of your argument)?

Liz said...

I take a different stance on the nature vs. nurture debate on homosexuality. It probably is a choice. I probably could change my sexual orientation to only like men if I really wanted to. But that doesn't change anything because there is nothing wrong with adults having consensual, non adulterous (I don't include polyamory in that category, BTW) sex with each other. The fact that it's a choice does not mean I shouldn't have the right to marry. The fact that so many people seem to think that if they don't claim that gays and bisexuals can't help it then we'll lose the battle is deeply worrying.

Why not have a compromise? Let's have a legal agreement that any two adults or groups of adults can sign that gives them the legal rights of marriage, such as the right to inherit, regardless of the nature of their relationship. This will stop the stupid anti GM "argument" that granting gay marriage will be unfair to friends and relatives who live together without a sexual relationship. (That's also a fantastic argument against straight marriage, but nevermind...) And if someone wants to have their union sanctioned in a religious ceremony, they can if their church/mosque/whatever agrees.

Jason said...

@Mike,
You make a cultural conservative point that homosexual marriage should not be legal because it is a slippery slope for other kinds of relationships. But this is really a red herring. The question we should ask should rather be just this one.

Is homosexual marriage legal under American constitution? The answer is a resounding yes.

Polygamists and relatives should be able to marry one other so long as the conscents are given as adults. I would oppose to the case you mentioned of "40 year old man and a 13 year old" because the 13 year old cannot give a conscent as an adult.