The Values of Prop 8

Whenever you look at a controversial issue, it’s important to determine what is really going on. Take gun control (please!). There are a lot of “facts” and LOTS of heated statements – but very little statements of purpose. You can find ideology pretty easily (“pry it from my cold, dead hands”), but the question of WHY is rarely asked loud enough in the public sphere.

Why regulate guns? Why keep the right to bear arms as wide as possible? Both positions actually have some good points, and both are ultimately (IMHO) generated by extremely good values: Keeping people safe and keeping people free, respectively. Both of those can be taken to extremes, and both can be abused. But it’s only once we uncover the actual values at play, rather than the specific manifestation of those values, that progress can be made towards a fair and equitable resolution.

Objections to gay marriage – something I’ve been writing about since 1998 – are a bit of a puzzler for me. [caveat – I’m talking about civil and legal marriages, not forcing a church to recognize them.] In this particular case, the values for those who support it – equality, access to the marriage-specific rights granted by society at large for partners, recognition of a long-term relationship – are pretty straightforward. What I don’t understand are the motivations of those who actively oppose it. Most of the proffered rationales – especially the “it’s for teh childrens!” one – simply don’t hold up with a bit of examination. (We can go through them again if you like, or you can look at my prior writings on the topic). Since I can’t find anything that holds up under examination, that kind of indicates that the actual value under question isn’t anything empirical. (Yes, I could be missing something – keep reading.)

The only thing left that I can see, and that I get told is “I don’t think gays should get married because I don’t think it’s right.” There may or may not be an appeal to a religion or religious text at this point as well.

Which is, y’know, a great reason for the person objecting to not get married to someone of the same sex… but a really, really crappy reason for anybody else.

Christianity (in the US, this is the religion most commonly appealed to) has a potentially charitable (sort of) rationale. One could claim that they’re just trying to save teh gays from hellfire and damnation. Except, of course, that one need not be married to have sex, and that Christianity has a built-in notation that it’s not any “sinful” act that is the problem, but the desire to do the sinful act. (As far as Jesus himself is concerned, “sinful” seems to equate with greed and selfish motives rather than breaking someone else’s rules.) So even that argument – which is a crappy one, anyway – falls flat.

I’m really having trouble discerning what the real values and motivations are of those who are so violently opposed to gays getting married. I hope – I really hope – that it’s not just a slavish addiction to dogma to avoid the uncertainty of not *knowing*. That kind of devotion to dogma tends to lead to erratic and disproportionate behavior when the dogma is no longer sustainable.

Do you know what the underlying values of the pro-prop8 folks are? Can you share?

If you don’t want to comment publicly, please feel free to e-mail me and let me know what’s really driving this thing. Maybe just for you, maybe it’s something I’ve overlooked. Whatever. Let me know, please.