So let me get this straight, if you’ll pardon the expression. The argument is that this judge (Judge Walker, who ruled CA’s Prop 8 unconstitutional) is unfit to rule on gay marriage because he MIGHT be gay? The reason he “might” be gay is that he is unmarried and hasn’t said one way or the other what his sexual orientation is, by the way. Right, so by this logic, we can’t have any female judges ruling on abortion or women’s rights, no african-american judges may rule on civil rights or racial discrimination cases, judges over the age of 55 may not rule on cases involving senior citizens, and oh right, heterosexual judges may not rule on gay marriage either, since the arguments against always include preservation of traditional heterosexual marriage as justification. (More after the jump. Rant ahoy!)
In protest against the judge’s decision, Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council (heir apparent to the appallingly backward James Dobson, originator of such sage childrearing advice as ‘don’t teach your sons how to cook or clean or do any ‘women’s work,’ lest they turn gay’) squawked, “I think what you have is one judge who thinks he knows — and a district level judge and an openly homosexual judge at that who says he knows better than not only 7 million voters in California but voters in 30 states across the nation that have passed marriage amendments.”
In the first place, Judge Walker has never publicly discussed his sexuality (nor should anyone expect him to), and even if he had, it shouldn’t matter any more than a judge’s gender matters in deciding, say, an abortion case (i.e. not at all).
In the second place, it is the job of the judiciary to know better than the voting majority in matters of constitutional law. If the white majority of a state voted unanimously that lynching a black person is not a crime, we would absolutely expect that the judiciary should step in and strike down the law as unconstitutional. There is no difference here – the voting majority decided to deny rights to specific minority of people. It is the responsibility of the judiciary to protect that minority under the constitution, whether the majority likes it or not.
EVEN BETTER is the newly-surfaced argument that women are weak and that marriage exists to prevent men from enslaving, raping, beating, and killing them. I’m so glad I got married and am therefore out of danger (because, y’know, I needed rescuing from my respectful, considerate, chivalrous husband. NOT.) Therefore, the purpose of “marriage” is to protect the safety of women from men (because, y’know, US law and US law enforcement are completely ineffective towards this end), and so the term doesn’t apply to unions other than male + female. No really, I’m not making this up.
On the first link above, a commenter distilled the whole gay marriage debate down to a set of simple mathematical relations, which I really liked. Math is simple, straightforward, and objective. The best part of this analysis is that the argument begins not with “gay marriage = straight marriage,” but rather with the fundamental position of the Prop 8 supporters:
Man + Woman = Marriage
Man = Woman (gender equality is enshrined in US law)
Man + Woman = Marriage
Man + Man = Marriage
Woman + Woman = Marriage
This also effectively puts paid to the hysterical assertions that allowing gay marriage will lead to people marrying their pets, or marrying minor children in order to abuse them, or marrying many people to exploit the legal and financial benefits of marriage. After all:
Adult =/= Child under the law
Person =/= Animal
Woman =/= (Woman x 2)
If one accepts that Men and Women are equal under the law, there’s really no supportable way to avoid legalizing same-gender marriage. The options of those opposed are as follows:
1. Pass legislation such that we return to the 19th century, when men and women were not equal under the law. Given that more than 50% of the electorate in this country are women, good luck with that approach.
2. Completely dissociate the term “marriage” from the civil construct we call marriage. Give control of “marriage” entirely to the nation’s spiritual institutions, but under the stipulation that being “married” in a Church doesn’t change the legal/civil status of the married persons. The civil and legal aspects of marriage would have to be bestowed by means of a civil union contract with the government, which may be sought by any two consenting adult American citizens (perhaps with provisions for the union of people with differing citizenship), with hefty monetary penalties for said contract’s dissolution to prevent abuse.
I’m actually okay with this setup, so long as the civil and legal benefits of “marriage” aren’t held hostage by religious institutions, which is not proper in a society where there is obligate separation of church and state.
I suppose it’s worth asking, why do I care at all about gay marriage? It doesn’t affect me directly. I’m not gay, and none of my family are gay (at least, not that anybody’s told me). None of my gay friends are looking to get hitched anytime soon. Really, it shouldn’t matter to me, right? I am a most fortunate woman in that I have the privilege of being married to my best friend. One of the joys of my marriage is the mix of cultures – I’m a standard American mutt of west-European ancestry (mainly Irish and French), and my husband is what they call “ABC,” or American-Born Chinese. Sixty years ago, it would’ve been illegal for us to be married, to be a family. I am very, excruciatingly conscious that “there but for the Grace of God go I.” It could’ve been me fighting for the right to love where I will and build a family of my choosing. That being the case, it is only fitting that I speak up in support of others who fight that same battle. Indeed, I am happy to do so.