I love living in Utah, but sometimes I don’t feel very Utahn. As laws prohibiting same sex marriage fail to pass Constitutional muster in various federal courts across the nation, my adopted state has vowed to fight the good fight for its version—to the tune of millions spent on lawyers arguing that current Utah law reflects the will of the people. Indeed.
Just in case the appeals court could not deduce the will of the people on its own, a veritable smorgasbord of churches put aside their differences and developed, with their own lawyers, a brief for the court explaining their religious conviction that marriage between a man and a woman, sanctified before God, “…is the right and best setting for bearing and raising children.” The religious argument then, is that this is all about protecting children.
“Ah!” I said when I read that. How novel! And here I was, thinking opposition to gay marriage reflected the religious right’s determination to punish gays for behavior they consider sinful by denying them equal protection under the law. I’m so relieved to be proven wrong – it’s all about the children!
So, um, what about the children? I mean, other than repeating religious dogma, does Utah’s argument contain empirical evidence supporting traditional marriage as the preeminent method for bearing and raising children? If it does, what are the policy implications beyond just prohibiting marriage? Do we intend to bar LGBT couples from bearing and raising children? Many choose to do so now don’t they? Is there evidence they do so poorly? Will we take away those children? Bar them from adopting?
Of course not! So what we are left with is the state’s attempt to deny these people the many legal, social, economic, and psychological benefits of being married to someone they love. And this protects children how?
Calling someone a bigot is harsh. Some Utahns against gay marriage react angrily when someone suggests that traditional Christians are acting like segregationists in the Jim Crow south here. Maybe teaming up with Southern Baptists wasn’t the smartest move if you wanted to avoid that comparison. But from my perspective, I don’t see that much difference between this legal fight and say, the fight against the decriminalization of interracial marriage in the 1960s. Virginians fought the good fight against interracial marriage then, as they are fighting along with Utahns and others now against same sex marriage.
Why don’t we just own our bigotry like the Duck Dynasty guy? That is, before he issued that soppy “I love all men and women” FB quote. He said that homosexuals will “…not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven,” and that, in general, blacks were happier under Jim Crow. Ba-Bam! At least you know where he stands. Why doesn’t the rest of the religious right do the same? Try this manifesto: Homosexuality is a sin before God! We will oppose any law or societal convention that makes it easier for those practicing this behavior to live, work, or otherwise lead normal lives, just like other religious fundamentalists in the Middle East, Africa, maybe Russia too.
But oops, we live in a republic. The majority does not always get to impose its will universally, thanks to the wisdom of our founding fathers, not when that majority seeks to deny the full privileges of citizenship to others for arbitrary reasons. Lord knows, so to speak, you are entitled to your beliefs on the godliness and heterosexual basis of marriage, but your right to impose them on others ought to stop at the door to your church. We Utahns are on the wrong side of history here.