The elections from last Tuesday echoed a sentiment heard time and time again. PEOPLE DO NOT WANT GAY MARRIAGE. Maine became the latest of 31 states to vote for a ban on gay marriage. Typically a liberal stronghold, Maine joins other even more liberal states like California and Hawaii to by popular vote, reject the idea of changing the fundamental union of our civilization. If the country’s most liberal states cannot get these initiatives passed, where is this heated debate going? I have an idea where it should go.
Public discontent is nothing new, and I believe “the folks” are quite fed up. Fed up with inefficient government, out of touch Senators and Congressmen, and activists on the left and the right. I believe the election of 2008 was a shining referendum of that very malcontent the average citizens are feeling. Enter the same-sex marriage debate. Whether or not you are for or against gay marriage is not the issue I am addressing here. In my opinion, there are heartfelt and rational reasons both for and against changing the definition of marriage, as thoughtful people on both sides can disagree. My issue here is that the tactics currently employed by the proponents of gay marriage are misguided, and would greatly benefit from a change in strategy.
Currently, 5 states legally recognize same-sex marriage, with all them coming about by their state legislature or court ruling. The first was Massachusetts in 2004, followed by Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Iowa. A number of other states provide for some form of spousal rights to same-sex couples, stopping short of redefining marriage. Maine makes it 31 out of 31 popular votes going against gay marriage. The other recent, prominent vote in support of traditional marriage came last November in California, when citizens voted for Proposition 8, upending the previous court ruling from five months earlier. Although it’s probably safe to say the fiasco that ensued in California will not happen in Maine, these types of social debates bring out strong emotions from the left and the right.
I believe the far left have improperly framed the debate, and would greatly benefit from taking a step back in pushing a new form of values onto Americans that so far have rightly rejected them. Take the debate out of the activist’s hands and put it into the hands of the rational majority. I can almost guarantee you that on a state-to-state basis, citizens would overwhelmingly be in favor of ending the old, out-dated, discriminatory practices that do not allow same-sex couples access in hospitals, access to health benefits, certain tax advantages, and even adoption rights. That is if they already haven’t.
Unfortunately that is not the goal of the activist left. Their aim is not simply to ensure a similar legal standing for gay couples, but to remove any and all stigmas that may be rightly or wrongly attached to homosexuality. They aren’t looking to be afforded similar tax treatments, but to forcibly demand that the traditional views of morality have been wrong, if not evil all along. That every institution, secular and religious since the beginning of time have been discriminatory and hateful to their core. To equate sexual orientation with race and to impose the left-wing value that gender is of no consequence and is no different in regards to human nature and society. So far the voters in 31 states have determined that they do not accept these values as their own, with California voting down gay marriage twice.
The sad truth within this debate is that until the misguided people on the left realize that we already live in a free, giving, and compassionate society, existing gay couples will continue to be caricatured and hurt by the zealots trying to push something the American people reject. Until they realize that the rational people in the middle understand that this argument is not about denying love, removing rights, and stigmatizing fellow Americans, they will not get the change they are looking for. If these groups change the scope of their initiatives to first and foremost provide them with equal legal protection under the law, specifically tax treatment and dependency status, civil unions or same-sex domestic partnerships have a good chance at passing immediately. These types of changes are much less imposing and complex, and would at least deflect some of the insidious nature of broad scale social policy changes. They would also be able to get the protection and equal rights they are claiming this is all about. A continued onslaught of legislation that questions the morality and traditions of a traditional society is simply, a losing proposition.