Thursday, September 08, 2005

When democracies attack


The pro-family forces of all that is right and good about our country are about to take another body blow from the America-hating, anti-family lobby.

Yes, you read that right. In vetoing California's pro-family legislation recognizing same-sex marriage -- which he has announced he will do -- governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is bowing to a tyranny of the majority and failing his constituents and his state by abdicating his duty to protect the rights of all versus the designs of those who would enslave and oppress a minority. Schwarzenegger built a career on the basis of his muscles. Looks like he traded in his backbone for an extra inch on the biceps somewhere along the way.

Marriage is partially (in some cases) a religious sacrament, and partially (in all cases) a contractual commitment. To legally discriminate on the basis of gender between who may and may not be legally recognized/licensed in their exercise of that sacrament or contract is to deny the discriminated-against minority their inalienable rights to worship, and to dispose of their property, as they choose.

Same-sex couples are not exempt from the requirement that they pay Social Security taxes. They are, however, barred from claiming the same set of benefits that Social Security confers on others -- in particular, survivor benefits for spouses.

Same-sex couples are required to jump through additional legal hoops, at their own expense, to pass their property on to their spouses at death, where this is the legal default presumption for opposite-sex couples.

Same-sex couples are often denied basic societal hospitalities (in some cases) and rights (in others) accorded to opposite-sex couples: The ability to attend to each others' needs when one partner is hospitalized or imprisoned, the right to work in government service (particularly the military) without hiding their private lives from their co-workers, etc.

In many states, clergy can be fined -- or even jailed! -- for administering the sacrament of marriage to same-sex couples. In all states except Massachusetts, same-sex couples are denied the right to engage in one particular form of contract which is available for a uniform (although unjustified) licensing fee to opposite-sex couples of legal age.

The issue of marriage should clarify the root problem with the concept of "democracy." Because a majority of Californians wish to deny a minority of Californians their inalienable rights, Schwarzenegger believes that he is compelled to acquiesce in that denial. Gay men and lesbians today -- but in principle it is absolutely no different if tomorrow the target is Jews, blacks, left-handed people ... or Christians. Either our rights can be disposed of at the ballot box, or they can't. The fact that a particular minority is only now stepping forward to claim its rights after centuries of bowing to social pressures and allowing prejudice to assume force of law by virtue of being largely unopposed, is irrelevant. Slavery was wrong before William Lloyd Garrison decided that he would be heard and made it so, and it was wrong in spite of society's overall negative reaction to the abolitionist movement. Anti-gay discrimination was wrong and un-American in 1789, it was wrong and un-American in 1850, it was wrong and un-American in 1950 and it is wrong and un-American today.

The best solution to the problem of America-hating, anti-family, anti-gay prejudice, of course, would be to get government out of marriage completely. After all, why should anyone need a license to engage in an act of worship, or a special license to enter into a contract? The first would seem to be a clear breach of the First Amendment (assuming that one accepts the doctrine of incorporation which extends that amendment's restrictions to the states and not just Congress); the second is an implicit religious test that militates against America's rejection of such tests for public purposes.

Assuming that government won't get its perverted influence out of others' bridal suites, however, it seems obvious to me that it must be forced to act in an even-handed manner.

If two people of the same sex can't get a marriage license, why should they be able to get a business license?

If more than two people can't get a marriage license, why should they be able to get a corporate charter and sell stock to multiple buyers, or license a limited partnership with more than two partners?

If two people of the same sex can't file one income tax return instead of two, why should two people of the opposite sex be able to do so?

If a gay man or lesbian serving in the military doesn't receive the standard military pay and benefit augmentations for his or her dependents, why should heterosexual soldiers get those perqs?

Don't want same-sex couples to have, or adopt, children? No problem -- exempt them from the portion of property taxes which finances public schools for the children you don't want them to have.

If government is going to dictate the acceptable parameters of the marriage sacrament, it should also promulgate rules governing baptism and confirmation, settle once and for all the question of whether or not the Host really is the body of Christ, and perhaps publish a weekly topic on which all ministers must preach, with doctrinal guidelines for how the topic is to be handled.

If the Jerry Falwells, James Dobsons and Randy Thomassons in our midst hate America's families so badly that they're willing to sacrifice religious and contractual freedom to damage those families, let them sacrifice their religious and contractual freedom along with everyone else's.

Of course, I'm not serious, because I'm not silly (or an anti-family America-hater). Much better to ignore the America-hating, anti-family Pecksniffs and respect everyone's rights, don't you think?

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