I’m voting Yes

24 10 2012

I’ll come right out and say this: I’m voting Yes to the marriage amendment in November. And I have a simple request: please stop hating me. Please stop calling me a bigot, a homophobe, a hateful ignoramus. I get it. Supporting traditional marriage is not a popular opinion to espouse. It’s not a very trendy way to believe right now. People disagree with my political opinion. But when did that make it okay to attack me as a person? When did it become acceptable to so viciously go after someone who simply disagrees with you?

As far as campaigns go, the vast majority of hatred and harsh rhetoric has come from one side in this debate. And when you’re out-hating the dreaded ‘homophobes’, you know you’re doing something wrong.

Can we make this a civil discussion? Can we work to add respect to the debate? Yes, I’m voting yes. But I can understand why so many of my peers will vote no. If your conscience or your system of morality compels you to vote against this amendment, then you have every right to vote your conscience. I can disagree with you as firmly as I want, but I can’t deny your right to both hold an opinion and cast a vote based on it. But here’s the kicker: the people who disagree with you have that exact same right. We can discuss the issue all we want – in fact, I (along with most Yes-voters) am happy to engage in a serious conversation about the whys. But calling me a bigot, putting words in my mouth, and assuming all Yes voters are ignorant, uneducated, and scared? That’s not getting us anywhere. And telling me I have no right to cast my vote on a government amendment? Well that’s just a poor understanding of democracy.

But isn’t that imposing your morality (and a frequently-religious morality) on everyone else? That’s wrong, right?

It’s a popular argument. But one that ignores something very basic: all law, in its simplest form, is nothing more than codified morality. That’s right. Every law in place in this country is a piece of morality imposed on us all as citizens. But that’s the price we pay for the civil society we get to enjoy. What’s great about democracy is that we get a say in what morality is written into law. We all get a say. Every one of us – no matter what social class we come from, what color our skin is, or what religion (if any) we follow.

This is where the “imposing religion” argument begins to break down. I have a right to vote my conscience, just as you do. But the argument being passed around today says that if my conscience is influenced by my religious beliefs, suddenly I lose the right to vote on the things important to me. How does that make sense? How is the fact that my beliefs are influenced by my religion make me any less deserving of democracy than you, when your beliefs are influenced the same way: either by your personal religion, or personal non-religion?

You can’t take away someone’s right to participate in the political process because you don’t like where they got their beliefs. We all get our beliefs somewhere, and we all have the right to cast a vote based on them.

Hating on someone because you don’t like their beliefs (or don’t like where their beliefs come from) isn’t right. Plain and simple. If you want to engage in a real, fair conversation where ideas are respectfully exchanged and issues are actually examined, I’m all for it. But we need to stop with the oversimplifications, the “bigot”-slinging, the straw men, all of it. As it stands now, it’s an ominous indicator of the state of our society as a whole: when the ones who are supposed to be on the side of tolerance are this, well, intolerant, we know we’re all in a world of trouble.

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9 responses

24 10 2012
Jay

This is not a philosophical, moral vote. It is a question of how you want the government to operate. Adultery is immoral, should it be illegal? If there was a vote today making adultery a criminal offense, how would you vote? If there was a vote that said homosexual sex is a criminal offense, how would you vote? Because that is the root of the immorality argument made by christians…

By making gay marriage illegal, what purpose are you serving? Will it reduce the number of people in this country who are homosexual? Will it reduce the number of homosexual acts?

No. It is nothing more than a punishment for those people who have been born into a life already harder than you can imagine. An individual is gay, that has already been decided, whether by god or by nature, it is certainly not changeable by adulthood. So since they “won’t change”, we are going to make their lives harder. Want to visit your loved one in the hospital? Can’t not related. Want to share assets? Can’t not married. You just want to enter into an institution we, as a culture, have codified as a part of life into the lives of every small child in the counter? You can’t. You can’t lead a normal, married life, despite every minute of every day bombarding you with the cultural presence of an ideal future. Get married. Have Kids. Grow old with a loving family.

I am taking this moment to respectfully exchange ideas with you. Voting your conscience is fine if we are taking a poll on your beliefs. If we are sitting in church, or a philosophy class, and discussing how we define morality. But that is not what this vote is for. This vote is for whether or not you want to tax gay people at a higher rate when they want to exchange assets. If you want to prevent them from seeing each other when they are sick or dying. There is nothing gay about wanting the closest people in your lives to inherit your wealth when you pass on. But you are voting on individuals ability to do that.

