Friday, May 11, 2012

Gay Marriage and Economic Injustice

image from
Truth be told, I am far more worried about the negative influence of economic injustice than I am about the idea that same-gender marriage seems to heading toward acceptance and legalization.

Perhaps that's because, as the country saying goes, "I ain't got a dog in that fight." Yes, I do know people who are gay. Yes, I have long believed and now intellectually understand that homosexuality isn't a choice. And yes, I understand there are negative economic issues forced upon homosexual couples—in the tax code, for example, or the inability to acquire group health coverage as do married couples.

Nevertheless, I think the negative economic influence of same-gender marriage prohibitions, which effects a minority, pales in comparison to the accumulation and mismanagement of wealth on Wall Street, which cost every citizen income and capital, crippled the USA economy, and damaged the world economy. 

Obama could have done more good for more people by, for example, proposing laws to limit executive compensation and bonuses; to prosecute the nefarious Wall Streeters who provoked the economic meltdown; force the SEC and other regulatory agencies to tighten standards; and then fire every person in his administration linked to the major players in the debacle.

But as I say, "I ain't got a dog in the fight." I doubtless would feel differently if someone I loved and respected was part of a long-term same-gender couple and wanted to marry. 

Since Biden (a Catholic, I think) spoke from the heart and Obama was persuaded to agree, I've come to believe that society in general (citizens always being more progressive than politicians) has evolved toward the idea that marriage is nothing more than a government-sanctioned practical, legal, and rights-based union of two people. 

As for me, in my heart, I have always believed that a true marriage comes as a religious rite sanctifying a spiritual union of souls. The corollary thought becomes that theology defines marriage.

Is the right to marriage a moral (ethical, spiritual) issue or is a civil rights issue? Slate (discussing Obama's shifting of position ) offers the opinion that morality is fluid and is adjusted according to outer influences. 

In other words, Biden was right about Will and Grace. Liberals who cheer that insight should recognize that that position allies him with Tipper Gore regarding violence and explicit sex in song lyrics, the people who believe violent video games are detrimental to children, and those who want to regulate advertising on television.

I believe in moral behavior. I believe there is a moral order. I believe in the greatest commandment, which compels me, some might say, to "love" (meaning "allow the same freedom to") a homosexual person as I allow myself—marriage, in this particular case.

I actually think America is evolving toward a dual-marriage environment. A "legal" marriage will require a ceremony or signing a registry for the government. A religious marriage will require a sanctified ceremony. Everyone who marries must be joined through a "legal" marriage; those of us who believe will subsequently take part in a religious marriage. Some churches may choose to marry same-sex couples; some churches may not. 

As noted, "Ain't got no dog in this fight," and by that I mean the idea that a same-sex couple can marry does not influence my personal life. There is no doubt, however, that it has significant social impact. I suspect those changes are far less apt to have an adverse influence on human progress when compared, as random examples, to the growing manipulation of the human genome, to the concept that euthanasia is a proper end of a human life, to selective gender abortion, or to the integration of artificial and human intelligence.

Do I support gay marriage? Liberal friends will say, "You should, if you are older and wiser." Traditionalist friends will say, "When you do, it is a retreat into the swamp of moral relativism."

I say, "I wish Paul Krugman would be elected the next president of the United States."

  • For more on the religious aspect of same-sex marriages, there is an interesting read, the link to which is circulating on Facebook. While it seems to address the Orthodox church, I found "When Same-Sex Marriage Was a Christian Rite" a fascinating read, one that pushes my slippery (and personal) conception of marriage out onto muddy ground.   


deanna said...

As usual, Gary, I like your thoughts. Even having close relatives who are gay, I, too, feel I ain't got a dog in this fight. I love my relatives; I also believe, at least in a similar sense to yours, I think, that theology defines marriage, which is a sacramental union.

That said, I don't think theology excludes a gay person from sacramental life, which as I'm coming to understand it includes confession and repentance and striving to live sacrificially for ultimate truth.

I've heard the theory that the Old Testament's portrayal of King David and Jonathon is a depiction of a gay couple. The same theory seems to be the case with Sergius and Bacchus, according to the article from your link. There's a more official Orthodox Christian blurb about them here:

I would need to learn more to be able to answer whether or not there was ever a "rite" of gay marriage related to Christianity, but I think a careful study of many sources would show this to be an aberration, if it happened. Anyway, though, I am just as certain homosexuals have become Christians throughout the ages as I am that men have cared for men and women for women in non-sexual fashions. What has counted, in my view, is that people cared for their conviction more than for their lives, as the story of Sts. S. and B. mentions.

Nanette Elfstocking said...

Aha! I thought the image came from the cover of John Boswell's book, Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe, and I was right! (I sang at his memorial service.)

I like this post (I particularly agree with the point about dual marriage at the end), and I love your Modern Love essay that was published in The New York Times a few years ago. I've recommended it to many friends. I just made my husband read it. It's very moving, and very well-written Thank you!

Gary Presley said...

Thanks for the comment, Nanette. I am happy you found the "Modern Love" essay also. We're still going strong -- together almost 24-years, 20-year anniversary this year.