Friday, July 05, 2013

Why I'm not worried about same-sex marriage

With the recent Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and Prop. 8 the national conversation pivoted from possible NSA overreach to same-sex marriage. It was all over the Sunday shows last week, for example, and I'm sure it was beaten to death on the 24-hour cable news programs (not that I can bring myself to watch those).

My feelings on the subject have been well documented, and I won't get into them again. It's not that I haven't thought about them again, especially after watching last week's Meet the Press, but what I have accepted is it's another one of those topics where people who oppose it will always find some reason to oppose it. Even though the land's highest court has declared it is unfair for federal statutes to deny recognition the states have granted, and have dismissed that it damages those who have heterosexual unions (by saying those who brought the Prop. 8 case lacked cause), they have not accepted the issue as remotely close to resolved.

Admittedly that's largely because the Court clearly avoided making a larger ruling about whether it should be flat-out legalized nationwide—and I'm not saying that was imprudent on its part; I do not harbor the belief the country is, overall, ready for that—but even to the extent something definitive has come down from those who have the last word on legal matters they concede no defeat. They have a play left (at the state level) and dang if they won't continue to pursue that.

In short, no argument offered about how banning one type of marriage is categorically discriminatory has any sway over their beliefs. I suppose one could view that steadfast adherence to their principles could be viewed admirably were it not also pretty much the definition of stubborn close-mindedness. However, that is utterly irrelevant; the clear conclusion to be drawn from this: arguments, no matter how logical, will not change their minds, so it's a waste of everyone's time to attempt that.

As more and more people who may have been opposed come to realize they personally know gay and lesbian couples who have loving relationships (or merely are seeking those) one certainly hopes their beliefs will be reconsidered on the topic, but while they are still ensconced behind those staunch beliefs against allowing those couples to marry it's not a conversation; it's two sides talking past each other.

I suppose the key difference in my mind between the groups involved is I'm not entirely sure what the endgame of those who oppose same-sex marriage is. The goal of the supporters is clear enough—national recognition of all types of marriage equally—but as to what the opponents hope to achieve with their efforts isn't so obvious. It cannot be as simple as the mere maintenance of a particular definition they consider correct. That modest outcome fails to justify all of the money and time. Perhaps they fancy some notion that if they keep trying to thwart gays and lesbians' attempts to be treated the same as other couples that those will somehow disappear (or at least all move to Canada). Maybe they merely get their kicks out of feeling they've figuratively kicked those whose "lifestyle" creeps them out. I don't know.

I understand why politicians and groups who raise funds by exploiting the concerns of the opponents like the current situation: they get an influx of contributions when such decisions come down, and as long as the cultural needle keeps moving away from the beliefs of those people the more they can rake in. Cynical as it is to say, the worst thing that could happen for those who get contributions from opposing same-sex marriage is an actual Constitutional amendment banning it nationwide. The opponents would have gotten what they want (at least on that front) and the faucet of cash could be turned off.

And we won't get into the lawyers' fees.

Of course, those on both sides of any issue do a fine job of keeping their contributors sufficiently riled up that the checks keep coming in, so any declaration by the Court that pushes the outcome all the way to one end of the other would cause them only to pivot to a different angle (any decision can be reversed—look at the Voting Rights Act). So, really, as long as there are people inclined to donate to candidates and PAC's and other similarly motivated organizations this will never be resolved.

The only logical conclusion, irrespective of one's beliefs on a given issue, is that we should not expect the issues ever will.

We're only happy when we have something about of government that makes us unhappy. Hey, what else would the Supreme Court do with its time if we weren't bringing such suits?


But to finish up the initial thought: I won't be offering an argument (again) to convince anyone who opposes marriage equality that they should change their position. Not only do I concede the quixotic nature of it, but I also support your liberty and pursuit of happiness.

That's not tacitly endorsing your position; I do hope someday the happiness your pursuing ceases to be trying to prevent the happiness others pursue, but let's not pretend I have some magical rhetoric that immediately will overwhelm everything that has shaped your beliefs.

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