The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Contracts and mythology

Today there are about 6,692,030,277 people on the planet. That means there are about 6,692,030,277 shades of sexuality ranging from those who feel no sexual attraction to anything or anyone to those who feel sexually attracted to everything and everyone. Tomorrow there will be about 6 million more shades.

NPR ran a story yesterday on All Things Considered titled "And America's Gayest City is...?" Atlanta, according to writer Mike Albo, holds the title. Iowa City (???) came in third. The article examined data such as the number of same-sex couple households per capita, elected gay officials, statewide marriage equality; other measures were more creative: the number of gay bars, cruising areas and gay-friendly films rented in a particular zip code.

"What measures gayness?" Albo asks. "Maybe there's one gay bar, but a ton of gay couples and a really great cruising spot there, too. Who knows? Who knows what measures gayness?"

Coincidentally, a trial began in California this month over the constitutionality of Proposition 8, in which the voters last fall defined "marriage" as being between a man and a woman. You can search the website for a number of stories on the trial. One interesting fact to me was that the judge in the case asked an attorney for the pro-Prop8 side, "You keep asserting that allowing gay folks to marry will endanger heterosexual marriage. How so?" The attorney replied, "I don't know."

I don't either. "Marriage" is one or both of two things, primarily. As concerning the State, it is a contract between two folks to fulfill certain obligations. As regards the Church (whatever church it might be) it is supposedly a non-legally-binding contract between two people and God to fulfill certain obligations (somewhat different from the obligations in the State contract).

Some people claim to know what God's part in the deal is, although they've never presented proof of that knowledge. I have no problem with people voluntarily entering into contracts based on mythology.

What I know is that it makes no sense for the State to allow, indeed encourage, a certain contract between two people and to discourage, indeed bar, the exact same contract between two other people. No state marriage contract says anything about which appendages are allowed to be placed in which orifices.

The California case will result in Prop 8 being overturned, which will result in a few years of litigation until the US Supreme Court hears it, where the decision will probably be upheld. The most satisfying part of that for me will be thinking of Bob Ellis and Bob Fischer at that moment.


Michael Sanborn said...

This will be a tough one for the Supreme Court. We have established that people cannot be discriminated against based on gender. Therefore it follows that allowing a man to marry a woman, but not allowing a woman to marry a woman, discriminates against both of the latter.

In the end, I think it should be a state's rights issue. And as a member of the more conservative party in this state, I wish my representatives would busy themselves with the $36 million shortfall in our Governor's budget.

I've said it before, I don't care about gay marriage. There are more pressing issues before us.

Taunia said...

Nice job, Newland. I'm surprised by your thoughts on this, although maybe if I'd been paying closer attention I wouldn't be.

I think this whole issue is on the fringes of (the closing gap of) separation of church and state.

Bob Newland said...

That's okay, Taunia. Almost no one pays any attention to what I say.