Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gay Marriage and The Whole Bloody Mess (Part I)

Ever plan a wedding? You have your ideal vision formed - small, personal, informal reception and all that wonderful stuff. Hey! No worries! What's all the fuss people keep going on about? Then you hit the guest list. You want to invite 50 people, but what if Aunt Ulga ends up bringing her 3 children who you met 8 years ago at a funeral - and if you only invite aunt Ulga, won't Aunt Bernice and Uncle Bob be a tad miffed that you snubbed them? Then people start inviting themselves. "I'll be there!!" Really? I didn't remember inviting you to begin with, jackass. Then the responses start coming in, and people may or not be coming to the reception, or they're inviting extra tag alongs. That throws the catering into chaos. The point is, something that seems so simple snowballs out of control because of the great and universal law of unintended consequences. Such is the case with gay marriage.

This is an emotional issue on both sides of the coin, and lots of people seem to leave their brains at the door when they start to rumble on this. I have no problem with gay people. I work with gay people, I have gay friends that are dear to my heart - but gay marriage isn't about whether you think gay people are just jim-dandy or the scourge of the earth. It's about the same thing that happens when you try to plan a wedding. Sometimes things that seem so simple are not even remotely that easy. Constitutional issues never are, and this is what this boils down to - The Constitution.

Gay rights activists were livid when gay marriage initiatives were soundly rejected in 30 states, passing with heavy support from black and Latino voters. After the votes, Keith Olbermann went on a disingenuous rant that got countless hits on YouTube about people wanting to rob others of their "right to love". Olbermann was stangely silent on the issue when his golden boy, President Obama, appeared at the Saddleback forum, stating that he subscribed to the traditional view of marriage because of his belief in Jesus. Where was Keith's self-righteous scorn when it really mattered, and why isn't he attacking the President now that he's gone on the record supporting the defence of marriage act? Probably because he's a soulless ratings-grabbing little weasel.

Let's first dispense with this nonsense that banning gay marriage is somehow taking away people's "right to love". Really? If Canada suddenly repealed it's law allowing gay marriage, countless gay couples would suddenly cease to love each other? Maybe I should rethink my own marriage, because if I follow that train of logic, I really wouldn't know if I loved Claire or not until September. That could be awkward. The entire "right to love" argument is an emotional one, and drags the whole debate into the realm of silliness.

Some states have allowed gay couples to marry. States have a right to decide these types of issues, and that's exactly how the founders of United States wanted it to be. The trouble starts when the couple moves to another state. By law, another state, even one that does not allow gay marriage, must recognize the marriage as legal. The federal constitution can trump a state's constitution when it comes to brass tacks. The state's courts are then jammed with petitions from their own residents filing suit for their right to be married because the state has recognized the validity of a same sex marriage. See? The snowball starts rolling down the hill.

Many pundits have been clamouring for years now that allowing same sex marriage would open up the flood gates to other types of folks who want their non-traditional views of marriage recognized, ie, polygamists. Even I thought this argument was tenuous at best. Turns out I was wrong. There are now dozens of petitions being brought before the courts demanding that their right to marry Sally, Mary, Jenny, and Sue be recognized because of the precedents set by the state in recognizing same sex marriage. A gay couple may rightfully argue it's not their problem. Maybe not, but there is no denying this would not have been an issue had the state chosen not to recognize gay marriage in the first place.

The gay marriage issue is not going away. I don't have the answer, but I do know that we have to tread these waters carefully, with cool heads and reason. If not, that wedding list is going to start getting awfully complicated. It's the law of unintended consequences.


1 comment:

Kat said...

Very interesting, Joseph!