Wednesday, February 25, 2004

How to use hate to win votes

George Bush wants to pass a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. As usual, I don't agree with him. His Democratic opposition, John Kerry and John Edwards, both say that they don't support gay marriage personally, but they think the issue should be left up to the states to decide. I don't agree with them, either.

I will say that, like each of the three aforementioned men, I do not personally agree with the concept of gay marriage. My opposition, however, is based on science rather than religion. It just doesn't make sense, biologically, for two members of the same sex to function as a single unit. They can't reproduce. Yes, I know there are alternatives such as adoption, artificial insemination, surrogate mothers, etc. But I'm just talking about my personal opinion here. I don't think gay marriage makes sense. Then again, I'm not gay, so it's obviously more difficult for me to understand.

Despite my personal feelings about gay marriage, I nevertheless think that it should be legal. Just because I don't understand or agree with someone else's lifestyle choice doesn't mean I should try to prevent them from making that choice.

I take the same stance when it comes to abortion. Personally, I do not agree with the practice. I won't bother to get into individual scenarios – every situation is different and warrants a decision based on whatever those factors are. I'm sure there are instances were I would indeed support abortion. Overall, though, I don't. Again, it's a personal decision of mine. And I like the fact that it's a decision. Just because I don't agree doesn't make me want to prevent other people from exercising their own will based on their beliefs. I think abortion should be legal.

What frightens me is that I don't believe that George Bush is a homophobe. I also don't believe he's a fool. You don't get to be President by being stupid. I do believe, however, that he is calculating, manipulative, and evil. His sudden urge to enact a constitutional ban on gay marriage is exactly what John Kerry called it – a "wedge issue." He knows that pushing for such a law will win him a bunch of votes (whether the law passes or not). We've all heard of campaigning for the black vote or the blue collar vote, but Bush is campaigning for the bigot vote. He's using people's irrational fears and hatred for political gain. He's taking a risky stance because he's virtually guaranteed to lose all potential votes from gay Americans, but he's counting on the hope that the bigot population is larger.

On the other side, Edwards and Kerry aren't doing much better. They're taking the safe route. In throwing out the "left up to the states" response, they absolve themselves from actually taking a stance on the issue. They're trying to play to both sides of the fence, but they end up saying nothing to either.

In fact, I think leaving the issue up to state governments is a horrible idea. Of course states like Alabama aren't going to allow "them damned faggots to perpetuate their sick and perverted ways." That means that if I have a gay coworker who wants to get married, he has to quit his job and move to another state in order to legally do so. That's ludicrous.

I will readily admit that I am not a Biblical scholar. People have told me that "the Bible says" homosexuality is wrong, and I can't refute that. Maybe it's in there in some interpretive context, or maybe it's spelled out exactly. I'm not going to bother looking it up because, frankly, I don't care.

One of the principles on which our country was founded is the freedom of religion. Our Constitution does, in fact, spell out plainly that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." While that gives us the right to hold to our generally Christian beliefs, it also gives us the right to reject those beliefs. We're free to be Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Bahá'í, Hindus, or even atheists. To prohibit homosexual marriage based on the rules of Christianity disregards the beliefs of other religions that may not hold those same rules. It effectively prohibits citizens from practicing their beliefs because our God says so.

People who want to pass such a law are therefore left with the challenge of making the issue a matter of social importance rather than religious importance. Doing so is tougher because for everyone who insists that homosexuality leads to the breakdown of the family unit there is another who can refute that homosexual couples are families too (and that those families adopt a lot of the unwanted children that the anti-abortion activists forced into abandonment). Using the phrase "the Bible says" is a much easier route because you can't argue with God.

George Bush is trying both tactics – moral and social. He claims that "marriage cannot be severed from its cultural, religious and natural roots without weakening the good influence of society."

I can do it too. While I'm not so good at quoting scripture, I have spent enough time in church to know what the Ten Commandments are. Those are the big rules – the really important ones. Yet, there is no Commandment that says "a man shalt not marry another man." There is, however, one that states "thou shalt not commit adultery." So if lawmakers are in such a tizzy about banning gay marriage based on religious beliefs, why isn't adultery prohibited by law? Surely we can make a case for that sin weakening the good influence of society.

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