Friday, March 29, 2013

Thomas Jefferson on Changing Times

"I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors."

- Jefferson to H. Tompkinson (AKA Samuel Kercheval), July 12, 1816

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Right to Marry: Prop 8 & DOMA

(sidenote: you hashtag FB and I'll pull your nosehairs)

I'm getting a little oversaturated with this week's SCOTUS questioning of California's Prop 8 and DOMA. The reason is that, for me, it's very cut and dry: every consenting adult should have the right to marry another consenting adult despite the sex of that person. Anything less is bigotry and discrimination, caused by ignorance and fear, and justified by hiding behind the shield of "freedom" or religion.

Some of the awful defenses we've all heard too much of:

The Bible!
Seriously? We're still doing this? There is NO sacred tradition of marriage in the Bible. Women are property; Solomon had 700 wives, etc. And even if there was a single, unified message of the Biblical definition of marriage?

It's Sacred!
Shut up. If it were so sacred you'd be fighting to ban divorce as vehemently as you are fighting same-sex marriage.

The Tradition!
There is no solid tradition in marriage. If anything, the definition of marriage has always been mutable. From the Bible to every period in history from women being solid property to being decidedly subservient to the development of a very equal marriage and now we've finally developed enough as a society to be okay with a man marrying another man. The people claiming tradition are the same ones calling for a return to the "idyllic" lives everyone lived in the 1950's.

It's Unnatural!
If we're looking to nature for examples to forge a definition of marriage, that's kind of a wide spectrum out of which monogamy is actually out of the norm. Females with competing mates and multiple partners? Check. Homosexual relationships? Check. Bang whoever's around for procreation? Check.

What else is unnatural? Polyester, cable TV, and corrective lenses. Ironically, some of the clergy preaching about unnatural acts are the purveyors of one of the few "relationship" statuses that does NOT exist in the natural world: celibacy.

The Natural Order!
This one is similar to the one above, but generally eschews any religious backing to specifically state that marriage is a natural institution for the sole purpose of procreation. This, of course, is absurd, and would limit marriage to two members of the opposite sex who are provably fertile and potentially void every marriage after menopause or male sterility.

Fine, I'll Marry My Dog!
This is the most ignorant. This is about two consenting adults being denied a right specifically because of their sex and sexual orientation. This does not open the door to polygamy or bestiality or the normalization of pedophilia. You will never be able to marry your dog, no matter how much you enjoy the way it licks the peanut butter off your privates.

Christians will be Persecuted! / Christianity will be Illegal!
Fox News: Stahp.
Christianity is a huge majority and every version of every equal rights bill that has been introduced includes provisions for religious institutions to be exempt from a mandate to perform a marriage. Anyone you hear this from is either purposefully spreading fear or parroting someone who does.

What is not being clearly stated (or purposefully lost in the chatter) is that this is not a religious issue; it's an equal rights issue. If I need to get a marriage license, I go to the county, not a church. If I want to get married, nothing requires me to have it done by a priest; just someone the state deems qualified to sign the county-issued piece of paper. There doesn't even have to be a ceremony! As a non-denominational, licensed minister, I can meet a couple at Starbucks, sign their paper, and as soon as the Secretary of State receives it, they're officially married.

And because this is a civil institution and a civil definition of marriage, it is also a civil right. No matter how ignorant or scared or bigoted or religious a person is, every single argument against marriage being offered to two consenting adults of the same sex.