Saturday, July 10, 2010

It's not a moral issue, it's an equality issue

A judge in the United States may have finally put that country on track to joining a number of nations that have recognized what is common sense -- that morals cannot dictate public policy regarding gay marriage.

Back in 1996, Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act which defines a marriage as one man and one woman to the exclusion of all other relationships.   A platitude may be fine to get votes especially from the most mobilized, but the effect of the federal law is that a gay partner cannot be buried next to his or her lover in a military cemetary, cannot get spousal federal social benefits, cannot apply for the spousal tax credit -- even in the five states and DC all of which do recognize same-sex marriages.   The judge rightly has said the law violates the equality provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment.

But the judge, in another case, also said that the federal law also impedes on a state's right to allow gay marriages.   This is the more complicated one as many states have passed sweeping bans not just on gay marriages but also the right of gay and lesbian couples to adopt, and refuses to recognize the legitimacy of marriages entered to in other states (which of course violates Article IV).

One has to wonder if this will have an effect on the federal court in San Francisco which any day will rule on the propriety of Proposition 8.    I don't think there's a choice here -- the court has to rule to strike it down even if a majority of voters in California approved it.   There is no other option just as there was no option but to end segregation fifty years ago even though most whites at the time supported it (and many, I suspect, would like it to come back).

Whatever I personally think about gay marriage, which I have discussed before here, I don't think it's a moral issue anymore.    It is one of equal rights, period.   And for what it's worth, if courts enforce same-sex custody orders even in states where they're not "supposed" to, there's no reason why they can't take the next logical step if legislatures refuse to do so.

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Heather said...

How do you reconcile your seeming support for gay marriage with your Christian ethics as a Disciple of Christ?

Are you a Christian first or Liberal first?

Just curious...

BlastFurnace said...

I consider myself Christian first, then a Canadian, then a Liberal.

To answer your other question, Heather, long and short: In high school (a parochial, Catholic high school) I had quite a few openly gay and lesbian classmates who were relentlessly bullied by the administration for being such. But we wouldn't put up with it and fought to make sure that they got equal treatment -- as required by law here under human rights legislation.

The simple fact for me is, people fall in love. I'm definitely looking for someone of the opposite sex, but I am not going to fault someone if the one they're in love with happens to be someone of the same sex. Christ said to love thy neighbour and I don't believe he ever qualified that.