I've been mulling over this post for a few weeks now. It all started when I woke up on December 21st and heard that my state, Utah, would be allowing same-sex marriage, not because the people decided on it, but because a federal judge decided not allowing it was unconstitutional. I'll admit that my first reaction was one of annoyance. I'm a pretty big supporter of states' right to govern themselves, so when I hear a member of the federal government decides to infringe upon states governing themselves it gets my dander up. But, as I always do whenever my dander gets up, I started looking at why. Why did this get my dander up?
My main issue with the judge's actions is that I don't see marriage as a right. If we were denying life and liberty to a group, then I would be more than happy for a federal judge to step in and defend that group. It's why our founders set up the United States as a republic, not a democracy. But marriage isn't a right. A right is something owed to someone simply because they are human. Marriage, in the eyes of our government, is nothing more than a business deal between two people and the government, and I don't see business deals as rights. The government, and more importantly, the people who fund that government, deserve to have a say in who the government goes into business with. So, the judge had no business getting into the business dealings of Utah.
Some say that it's unfair of the government to go into business with some couples and not with others. That makes sense, it is unfair, but the government isn't calling these deals partnerships, or conglomerates, or any other amoral name, they are calling it marriage, a very morally charged word for a lot of people. Some may say this shouldn't matter, but it does. The government has set itself up as a moral compass, and, as sad as it is, many Americans don't think for themselves and just follow the compass. "If it's legal, it's okay." A good example is alcohol and marijuana. Both drugs do essentially the same thing to people (a good case could even be made that marijuana is less dangerous), but which one do we tell our kids to never touch and which do we tell our kids to use responsibly? The government has put itself up as a moral compass, it's working, and so it is in each individual's best interest to vote to make that moral compass look as much like theirs as possible, no matter which side of the debate they're on, or why they believe what they do, because that's how they believe our country will be better. I don't like that we're all trying to push our morals on each other, but that's what the government has set us up to do.
And morals is what the fight is really about. Both sides try to say it is about insurance benefits and tax right-offs, but that's not REALLY what is being fought about. Otherwise, when those against same-sex marriage said homosexuals could enter a legal partnership so long as it wasn't called marriage, homosexuals would have jumped at it. It's not about that though. It's about one group thinking love is love and should be respected and considered equal, while the other thinks romantic love should have some rules, so that it doesn't get perverted. And I'm not here to judge either side of that.
I have my own beliefs, but I've found that they are torn. As most of you know, I'm LDS. If you don't know my religion's stance on same-sex marriage, you can find it here. And while I largely agree with it, I also have some sympathy too. I've put myself in the place of homosexual LDS men and it's not a fun place to be. If I were homosexual, these would be my choices as an LDS man. 1. I might not get married at all. I honestly can't imagine what my life would be like without my wife. She's my sounding board, my shoulder to cry on, my partner, my friend, my confident, my cheer-leader, and so much more. I would only be a fraction of what I am now without a spouse. I wouldn't want to choose that. 2. I could marry someone I'm not particularly attracted to. If roles were reversed, I'd be asked to marry a man. I don't want to marry a man. The idea of seriously holding hands with them, holding them, spooning with them, and kissing them does not interest me in the slightest, and I haven't even started thinking about sex. It'd be weird, to say the very least. 3. I could marry someone I am attracted to and either choose to believe the doctrine as it stands and believe I'm living in sin, or stop believing in at least that part of the doctrine. I'd be uncomfortable every Sunday as people passed judging glances at me and my spouse. People would make rude remarks both behind my back and to my face. And that's all before we decided to adopt a baby. No matter what, they have a tough row to hoe, and I can't pretend I don't believe that's the case.
On the other hand, I do believe homosexual acts are a sin. That means I believe homosexual marriage is not something to be condoned, and because the government has forced me to push my morals on others, I have to say, with my vote (if the federal government believes in states deciding anything anymore) that homosexual marriage is immoral, and I believe we would be better off without it in our society, just like the opposing side is trying to push their morals on me and my family.
So, because I hate cognitive dissonance, I've thought a lot about what we should do about it. At first, I thought the government should get out of these partnerships all together. I granted that it would be difficult, but it would be worth it. We would have to figure out a different scheme for family insurance, wills, who gets to see whom in the hospital, who makes medical decisions, etc., but it would all be worth it in the end. This was a little idealistic though. It would take so much work that we would never get started on it.
Instead, and I think this would honestly solve everything, the government shouldn't call ANY of these partnerships marriage anymore, and the ones that are marriages should no longer be called marriages by the state. They should be called by an amoral name like partnership, or maybe we'll get creative and call them something else. We'll make them just as much of a pain in the ass to get into and out of as they already are, so they are stable units (what I believe the government is trying to accomplish by being involved at all). The government can look at and change all the tax right-offs, etc. that come with these partnerships, so it can be financially feasible (though I highly doubt it's going to make that much of a difference anyway). Insurance companies will be given the choice whether to acknowledge these partnerships or not (and hopefully companies will be kind enough to their employees to choose insurance companies that will). And it can stop being a moral issue all together. People can choose to make these partnerships as religious/secular, sexual/asexual, faithful/unfaithful as they see fit, and we can all get out of each other's business.