My Problem With Gay Marriage

By now, most everybody has formed an opinion on the issue of gay marriage, and adding another voice to the argument is not really constructive if it's just to repeat the same thing that lots of other are saying.  So, let me list some reasons that may not be getting a lot of traction from others, beginning with the more high-minded and philosophical and progressing down to the selfish and utilitarian.

First, let me acknowledge and proclaim that my love for this country is vast and deep.  Almost stalker-like.  If I had to list the best 5 countries in the history of the world, that list would read "1. USA, 2. USA, 3. USA, 4. USA, 5. USA."  We are a free, tolerant, open nation accepting all who live here (even if they are here illegally.  But that's another issue)  One of the most fundamental things about this great nation is that we are ruled by laws rather than men, and those laws are accessible to we the people, and are subject to change based upon the will of the people.  We directly elect those people responsible for making our laws, and they respond to our wishes.  Unpopular or unfair laws do not remain laws very long.  That is an awesome thing about our country, and lies at the very heart of our government.

On the other side of the coin, when that system is disregarded, ignored, circumvented, or bypassed, I have a serious problem with it.  It offends me to no end.  I don't like my system of government tampered with and stories of obvious ballot box irregularities make me want to punch someone in the face.  Voter fraud = treason in my book.  Likewise, when hot button issues are punted to the courts to let law be implemented by judicial fiat, my blood boils.  Courts are not places of compromise.  They are not places of deliberation of the will of the people, and most judges who decide these controversial subjects do not face election.  They are insulated, and therefore (to my mind) ill-suited to impose law upon the rest of us, especially when those laws are immune from change or repeal.

The issue of gay marriage does not belong in the courts, but rather in the legislatures of each state.  If the people of a state wish to debate the issue and decide to define marriage to include two (or more) same-sex people, then so be it.  Let legislators state their case, cast their vote, and then face the people on election day.  That's how we do things in this country. Alas, legislators are only too happy to allow courts to decide this issue (as well as most other hot button issues).  Abortion, affirmative action, etc. are decided by courts because legislators have decided it is better for them politically not to take a stand.  They would rather not have to face voters after having taken a stand.

Gay marriage is being imposed upon many states not through legislative deliberation in which each side is heard and compromise is reached.  Rather, it is court-ordered in a one-size-fits-all manner.  Most offensive is the way in which the Massachusetts Supreme Court ordered the state legislature to pass a bill providing for gay marriage. Ponder that for a bit.  Judges ordering elected representatives what to do.  And the fact that the Court looked at the state constitution of Massachusetts for their justification is a real head scratcher.  The state Constitution of Massachusetts was written by John Adams, and included such phrases as "it being the right and the duty of all people to acknowledge and worship God" and called for public days of prayer to be paid for by the state.  Something tells me that john Adams would disagree with the Court's interpretation of his document.

My second philosophical problem with gay marriage is that states should be allowed to define what certain things mean, and what certain things do not mean.  If the state wishes for marriage to mean "one man and one woman" it should be within the state's right to do so.  When activists sue the state to have the definition changed, and a judge agrees and orders the change, then the train has really left the rails.  If the definitions of things are constantly open to revision and expansion, then those things have lost their meaning.  Why should redefinition of marriage be stopped at two same-sex couples?  Why not three?  And why should marriage be defined in sexual terms, anyway?  Why shouldn't two siblings be allowed to take advantage of the benefits that society has bestowed upon married couples?  Or a mother and her child?  At some point the state not only has the right but also the obligation to definitively proclaim "this institution means this, and not that."  Even proponents of gay marriage would seem to agree with this.  They just disagree on what the definition should be.

But why would three people wish to marry?  Or siblings?  Or parents and their children?  It has been said so often that it has become trite, but the nuclear family is the very foundation upon which our society has been built.  It is useful and desirable to encourage and support the nuclear family.  Therefore, certain benefits and privileges have been bestowed upon married couples, both by the public as well as private sectors.  Community property, shared health benefits, the ability to make medical decisions, etc. are all commonly-understood benefits of marriage.  It is understandable that those who are not in heterosexual marriages would wish to take advantage of these benefits.  And not just for gay couples.  If a pair of adult siblings live together and care for one another the way a married couple would, then why shouldn't they have the same rights that a married heterosexual couple does?  In that regard, the whole field of civil unions has become more high profile and should be considered as a way for couples (or even larger groups of people) to enter into a state-recognized contract, in which each party bestows rights upon the other.

And that's where it gets really thorny for me, and leads me to my final, most self-centered point.  As an owner of a small business, I offer medical insurance as a benefit.  The more elastic the definition of marriage becomes, the greater the financial exposure and burden become.  Insurance companies are in the business of numbers.  The greater the risk that the insurance company calculates it faces, the higher my premiums become.  One of the most frequently-stated reasons given by gay marriage proponents for wishing to be married is to obtain spousal health benefits.  The assumption is that these benefits will be subsidized by some third party, because if they weren't then why bother getting married to get the coverage - if you could get the same coverage for the same money as a single person, the marriage offers no advantage.  Someone has to pay for that savings, and, as an employer, I would rather not have to pay it.  Is that selfish?  Probably.  But it isn't any more selfish than somebody wanting to change the definition of marriage so that they can save some money on health insurance, is it?

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Louis Core published on May 24, 2009 6:15 PM.

Too Big to Fail was the previous entry in this blog.

My Problem With People Who Have A Problem With Gay Marriage is the next entry in this blog.

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