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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Thoughts on Prop. 8 and Gay Marriage

Prop. 8 was a big deal a few years ago in California, and voters eventually approved it, but it's been in appeals ever since. A few days ago, California's Supreme Court overturned it, and it's been in the news again. I've always had a rather unorthodox opinion regarding Prop. 8, and have already lost close friends over this controversial issue, so I've been hesitant to share my thoughts until now. I think the most tragic thing about this issue isn't who it fails to bring together, but who it succeeds in tearing apart.

First and foremost, let me say that everything I am about to say is strictly my own opinion and is not official or authoritative in any way. While I do feel that my opinion is in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and its leadership, my opinion does not represent those teachings, nor is it even strongly influenced by them.

Let me also say that I agree that there is actually some inequality between Straights and the LGBT community when it comes to marriage. "Civil Union" is not the same thing as marriage. There are rights and privileges given to one that are denied to the other. Most of these are taxes, health insurance, and social security survivor benefits, but there are some others.

I'm going to briefly describe my understanding of each side's major argument, or at least the most common argument, and why I don't buy it. Then I'll share my own opinion.

Supporters, your main argument seems to be that gay marriage would "violate the sanctity of marriage." To all of you, I offer the following picture, stolen off of a social networking site...

It's a valid point.
If we truly viewed marriage as something sacred, then we would live in a very different society. There would be no The Bachelor on ABC. There would be no Bridezillas on WE tv. There would be no drive-thru chapels presided over by Elvis and Shaft look-alikes. And the biggest difference of all is that marriage would not be a lucrative commercial venture.

I love my wife and will always cherish my marriage to her, but the actual experience of getting married left me very disillusioned and cynical. I really wish we had just eloped and kept all our money. 

A nice cake may cost about $100. An identical cake for a wedding may cost about $800 more, for no other reason than because it's for a wedding and the cake decorator knows you'll pay it.

Same with dresses. A nice white dress may be a few hundred dollars. An identical dress for a wedding will cost you a few thousand. For no other reason than because they know you will pay. Speaking of clothing, the only reason we still have brides maids and groomsmen is because tailors want to sell you ten more dresses and ten more suits, and they know you'll pay it.

And don't get me started on photography. It's not like a camera gets better resolution if a priest is nearby. A picture is a picture, but the photographer knows you'll pay an extra thousand for wedding pictures, so the price goes up.

Rings are another perfect example. The diamond industry is basically a huge scam. Diamonds are actually extremely common in the Earth's crust. There are enough diamonds to give each man, woman and child in the United States a whole cupful. That's the reason we keep buying and buying but they never run out. The reason diamonds cost so much isn't because they are rare and supply is low, but because they know you'll pay it.

Invitations almost cost as much as you're suit, because heaven forbid you don't send an invitation to your Uncle Bernie, even though he lives on the other side of the country and clearly isn't going to show up. Marriage is so bogged down by silly traditions, corporate brainwashing, and general pride and foolishness that we've lost sight of what was supposed to be sacred about it.

Everyone wants to get married the "right" way, and by that, they mean the "expensive" way. Marriage is about money.

We like to pretend that marriage is something sacred to us, but as Christians, we've sold out. It's just about money and profit now. I can't speak for anyone else, but I don't sell what I hold sacred.

Protesters, marriage is a rite, not a right. It is a religious ceremony and no one has a right to a religious ceremony. For example, I can't get mad at Jews because they won't let me have a Bar Mitzvah or be ordained as a Rabbi. I can't be angry with Muslims because I can't participate in the Hajj to Mecca. 

I can't hold this against them any more than I get to protest against the Freemasons for not letting me walk in off the street and declare myself a Master Mason, or walk into Microsoft and take over as CEO.

Nevertheless, I do agree that there is legitimate inequality and something must be done about it.

However, my unqualified opinion is that inequality is not the real problem. It is only a symptom of the real problem.

The real problem is that the U.S. government is violating its own principle of Separation Between Church and State. The idea of a separation between church and state goes back to the writings of Thomas Jefferson and has long been an established part of Supreme Court decisions, going back to Reynolds v. United States from 1879, when the Court reviewed the history of the early Republic in deciding the extent of the liberties of Mormons, ironically, regarding their right to marry.

But now the Federal Government offers tax breaks and other benefits to those who have participated in a particular religious ceremony, and so it supports the members of those religions in a way that it denies to non-religious individuals, or to members of religions that it does not choose to recognize.

I did vote "yes" on Prop. 8, and I would do it again, not because of my religious background, or my feelings about gay marriage. I view the entire issue as a sign that our government has made a mistake. To grant the right to marry to homosexuals would only expand and perpetuate this mistake.

Rather than granting marriage rights to homosexuals, I think they should be taken away from heterosexuals.

If the protesters' motivation truly is equality, then they should be satisfied with this because no one will have any rights or privileges over anyone else, regardless of marital status. 

In addition, if supporters are truly motivated by the sanctity of marriage, then they should be satisfied by this because it removes one of the larger non-spiritual reasons why people get married; Money. Marriage will be a pretty good step toward being as sacred as we like to think it is. However, in order to fully remove the hypocrisy, we would have to learn to marry for love. That seems a long way off, but we can start working toward it.

Making a change like this would leave some things up in the air, though. For example, a man or woman has the right to make certain medical decisions on behalf of a spouse. If marriage is taken out of the equation, who will make decisions like these? Well, it would not be difficult to introduce some legislation that every adult may choose to take another consenting adult to be legally bound as a person to make decisions like this in an emergency, provide some financial support, etc. 

That's probably a poor example, but the point is that compromises could be made.

Unfortunately, I don't think many people will be satisfied by this. Supporters of Prop. 8 will not like being told that their marriage is not legally valid. Ironic, right? And to be honest, I just haven't seen much willingness to compromise out of protesters. 

That's my opinion. I do support Proposition 8. I do not hate homosexuals, but I believe in the separation of church and state and I do not like the commercialism and irreligious motivations behind many marriages.

I believe that the Founding Fathers were nothing short of inspired when they wrote the Constitution. I believe the government should not meddle with the things of God, even if it seems to benefit me. I believe that marriage truly is sacred and its time we start acting like it. I believe there is actually inequality regarding this issue and that must be addressed. 

I believe this is a fair compromise.


jenheadjen said...

This is a great argument. Have you shared this with a lot of people? If so, what has been their response?

Cristofer Urlaub said...

Surprisingly positive. I was ready for some pretty serious backlash, but people seem to think it's a decent idea. Though, as expected, I haven't changed any minds.

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