Monday, August 6, 2012

No to MN Marriage Amendment

The Republicorp right wing in Minnesota has placed a number of initiatives on the November ballot. In addition to an ill-considered "Voter Id" measure designed to inhibit voting participation by the underclass, they want to enshrine a moralistic definition of marriage in the state constitution. This is a bad idea for several reasons:

1. Religious morality has no place in the state constitution. Although some non-religious individuals may oppose gay marriage, it's rather obvious that the majority of support for the amendment comes from religious groups. Their reasons originate from their biblical interpretation that God ordained traditional marriage. They are free to believe whatever they want, but imposing religious values onto secular law amounts to theocracy. They are free to project homophobic views on their version of God, but this shouldn't be used to affect public policy.

I recall that when Pat Robertson was campaigning for president in 1988, he promoted a number of policy issues that were based on Christian doctrine. This led me to wonder why he didn't sit down with the Muslim mullahs of Iran and compare notes; it seemed that the Iranian system should serve a an excellent model for the type of government that Robertson prefers. What's not to like? Laws are based on religious teaching, sinners are punished publicly, all governmental institutions serve religious ideals and objectives. Simply replace The Prophet Muhammed with Jesus, and you would think guys like Robertson would be all over that.

2. The institution of marriage evolved to serve a useful purpose in society. The major reason gays and lesbians have been traditionally excluded is that they were largely invisible until relatively recently. This isn't because homosexuality is a "lifestyle choice" that is increasing in popularity; all available evidence suggests that the incidence has been about the same throughout history. Due to repression in most time periods, it generally was not noticed, let alone accepted until recently

I grew up in the 60's in a white, protestant section of society where I was not even aware that homosexuality existed until high school, where there were always one or two students that were bullied as "queer". I also did not know that blacks had grievances, and when the ghettos exploded in rage, I accepted the conservative view that outside agitators must be stirring things up. When I saw Martin Luther King leading demonstrations on TV, I couldn't imagine what all the fuss was about. Why didn't those Memphis garbage collectors just go back to work and stop making trouble? Only after escaping my insulated childhood enclave did I begin to see more dimensions to the world around me. Being white and heterosexual, it was difficult to see how others could encounter problems with things I took for granted.

I knew since grade school that I was attracted to girls, well before sexual desire had anything to do with it. I had no sympathy or understanding for those attracted to same gender until I heard gays and lesbians describing a similar attraction since grade school, only to the same gender. I used to be troubled with the concept of same-sex attraction, but later had to admit that we don't really know what causes heterosexual attraction, for that matter. Perhaps someone with asexual orientation would be put off by the idea of intimate contact with anyone of either gender. What causes attraction in any case? Christians will cite natural selection and procreation & survival of the species without realizing the obvious contradiction in that they don't believe in evolution.

My present understanding of the human psyche explains that our behavior is heavily influenced by the long history of countless lives that our souls have lived. We sometimes change genders from life to life, so it's easy to imagine some confusion if we are accustomed to relating as one gender and then incarnate as the other. Human behavior is complex and shrouded in mystery; at this point in life I'm inclined to take a "live and let live" approach to those who see and do things differently than I.

Those defending traditional marriage will no doubt inject the issue of schools teaching "inclusive values" regarding same-sex relationships. While this is no reason to vote for the amendment, they may have somewhat of a valid point there. I'm wary of schools pushing social values on kids. Explaining why Danny has two dads might have it's place, but why not just let them observe life and develop their own values? Alternative lifestyles do not need promotion in school. The lyrics by Pink Floyd come to mind...

We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey! Teachers! Leave them kids alone!
All in all it's just another brick in the wall.

It may be that in 50 years, marriage will have evolved into something far different or even disapeared. In Conversations with God, Neil Donald Walsch speculates that the traditional system of child rearing is less than optimum. Young adults, while at their peak age for child bearing, are not well suited for the task of raising children. Grandparents posess more patience and wisdom for teaching children, but have less physical stamina. Perhaps a different formula will be worked out at some point.

Well, this has been quite a digression. The bottom line is that people should be free to do as they choose, and what they choose shouldn't threaten anyone who chooses differently. The religious right's agenda to impose their version of morality on society should be strenuously opposed. Fortunately, failure to vote on an ammendment in Minnesota is taken as a NO vote, so if you're unsure about the issue, just abstain! Leave the ballot blank on that question.


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