Debate on the Federal Defense of Marriage Act
and gay marriage continued

from comment on the earlier post, by Jimmy:
The problem I have with your argument is that you seem to believe that the only impact gay marriage has is on the people directly involved. There are people who oppose gay marriage for societal reasons and have done a great deal of work studing the impact that gay marriage has had on societies in other countries where it is legal. Their view (which is one I hold) has nothing to do with a moral argument but a societal one. I question the wisdom of doing anything that must be forced upon the population of a democratic country by judicial fiat as opposed to the democratic process. I suspect that it's something the people would not accept unless forced upon them.

My Response:

(1) I never said gay marriage only impacts gay people - but it doesn't impact other people in any way that violates their rights. Most everything you do privately or socially has at least some impact on some other people, but that doesn't mean that every action you take should be permitted (or outlawed) by democratic vote no matter how much people don't like it. Unless you have some evidence of some considerable harm that is caused fairly directly by gay marriages, you won't get very far with that argument.

Divorce is 'bad for society' as well. It causes all sorts of problems with child custody and how property will be divided, children are often raised in single parent homes, and let's not forget how it tarnishes the sacred institution of marriage. I would bet that divorce is a lot worse for society than gay marriage; homosexuals don't make up that much of the population, so there won't be that many gay marriages anyway - relative to that, divorce rates are extremely high. Why then do we allow divorce?

Using "it's bad for society" as a reason to outlaw something frightens me. Partly because most of the things that people say are "bad for society" are really only bad in that they don't mesh with a certain person's conception of the ideal society. Many of these things that are "bad for society" don't cause any real harm - they might just cause changes that people find undesirable. Well guess what, you don't own the world. I don't own the world. And other people don't have a responsibility to do everything I think they ought to do.

Where's the line we draw between what is permissible even though I don't like it and what does enough real harm to others that it should be prohibited? That's a tough question - it seems inadequate to only outlaw direct physical harm. But legal regulations on who can and cannot get married is certainly far, far past that line.

(2) Now why exactly is it worse for some judges to force a decision on people who don't agree with it than it is for a popular majority by Democratic Vote to force a decision on people who don't want it?

NPR cited a poll done by a Republican and a Democrat pollster that said 56% of Americans opposed gay marriage, while 30% support it. So it's wrong from the beliefs of 30% of Americans to be forced on those 56%, but it is perfectly acceptable for the 56% to force their beliefs on the 30%? I hope I won't offend your democratic sensibilities too deeply by saying that that doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Now sure, there are some decisions affecting entire groups that just need to be made, and a democratic decision isn't the worst way to go about that. But whether or not gay people can marry each other isn't a life or death decision. It's not something that is going to significantly affect the entire American population if allowed, aside from our liking or disliking the fact that it is happening. But like I said before - you don't own the world, and your disgust at some practice that doesn't otherwise harm you isn't enough reason to prohibit that practice.

If you don't think a gay partnership can be a marriage, then by all means, don't recognize it as such. No one is going to force you to say "Those homosexuals are married." Continue believing that marriage can only be between one man and one woman, and that it requires whatever kind of arrangements, agreements, and ceremonies that you think it does. No one is forcing you to do anything, or preventing you from doing anything. So why don't you return the favor, and let other people go on about their business? The government isn't there to enforce your particular preferences - it ought to stick to defending the country and defending your freedom.

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