And so, with every yes vote, I feel a personal attack on those people. Fine, you don’t understand their lives, their loves, and their personal life. Despite the fact that everything they do is consensual, and harms no one. And because you don’t get it, and you don’t like it, you are going to punish them in every aspect of their lives. Because the effects of marriage pervade all aspects of life.

If I were to call yes voters ignorant, it would largely be because they don’t think through the impacts of their vote. You are not voting on homosexuality, because no such vote is possible. You are voting on individual protections. Whats immoral about sharing healthcare plans with someone of the same gender? Does your conscience say two men shouldn’t be able to visit each other in the hospital?

Apparently it does, if you are voting your conscience. I don’t dislike you as a person, just as you should not dislike gay persons as people. Fine, hate them for having gay sex. But don’t punish the rest of the person for the one act you dont like.

27 10 2012
Sean Niemic

Great question, Jay. Should adultery be illegal? Let me point you to Minnesota Statutes 609.36: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=609.36.

Should this statute be enshrined in the MN Constitution? Not yet, as there is not a concerted effort to legalize adultery through the courts or legislative process. We can re-assess if that ever happens.

25 10 2012
jaredanderson34

I really appreciate the well-thought-out and respectful response. I know that a lot of people will disagree with me, and that’s just a part of life.

I, too, see this as a vote on how government operates. I don’t want to ban gay marriage solely because it’s immoral; I don’t like the steps taken by the government to co-opt and redefine what I see as an essentially religious institution, and this amendment is my way of preventing the government from doing that.

I see marriage first and foremost as a religious institution. I think it was originally a religious institution, and I think it’s more essential to religion than to government. Now, I don’t mind marriage expanding past the religious community (I wouldn’t prohibit marriage for the non-religious, or anything like that), and I don’t even mind the government getting involved to sanction or promote marriage to a degree.

But what I take issue with is when the outside forces, like government or American culture, try to then change the very core of what marriage is in its original context. I don’t think government has the right to do that.

It’s taken me a long time to come to terms with the huge impact a constitutional amendment has – I don’t take it lightly. There’s still a part of me that’s uneasy about a pre-emptive action like this. But I think that marriage is too important, and the threat of government redefinition too imminent, to vote no.

I firmly believe that if we don’t address this issue legislatively, then the issue will be decided for us in the judicial system, like it has in countless other states. I’d rather let the people of Minnesota decide this issue in the open, here and now, than leave it to the judgement of one man in a judge’s robe.

If the government wants to look into the topics you bring up about inheritances and spousal privileges, they can still do that under something like civil unions. But I object to the forced redefinition of marriage itself.

Something we’ll probably never agree on is the issue of choice. You bring up the point that homosexuals are born into a lifestyle where their rights are taken away; I believe it’s a choice. Yes, people can be predisposed to homosexuality, or have frequent homosexual urges, just as some people are genetically predisposed to alcoholism or are pathological liars. I’ve got plenty of my own issues, urgues I have to do things that aren’t moral – the fact that I am strongly drawn to these things doesn’t mean they are OK. But this is another argument for another time, and one we probably can’t come to terms on. But that’s OK, as long as we can continue to respectfully disagree. Thanks for your comment!

26 10 2012
Eli Etloh

No one is trying to take away your right to vote. They’re just calling you out for being ignorant. Ask yourself this, three hundred years from now, would you, (somehow still alive, for the sake of the point) look back on this issue with the same disgust and sadness in your heart as I hope you do when you look back on the civil rights movements for African Americans?

27 10 2012
jaredanderson34

I don’t think the comparison to racial civil rights is an accurate one here. I’m not trying to deny gay people any sort of fundamental right like voting or owning property. I just don’t believe in giving them and others the extra right to redefine marriage as something that it was never meant to be.

It’s a point of a lot of contention, but I also strongly believe that homosexuality is not a permanent quality that people are born with. I don’t even want to make the argument that its a “choice” – homosexuality isn’t even a personal quality, it’s a behavior. I don’t believe for a minute that our legal system should be giving people additional rights because of a behavior that they decide to engage in.

