Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"Five Myths of Gay Marriage"

Today, I received an email about an impending court decision tomorrow in California for two cases on gay marriage. Many people will already know how courts, religious groups, and many communities around the world are grappling with both the pros and cons of gay marriage. As the issues are complex and wide-ranging, we often need to be reminded how myths can cloud reality. Pastor Rick McDaniel of Richmond Community Church in Richmond, VA has recently written about "Five Myths of Gay Marriage." In this article, I will briefly summarize what McDaniel has said. I will then give some of my comments on that.

Myth #1 - "Anyone Against Gay Marriage is Homophobic"

RM: "This message is completely false and highly offensive to people of faith."

I agree that this statement is false. It is highly unfair to put an equal sign to say that anyone who disagree with gay marriage is a gay-hater, or homophobic person. Such an equation only reflects a simplistic mindset bent on creating unnecessary tensions. Just because a person dislikes bananas does not mean he hates bananas. In the same light, just because I love coffee does not mean I hate tea.  Having said that, I think we need to recognize that there are "some" who are truly homophobic. Do not let this group taint the entire rest of the public. We need to stand up against people who simply have a personal vendetta against people who have expressed a sexual orientation against same-sex couples. While we can disagree on matters of marital policies, we can still agree that all of us are human beings trying to have a place in this world.

Myth #2 - "It is About Marriage Equality"

RM: "Homosexuals should have all the civil rights that allow them to be in a relationship with another person. They should not be discriminated against and should be treated equally as other groups. But that is not the same thing as being married. Redefining marriage from its historic, traditional understanding is a wholly different enterprise."

Indeed, marriage is a word not to be taken lightly. I have previously argued for a change in terminology, so that we do not confuse the term from the associated rights and privileges. In other words, gays wanting the rights and privileges of marriage should instead use a different word altogether for their unions. Those arguing for traditional marriage have a point here when it comes to preserving the understanding of marriage through the centuries. Can you imagine twisting the word "mother" or "father" to be something else other than our parents? Remove the word "marriage" and call it "civil union" or whatever. For the term "gay marriage" can make a mockery out of what marriage is all about. Those who argue that supporters of traditional marriage stay out of the turf of gay couples seeking civil unions, remember that by using "marriage" in their civil unions, they are already stepping into the turf of traditional marriages. 

Myth #3 - "The Majority of the People are For It"

RM: "What people may say in a poll is different than when they walk into a private booth to cast their vote."

I think we need to be aware that there are groups out there who are trying to influence public opinions. To be fair, I think both groups are guilty of trying to shape public opinion in their favour. I do not pretend not to. I believe in traditional marriage, and I still think the published statistics are more biased than anything.  My suggestion, do not try to generalize. In an age of the Internet, it is very easy to find information. It is even easier to find information that we WANT to find. 

Myth #4 - "It Won't Lead to Other Types of Marriages"

RM: "If you redefine marriage you open a huge door to other types of marriage. It is absurd to argue that people will marry their dog or horse but other marriage arguments can be made."

I am not too sure about this myth, but I concede that there is a possibility. This myth is not as strong, probably because gay marriage matters are still relatively new. So, the jury is still out there with regards to how pervasive a gay marriage will lead to. Again, that does not mean it will never happen. 

Myth #5 - "It is Just Another Kind of Family"

RM: "Only a marriage between a man and a woman can create a child. No same sex relationship can ever procreate."

I am not sure I can agree completely with this. What about adoption? What about surrogate parents? McDaniel's 5th myth is probably the weakest of the five. I know where he is coming from. In order for a child, you need a male and a female before the couple can procreate. However, we live in a society now where many children are born out of wedlock, and some couples do not even want to get married in the first place. What about couples who have fertility issues and cannot conceive?

In summary, I think Pastor Rick McDaniel has made some really good points against any court decision for gay marriage. That said, we must remember that one can win a battle and still lose the war. We need to learn to see beyond the courts toward the basic human longings to connect and to participate in life. While I may disagree with the whole idea of gay marriage, I am sympathetic to the predicament and injustice experienced by same sex couples. For example, I oppose the violence and abuses that some of them have suffered. I am angry at the way some of them have been taunted by some members of the public, or given unfair treatment or vicious labels that degrade them. Whether gay or straight, male or female, or whatever sexual orientation, they are still people of flesh and blood. I think the basic common denominator is our position as basic human beings. Speaking out against the idea of gay marriage does not make one a homophobic. Likewise, speaking for the rights of gay marriage does not make one a gay or gay lover. For to do so either way, makes one way too black and white for an increasingly grey looking world. I love apples, but please do not call me a tomato.


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