Monday, May 19, 2008

It's About the Word

California's Supreme Court says it's unconstitutional for California voters to decide what they call "Marriage" ... or so it's been interpreted. Actually I do think I recall seeing some language mentioned that left the door open to the only sensible solution (using a different term for state purposes for both of them). At least it's a concession to the 75-80% of American voters who are against calling a gay union "Marriage". But that was buried in the story. The emphasis was on declaring voter referendums banning gay "marriage" had been declared unconstitutional.

So I'm listening to some callers on a talk show today, and I hear this one guy call up and try to cast it as a "separation of church and state" issue. (I'll only mention for now the fact that the term "separation of church and state" isn't mentioned anywhere in the Constitution or its de-facto extension, the Bill of Rights).

This caller talked about the term "sanctity of marriage" and argued that that showed that it was a religious term, and therefore, I guess, that attempts to define it as a union between a man and a woman was somehow a violation of this "separation of church and state". Which is actually an incoherent argument if you think about it. Not to mention that "sanctity" is used for anything from baseball to bedrooms.

The crux of the matter is marriage isn't a word or even an idea that the state came up with. The State did not, and should not now, "define" marriage. Marriage existed as an arguably religious ceremony signifying a social construct. The state merely recognized it -- a pre-existing, already defined social construct -- as the nucleus of a family unit. There was no other sort of family unit to define in the culture America grew out of, and so the word was adopted. It made sense.

The language I mentioned in the California supreme court decision left the door open to the state to use a different term for Civil Unions for state purposes. As a matter of fact, California already has a civil union law and lots of laws protecting the rights of, shall we say, "non-traditional" families. Yeah, yeah, gay couples.

We're instructed by many to believe that it isn't about the word, it's about equal rights. But as far as that goes, the rights issue has been covered by California. I mean, what "rights" are we talking about? As far as the state goes, tax and mutual property laws should cover it for the most part, and I'm sure in California they have been along with laws covering employee benefits to families and exceptions clauses to privacy laws.

And yet the gay "rights" movement continued the fight ... in California. So it is the word then, despite what those people say. And many others in the movement admit it freely -- claiming a right to be recognized by our culture as equal.

But this would be a state imposition on the culture. It makes as much sense as the state insisting we not refer to men and women, but perhaps "perits" as one old tounge-in-cheek magazine article I read suggested (since person has the word "son" in it, suggesting a deference to males). A same-sex union is different from a two-sex union, in the same way men and women are different. What's the big deal about people calling them different things? Sure, they have a common denominator, but they are not the same thing. Further, forcing us all to call same-sex unions by the term reserved by our cultural heritage has defined as a union between a man and a woman is, in effect, forcing a belief system on all of us.

One might say, "so what if 'they' want to call it 'marriage'? Whom does it hurt?"

Well, for one thing it takes away the ability for, perhaps traditional Christian parents to explain to their children that they believe there is something different, that Uncle Jimmy and Aunt John are not normal, which they have every right to believe. And if you believe they don't, you're probably not familiar with the other part of the so-called "separation of church and state" clause in the first amendment.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
And speaking of that first amendment, usually referred to as the "freedom of speech" amemndment ... I'm not suggesting that gay couples can't refer to their union as a marriage or say they're married. I'm just arguing that the state shouldn't be able to tell everyone else that they have to call it that. Because that would be "abridging the freedom of speech". If you don't think that's what would happen, recall the issue of displaying Piglet in your office in Britain. Just Google Europe "hate speech laws". Have yourself a read or three. That's where this is heading.

And to hit once more on that first amendment, that California Supreme Court decision prohibiting ballot initiatives prohibiting gay marrriage also smacks of abridging [..] the right of the people [...] to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Just a refresher:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
I have no problem with the state calling a same-sex union as well as a marriage both "Civil Unions". And I'd bet that if that's the way the gay marriage lobby went about it, we wouldn't have 75-80% of the people against it. With that many people, it's not a Republican/Democrat issue. It's arguably not even a conservative/liberal issue. It's a big issue with most people. I suspect that its proponets are well aware of this and they're avoiding that issue like the plague. It shows a certain contempt for American culture, especially bucking those numbers today.

Because this is about social engineering. It's about the language. It's about the word.

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