This week’s Federal judicial reversal of Proposition 8 as unconstitutional has brought up some fascinating water cooler and after-hours conversations.
Single Judge reversing Popular Vote
We were talking yesterday about the Proposition 8 overturn with a group of colleagues, and one of the participants was a Russian immigrant, a naturalized US citizen. He made the comment that he had a hard time with the overturn because he doesn’t believe the democratic, popular vote of the people should be able to be overturned by a single judge’s judicial decision – nor a state law be overturned by a federal court’s decision. He feels that it’s a miscarriage of democracy and, of course given his country’s history, he believes such a process can lead to abuses of power and eventual corruption.
Of course, the opposing viewpoint is that when we’re considering constitutional law and matters of right and wrong, democratic vote is NOT the end-all be-all arbiter of such issues. If democracy decides that, say, women and blacks can’t vote it doesn’t make it morally right, legally correct or ultimately a sound law. (I realize that I’m grossly oversimplifying.)
As my excellent friend Eric says, we don’t actually live in a democracy, we live in a republic. The government is only indirectly influenced by the will of the people, and given that mob rule is not always measured and sane, this is not a bad thing. The initiative/referendum process is a relatively new development and actually cuts across all the careful checks and balances of the original republic.
Back to the question of morality, though. The definition of right and wrong, especially when it comes to gender, sex and marriage, is highly subjective and entirely unclear. I believe that what a person does in his or her own private home is their own business. I believe that if it harms no one, we should be able to do as we choose.
Not everyone is as liberal as I am. Those with strong religious or traditional marriage views have a different perspective on marriage rights & definitions. My answer, only partially tongue-in-cheek? You don’t believe gay marriage is right? Then don’t marry a gay person.
Bottom line: I don’t get to define your moral choices and you don’t get to define mine.
I grew up reading and watching science fiction. My favorite TV & movies including Star Trek, Logan’s Run and Stargate, and books included Robert Heinlein, Samuel Delany and Ursula K Leguin. They all depicted a sexually liberal, free, experimental culture that extrapolated “what-ifs” about love and marriage with wild abandon.
Same-sex marriage was small potatoes. They showed variants of relationships and marriage including polyamory, limited term, polyandry, polygamy, group, line, and more as a backdrop to a harder science background. Transgender and even gender variable characters examined marriage and family and gender roles from entirely new perspectives in those brave new worlds.
I don’t have a problem with any of these ideas among consenting adults. (The FLDS families, with underage wives and what in my opinion are abbreviated womens and adolescent boys rights along with what I think is religious brainwashing, are a different story.)
What you do in the privacy of your own home, even if it’s right next door, is your own business. (OK, I wouldn’t be too crazy about having a swinger club next door, but that really stretches “if it doesn’t harm anyone” – that kind of wild extended partying is not really being a good neighbor.) Enjoy, prosper, you’re welcome to it – and yes, my kids can play with your kids.
I’ve been heterosexual and (serially) monogamous most of my life, so these questions are somewhat academic for me. Should I ever choose to embark upon another relationship it would likely be along the same lines, although I’m not inclined toward marrying again. (Why?) I do have cherished friends who are married gays/lesbians and others who would like to be – and I wholeheartedly support their desires.
Shoot, they can have my no-longer-used marital rights. I don’t want ‘em anymore.