The comparison to the civil rights movement is a misleading distraction and essentially a smear campaign – a way of unfairly equating the opposition to white supremacists, in much the same way that so many internet arguments end with someone calling someone else Hitler.

29 10 2012
Liz

Ah, but the Supreme Court has found that marriage IS a fundamental right….and it was done in a case regarding interracial marriage. See Loving v. Virginia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loving_v._Virginia. The majority opinion stated:

“Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.”

And I know that your primary concern is future changes to marriage by the judiciary–but consider for a moment that before the judiciary got involved, black and white people could not marry each other because of similar laws at the time. I would argue that the courts got that right.

Another thing I would ask you to consider is this: When did you “choose” to be straight? When you were 13? 20? 5? What made you “choose” not to be gay? I am personally straight, but I’ve never known why or how, and I certainly never made that decision. If homosexuals choose to be gay, then we must also have chosen not to be gay at some point…when was that for you?

Finally, I would ask you to consider the thoughts and feelings of any gay or lesbian friends you might have. Why do you think they would even want the right to marry? Would you accept a civil union instead of marriage? Should they have to?

I can tell you’re really considering this issue carefully, which is why I took the time to write this. I would not have done so for a blog post where it was clear that the person was actually bigoted or intolerant. So just please keep being thoughtful and considering these points!

4 11 2012
Jared Anderson

Thanks for the link, Liz! That’s an interesting piece of info I wasn’t aware of. Although I’m still not sure I agree with the court’s designation of marriage as a fundamental human right, I can see why it would make sense to rule that way in this particular case. Obviously, the holding is pretty narrow in that they qualify it to be about denying marriage based on race, and I still feel the difference between race and sexual orientation is very very significant.

The idea that traditional marriage advocates like me call homosexuality a “choice” never quite captures my beliefs on it accurately. I think calling it a choice oversimplifies a pretty complex issue. I’d rather not call it a choice, so much as a behavior. Here’s my rationale: before the 19th Century, we didn’t even have a word for “homosexual.” In fact, we didn’t even have a concept of attraction to the same sex as a character trait. Before that time, homosexuality as we know it now was only seen as a behavior which people at times participated in. This is a case of something that I think we’ve perhaps “out-thought” ourselves on over time as we’ve turned an action that someone does into an inescapable character trait that someone “is.”

No, I don’t for a moment claim that gay people at some point “chose” to feel an attraction to their same sex. But I do believe they chose to accept and act on those attractions. In various ways, we all have some sort of innate attraction to deviant behavior (I use deviant to mean it deviates from both the societal norm and the moral structure), though we all feel that attraction in different areas. But just because someone is personally drawn to a deviant behavior doesn’t make it OK for them to choose to participate in.

This all comes back to the point that we as Christians don’t look down on gay people or think ourselves better than them (although too many of our brothers and sisters have unfortunately acted that way too often). We see homosexuality as a sinful behavior that people are drawn to in the exact same way that we are drawn to our own sinful behaviors like pride, lust, greed, dishonesty, etc. And just as we don’t excuse our own behaviors or create inescapable character traits to justify them (I’m just a dishonest person, it’s how I was born and you should just learn to accept my dishonest behaviors), so we don’t do the same for others.

Again, I hate the connotations that arise when I use the word “sinful,” so I want to make sure and reiterate that I’m not trying to denigrate gay people – I’m as much of a sinner as anyone else.

Thanks for taking the time to comment!

31 10 2012
Jarisa Johnson

Jay, you are a much stronger individual than I am. What with you being able to fight off the same sex urges that some of the rest of us have a hard time with. Kudos to you. You are entitled a right to your opinion, but the second you vote “yes” you are directly discriminating against a group of people. You can try and talk your way around that all you want, it is still discrimination. Enjoy the clouds, your head seems to be content there.

4 11 2012
Jared Anderson

I’m sorry that I offended you; I guess that comes with the territory in an issue like this. I just replied to Liz’s comment, and if you read that response, I hope you’ll get a better picture of my views. In short, I’m absolutely not a stronger individual than you are, but my weaknesses and inclinations to sin lie in other areas. I’m not attempting to judge, hate, or discriminate, and I hope I don’t come across that way.

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