Wednesday, October 29, 2008

CA, CT: gay marriage news continues; existential arguments start to burn out of control

We make a lot about “equality” in our debate these days, and throw around the label “second class citizen” as if we were willing to field ultimate existential challenges for our use of the term. But, the California supreme court indeed hinted that it took the legal ban on gay marriage as putting all homosexual (or even unmarried heterosexual) adult citizens into a second-class category, vulnerable to being pushed to be back on an imaginary bus in a second life.

The term is meaningful, we think, today because we say we have a meritocratic society. Everyone worth something relative to a global universe. We “measure” people by FICO scores but then entertain science fiction novels or movies where people’s souls have a measurable worth that could make a new kind of gold standard.

Then I recall my own boyhood, with its maze of contradictions. In fact, I perceived the world as one that put boys through a rite of passage to prove their “worth” – to survive to have a progeny, or to be worthy of respect as authority figures, whether teachers assigning grades, heads of families or bosses in the workplace. It really was like that in the 1950s, even if we had fought (and won) a World War against where that kind of thinking can lead. With the way we handled the draft and deferments, we were slipping inevitably toward that kind of thinking ourselves.

I sort of knew, intellectually, at least, that the “family” was supposed to be the antidote to this. The family was given the power and responsibility to give every family member a sense of self worth, at least locally. You put your family first, and the idea of “second class citizen” didn’t come up. (Of course, you wondered when you heard more about segregation, and learned the history that had led to the Civil War.) Of course, this leads to the conclusion that seems to drive the opposition to gay marriage: a married couple is given a lot of “power” over the lives of others – including adults – and the perks, responsibilities and powers are essential to keep the marriage not just faithful (the hard part) “earthy”, “organic” (the rewarding part) and stable for a few decades.

Now, in the 21st Century most of mainstream America really wants to develop and keep an individualistic society, so it's harder to have your cake and eat it too, when you have to take care of everyone.

Today (Oct. 29, 2008) The Washington Times has another piece, by Star Parker, on p. A19, “Marriage Ballot Test,” again about the paper’s favorite topic, California Proposition 8. Now the argument is advanced that if gay marriage stands, public schools will have to teach that gay relationships and even marriages are a normal part of the world. Heterosexual marriage will no longer have the elevated status (and control over others) that it needs to remain stable and able to provide for the everyday mundane needs of civilization (not just raising children but assigning family responsibility for everybody). The Times doesn’t seem have the article online yet (sometimes the paper is a day behind with some pieces), but I found it at GOPUSA (“bringing the Conservative Message to America”) here.

The Times did post the AP story by Susan Haight, “Gay Marriages Begin Next Month in Conncecticut, here; the original AP link is here.

I somehow still remember Chris Crain's Washington Blade editorial from 2004 "Piddle, Twiddle and Resolve" (see this blog July 30 2008 for link). You give a little ground, the support level gives out, just as with the stock market in souls.

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